BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards and local leaders announced Monday, Aug. 5 that the National College Baseball Hall of Fame’s Night of Champions induction and awards ceremony will take place at the River Center Nov. 2.
The event is expected to draw more than 500 ballplayers, including new hall of fame inductees and active players who will be awarded. Former LSU coach and athletic director, Skip Bertman, will present the award for coach of the year, named in his honor.
“It’s the perfect fit for a community with a storied baseball history,” Edwards said. “We believe this is the beginning of an ongoing relationship with the College Baseball Foundation.”
Local leaders were not coy about their hopes for the fruit that new relationship may bear. Each speaker at the press conference made reference to the foundation’s ongoing search for a new college baseball museum location.
A deal to put the museum in Lubbock, Texas fell through in 2017, and a search committee has been looking for a new spot ever since. They expect to have a location identified by the fall, according to foundation president, Mike Gustafson.
“Baton Rouge is on that list for a reason,” said Gustafson, whose comments were restricted by non-disclosure agreements and active negotiations.
A potential site in the city has not been identified, but a new museum would not be on LSU or Southern University’s campus, according to SportsBR president, Patrick Coogan.
The original plan for the Lubbock complex included a field that could host little league or high school games. Coogan says the facility could feature some of the same high-tech amenities that Atlanta’s College Football Hall of Fame boasts.
“We can’t think of a better place than Baton Rouge, to not only have this event, but potentially have a physical structure here permanently,” Coogan said.
One selling point will be LSU Baseball’s nation-best attendance streak. For 23 seasons in a row, more fans have sat in Alex Box than in any other stadium in college baseball.
“We’ve led the nation for over 20 years in attendance,” Bertman said. “We have a lot of people that love baseball. When you put the best baseball players in college in a single room, it’s an autograph and photo session delight.”
“We’re sure, after this event and they get a taste of our hospitality and great seafood, they’ll have nowhere else to locate that hall of fame,” state tourism head, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said.