OT: Hold the Rope

I really enjoyed watching the SEC Network documentary on Skip Bertman last night. There were some great tales about his early years at LSU, including when he kicked Albert Belle off the team for selfish play.

But what I found most interesting was the grassroots campaign to build interest in the program, which was irrelevant when he arrived.

Several people recalled a time when Bertman hosted a baseball clinic outside of a sporting goods store. Six people showed up to the baseball clinic while 250 were inside learning to use a turkey call. He said the baseball team used to dress up in full uniform and walk the aisles at Pete Maravich Center to hand out baseball tickets, and he used to send his assistant coaches to the concession stands during cold-weather games to make sure the hot chocolate was hot.

There are a lot of coaches who had to do the similar things to build interest in their programs. Bertman is unique in that his work resulted in five national championships.

I thought a lot about Norm DeBriyn and Dave Van Horn while listening to Bertman speak about having to get your hands dirty taking care of the field as a baseball coach. And I thought about Gary Blair when Bertman said he used to speak publicly 80 times per year to any group that would have him.

I moved to NWA in 2002, literally the day after the Diamond Hogs lost in the super regional at Clemson (if I remember right). DVH was named coach soon after, and I attended my first Razorback baseball game in 2003. I think I went to three games that year.

I remember that in those days, you could get free tickets for non-conference games at Taco Bell locations throughout the area. I don’t remember what year they did away with those free tickets, but it’s a small example of the grassroots efforts to build interest in our own baseball program.

This weekend, once regional sites are officially announced, the ticket office will put regional tickets on sale, and my guess is that unless you have season tickets or are a Razorback Foundation member, you won’t be able to get anything except possibly Hog Pen tickets.

It sure is sweet how far our program has come!

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It was a very interesting documentary. I had not realized just how bad LSU was before Bertman. The baseball clinic story was both sad and funny.

I’d forgotten about those free tickets at Taco bell! Thanks for that trip down memory lane.

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