LSU coach Paul Mainieri named 2018 Rod Dedeaux Award winner
BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU coach Paul Mainieri was named Friday by USA Baseball as the recipient of the 2018 Rod Dedeaux Award, recognizing his exemplary performance last summer as head coach of the USA Collegiate National Team.
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. Mainieri will be honored this summer at the Golden Spikes Award and Rod Dedeaux Foundation Award Dinner, which will be held at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles.
“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. “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 (MLB Hall of Fame manager) 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 last summer 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 a 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.
“What a phenomenal group of young men that we lined up with every day,” Mainieri said. “I love them all and am so appreciative of the attitude they brought to the field every day. Although they are the best players in college baseball, there were no egos, only dedication to the team and a tremendous will to win. My life has been enriched having had the opportunity to get to know these wonderful people, and I will be their biggest fan as they go forward in their baseball careers.”
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.
“This past summer was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Mainieri said. “To have the opportunity to have three weeks in uniform with a staff made up of some of my best friends in the world spending time coaching and talking baseball is something I will never forget. Having Jim Hendry as bench coach and working so closely with him was a dream come true.
“Brian O’Connor and Cliff Godwin worked so hard in advance of the summer, and then every day we were together to develop our pitchers and hitters into a championship-caliber team. Jorge Perez executed a variety of responsibilities that contributed so much. And our athletic trainer, Mike Bean, gave our players the greatest health care possible. This was like a dream team staff for me and they deserve all the credit in the world for our success.”
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