Larry Hays #27 Retired

Former Head Baseball Coach Larry Hays

Former Head Baseball Coach Larry Hays

FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE

On a typical March evening in West Texas, Texas Tech and Lubbock Christian University paid tribute to a man who was anything but.

An individual who single-handedly defined college baseball in the city of Lubbock for over 30 years took his rightful place in both school’s athletics lore. Never again will No. 27 grace the diamonds or dugouts of Texas Tech and Lubbock Christian, instead, that number will hang proudly and should be a source of inspiration for each and every one of us.

Larry Hays’ impact on the game of baseball in this community was present everywhere you turned on Monday night at Dan Law Field.

You could see it in the proud looks and big hugs of his former players who were on hand to see their coach get his rightful due. This was a man who earned their trust and, in turn, they gave him their respect, dedication to the game and, along the way, a lot of wins. Hays has always been a player’s coach and that was clear this evening.

You could see it in the faces of the thousands who gathered at Dan Law Field to celebrate a man who had put their schools and community on the map. Who had ever heard of college baseball in Lubbock before Larry Hays? The answer is simple – no one.

Tonight, as I looked into the stands during the ceremony, a young boy around the age of 10 caught my eye. Sporting a red Texas Tech hat with a big Double T pushed down over his ears, he held close what looked to be like a brand new baseball glove. But it was not the hat and the glove that struck me most but the look of sincere admiration that was expressed from ear to ear.

In that moment, I began to reflect and ponder the years I had spent with Coach Hays and the profound impact that he had on me. Sometimes we take for granted those who surround us in our daily lives and we don’t realize just how blessed we are.

For nine years, I had the privilege of working around a true coaching legend. A love for the game that began as a kid only blossomed as I gained a deep understanding of what makes this sport so very cruel at times and yet so rewarding. And I learned it all from a man who had dealt with the game in its cruelest of forms and also reached its pinnacle.

Who knows? Maybe that young man in the stands will go on to a great career in baseball either as a player or a coach. Or, just maybe, he will be a lifelong fan of the greatest game on earth.

Either way, he was part of a historical moment in Red Raider Baseball history and I am sure it will be something he never forgets. Nor will any of us who were a part of it.

One of the most humble men you will ever meet left and incredible impact on our community, and sometimes it takes an event like the one tonight to put it all into perspective. His integrity, love for people and a desire to be the very best he can be has made him a true champion.

In an age where baseball heroes seem to fall more quickly than they climb, those of us in Lubbock and in the baseball community don’t have to look very far to find a true hero.

He will be escaping the spotlight at every opportunity and spending time with his family and friends whom he cherishes so much.

He’s anything but typical.