Mainieri honored at Dodger Stadium

Bill Franques
Paul Mainieri (left) received the Rod Dedeaux Award in Dodger Stadium from USA Baseball GM Eric Campbell (center) and MLB legend Tommy Lasorda.

LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri received the 2018 Rod Dedeaux Award Saturday night in Los Angeles, recognizing his exemplary performance last summer as head coach of the USA Collegiate National Team.

Mainieri was presented the award in Dodger Stadium prior to the Dodgers’ game versus the Arizona Diamondbacks. Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers’ legendary Hall of Fame manager, and USA Baseball General Manager Eric Campbell made the presentation to Mainieri.

The award is named for the legendary University of Southern California and U.S. Olympic head coach Rod Dedeaux, who led the Trojans to 11 national championships and was instrumental in the creation of the annual USA versus Japan international friendship series in 1972. Dedeaux coached Team USA to the silver medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. He was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Mainieri is the second LSU coach to receive the honor – Skip Bertman won the Rod Dedeaux Award after coaching the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team.

“When I received the news that I was to receive the Rod Dedeaux Coach of the Year Award, it literally brought tears to my eyes,” Mainieri said in January when USA Baseball made the award announcement. “To receive something with the name ‘Rod Dedeaux’ on it moved me to tears because of the immense respect that I have for Rod. He is the ‘godfather of college baseball coaching’, a pioneer in the development of international baseball, and he was Tommy Lasorda’s best friend. The interactions that I had with him are times that I will always cherish.

“That, along with this being an award from USA Baseball, our nation’s baseball organization, and seeing the list of previous winners, including two of my mentors, Skip Bertman and Tommy Lasorda, makes this one of the most special recognitions that I’ve received in my career.”

Mainieri led the Collegiate National Team in the summer of 2018 to series wins over Chinese Taipei, Japan and Cuba. Under his guidance, Team USA started its summer undefeated against international competition with a five-game sweep of Chinese Taipei and finished with an 11-3 record. The series win against Cuba marked the Americans’ fourth in a row in the annual series and was just the second time in Collegiate National Team history that Team USA has claimed a series win on Cuban soil.

Mainieri’s Team USA assistant coaching staff included New York Yankees special assignment scout Jim Hendry, the former Chicago Cubs general manager and former Creighton head coach; Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor; East Carolina head coach Cliff Godwin; and St. Thomas University head coach Jorge Perez.

Mainieri has a 1,455-747-8 (.660) record in 37 seasons of collegiate coaching, including a 591-255-3 (.698) mark at LSU. He is No. 2 on the career wins list for active NCAA coaches, No. 10 in all-time NCAA wins, and he is one of only six coaches in NCAA history to have won over 1,400 games and a national championship.

Mainieri has guided LSU to the 2009 national championship and five College World Series appearances. During his tenure, the Tigers have captured 30 team championships, including the 2009 NCAA title, eight NCAA Regional championships, five NCAA Super Regional championships, four Southeastern Conference championships, six SEC Tournament titles and six SEC Western Division crowns.