Take on Pirate Sports
From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, June 5, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9
Coach has scripted ECU program to
Rosenblatt in the sequel?
The Hollywood producers would have had a different
In Hollywood, the Pirates would have upset Clemson,
would have hosted and won a Super Regional, and would have gotten their
ailing coach to the College World Series.
But this year’s team fell short of advancing to the
next-to-last stop before reaching Rosenblatt Stadium, the Mecca of college
One day soon, though, East Carolina will make it to
Omaha — the destination to which its leader has firmly committed the
The Pirates have an outstanding baseball tradition,
but the word “Omaha” really didn’t come into play until Keith LeClair’s
arrival at ECU.
LeClair has made it the Pirates' goal each and every
year. They came very close last year, falling to Tennessee in the Super
This year’s team was expected to draw its ambitions
in a bit and rebuild. But, as the season unfolded, the 2002 Pirates, too,
had a shot at Omaha.
LeClair’s efforts will one day be rewarded. East
Carolina will make it to Omaha. That’s not a prediction, just something that
I really believe. I have seen it in LeClair’s eyes, and I know that the
future is solid for ECU baseball.
No. 23 takes
on new meaning
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I had a very nice visit with Coach LeClair just
before he left for Clemson and the regionals.
We talked baseball for about a half an hour. He
communicated by using an alphabet board, pointing to the letters as I
spelled out the words. He knew my educational limits and started slowly with
me. His wife Lynn joked that I must have done well, because he would stomp
his foot if the visitor didn’t understand after a couple of tries.
We talked about the regionals, which one was the most
difficult and that kind of thing.
I joked that at least the Pirates were in an easy
regional, and the coach rolled his eyes, laughing a bit at my sarcasm.
He told me that Jack Leggett and the Tigers weren’t
happy about the match-up. The coach indicated that he thought Wake Forest
would have been a better fit for the Pirates.
He asked me about my coaching this summer. He had
kidded me last year about getting thrown out of a girl’s fastpitch softball
game. I told him that I was calmer this year, taking the “Keith LeClair”
approach to umpires.
Lynn LeClair then told me that I should have seen
Keith in his younger days, coaching at Western Carolina. The coach had a
sheepish grin on his face when Lynn told me about LeClair’s run-ins with the
men in blue while at Western Carolina.
It was a great visit with the LeClair’s. They are
such strong people.
The disease can take away much, but it can’t touch
his spirit. Keith LeClair is a brave man. He is the bravest of fighters in a
battle for his life. He is an inspiration to us all.
I always thought of the number 23 with Michael
Jordan. Keith LeClair, though, is a true hero, and now I’ll always link 23
with the Pirate Coach!
I thoroughly enjoyed the visit. I came away convinced
that if anyone could beat this horrible disease, it was Keith LeClair.
Congratulations to the entire Pirate baseball family
on a remarkable season! It was a total team effort, from Kevin McMullan and
Tommy Eason, to the new line-up, to ECU's 'put-your-heart-into-it' fans, to
the awesome run in the Conference USA tournament.
Coach LeClair, you’ll remain in our prayers as we
take a break from baseball, and get set for next year’s run at Omaha and the
College World Series.
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02/23/2007 01:22:33 AM