Local businessman Richie LeBlanc received a surprise phone call Tuesday afternoon.
Louisiana Tech VP and Director of Athletics Eric Wood called LeBlanc to deliver some pretty exciting news.
LeBlanc, a former Bulldog baseball star from the late 1980s, had been voted into the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame.
“It was very unexpected,” said LeBlanc, who played baseball for the Bulldogs in the mid-1980s. “I was driving back from our operating facility so I was on the road. It was emotional. It was a good feeling. You start thinking back to all the players that played a part in our success. It was good.”
It was such a surprise that at one point in the conversation, Wood thought he had lost the connection with LeBlanc.
“Yeah. He said, ‘Richie? You still there?’ I didn’t know what to say. I never imagined it could ever happen.”
The two-time Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year will be part of the Class of 2021 that includes two-time Ray Guy Award winner Ryan Allen, three-time Gulf States Conference champion golfer Roy Pace, five-time All-American jumper Bryant Wesco, Kodak All-American Debra Williams and Super Bowl Champion cornerback Tramon Williams.
The six-person class will be enshrined into the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame this fall. More details on the exact time and location of the event will be released soon.
LeBlanc led the Bulldogs to the 1986 and 1987 NCAA Regionals while being named the Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year both seasons. During his Bulldog career, he recorded a mark of 29-8 in the circle while registering 18 complete games in 38 career starts. His 12 wins in 1987 is tied for the program record for most wins in a season.
“Coach (Pat) Patterson gave me a chance when a lot of schools basically said I would never play Division I baseball,” said LeBlanc. “He was real honest and open. And when I got the opportunity to come to Ruston … back in those days I didn’t have a car … my mom would bring me to school and drop me off. I remember coming into (the city limits of) Ruston with my mom and saying, ‘Well, I guess I’m home.’ My mom said, ‘No. No. No. This is only a place where you are going to school. This is not your home.’
“And 30 years later, it is my home.”
The 10th round draft choice by the Kansas City Royals in the 1987 MLB Draft etched his name in Bulldog lore after tossing 10 innings in a 5-4 extra inning win over LSU at JC Love Field in 1987.
Allen (Football, 2010-12) made history during his Bulldog career, becoming the first player to win back-to-back Ray Guy Awards as the nation’s top punter.
Pace (Men’s Golf, 1959-62) will become the first Bulldog golfer to be enshrined into the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame. He captured the Gulf States Conference individual title in 1960, 1961 and 1962.
Wesco (Track and Field, 1996-2000) becomes the fifth track and field athlete to enter the Hall of Fame. He was a five-time All-American for the Bulldogs in the triple jump and an 11-time Sun Belt Conference champion in the long jump and triple jump.
Debra Williams (Women’s Basketball, 1992-96) was one of the top scorers in Lady Techster history. The 1996 Kodak All-American and three-time all-Sun Belt Conference honoree still ranks No. 13 in career scoring (1,749 points) and No. 6 in career three-pointers made (136).
Tramon Williams (Football, 2002-05) began his career as a walk-on for the Bulldog football team, but he quickly made a name for himself on both the college and NFL levels. After earning a scholarship at Tech, Williams earned first team all-Western Athletic Conference honors.
With the addition of these selections, the Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame will be at 115 members.
PHOTO: Richie LeBlanc was a star pitcher for the Bulldogs in the mid-1980s (photo courtesy LA Tech Athletic Communications).