LAFAYETTE, La. (KPLC) - Louisiana lost an icon Wednesday.
UL Lafayette baseball coach Tony Robichaux passed away at the age of 57. But hearing from those who knew him, the McNeese Hall of Famer’s impact reaches far beyond the diamond.
“He was a force. He was tough in the other dugout and tough on the recruiting trail," said McNeese baseball coach Justin Hill. "His impact was felt.”
Just after finishing his college playing career with McNeese, Tony Robichaux began coaching at his alma mater – leaving a lasting impression on players and coaches in his eight seasons with the Cowboys.
“He embodied what was good about baseball, he was always much more than just the game," said Barbe baseball coach Glenn Cecchini. "He was about building relationships. He was outstanding with that.”
In 1995, the Crowley native took the helm of the UL Lafayette baseball program, making the Ragin’ Cajuns a national name by taking the school to the College World Series in 2000.
Through his over 11-hundred career wins, Robichaux never chased the next job.
“Pitching coaching positions in the SEC came open and he could have made considerably more money if he would have left, but he didn’t," Cecchini said. "He was a loyal guy. Family and God were the most important things in his life, and he’d be the first to say that.”
And he wanted to make sure he and all of his players’ identities were more than just baseball.
That’s summed up best in a excerpt from a 2018 press conference.
“That’s how he lived his life, doing whatever he could to impact somebody’s life and make them be a better person," said former Ragin’ Cajun Blake Trahan. "That was his main goal and he did that through baseball.”
Trahan is one of many former Cajuns, who after playing for Robichaux, had the opportunity to play pro baseball. The Kinder native made his MLB debut a season ago and says he still uses lessons he learned in Lafayette.
“You get on social media right now and that’s all you see is people spilling their hearts out telling their stories of Coach Robe," said Trahan. "He was just that special. He was able to love and care for so many.”
Baseball coach was just a job title for Robichaux, or better yet— his platform to improve the world.
“Anybody who came in contact with him was a better person. He empowered, inspired people to believe in themselves,” said Cecchini who roomed with Robichaux at UL Lafayette. “Tomorrow’s not promised and Tony lived his life that way. Every day he lived it like it was the last day he was ever going to live.”