A day after placing six on the Southland Conference’s 1960s All-Decade Team, Lamar was once again recognized for its impressive baseball history as the school had 11 players on the 1970s All-Decade squad with Jim Gilligan earning recognition as one of the coaches of the decade.
The Cardinals were the dominant force in the Southland in the decade, picking up five conference championships and 252 wins to just 185 losses. Gilligan, who was a graduate assistant for LU’s first title in 1971, returned to Beaumont in 1973, helping Lamar set school records for wins in seven consecutive seasons.
His head coaching record for that time was 217-122, taking home Southland Coach of the Year honors in both 1976 and 1977.
“The level of Southland baseball in the 1970s was simply outstanding as the league transitioned into full Division I status and started making noise nationally,” league commissioner Tom Burnett said. “And, it was the beginning of Jim Gilligan’s outstanding and historic tenure at Lamar that continues to this day.”
Gilligan is one of two coaches the Southland is honoring from the decade. Louisiana Tech’s Pat Patterson joins Gilligan as co-coaches of the 1970s all-decade team.
“Sharing this award is one of the finest honors I’ve received in my career,” Gilligan said. “Pat was one of my best friends in coaching. He’s passed away now, but he had a great club. He was a really special guy.”
Gilligan began leading his alma mater in 1973, and added four Southland Conference championships to the school’s first title in 1971. His teams won three consecutive titles in 1975, 1976 and 1977 and added another in 1979.
Gilligan, himself a first-team All-Southland Conference pitcher in 1967 and a member of the league’s 1960s all-decade team, earned Southland Coach of the Year honors in 1976 and 1977 and led the Cardinals to NCAA regionals in 1976, 1977 and 1979.
During the 1970s, Gilligan coached three Southland Conference Pitchers of the Year and 24 all-conference players. During the decade, his teams were 217-122 (.640) overall and 77-37 (.675) in league play.
Among Gilligan’s all-conference players, nine found their way to the all-decade team, led by four-time all-conference second baseman Joe McCann. He is one of just two players to have named to the all-conference team four times, having earned distinction from 1976-79.
Outfielder Mike Laudig was a three-time all-conference player from 1976-78. They are joined on the all-decade team by pitcher Julio Alonso, a two-time first team selection in 1974 and 1975; outfielder Harold Flynn, who was a two-time all-conference player in 1976 and 1977; shortstop Louis Jones, an all-conference pick in 1977 and 1978.
Other Cardinals honored were third baseman Jeff Martin, who earned all-conference honors in 1978 and 1979; pitcher Rick Nesloney, an all-conference pitcher and the pitcher of the year in 1977; David C. Smith, an all-conference pitcher and the pitcher of the year in 1978; and, third baseman Billy Wearden, an all-conference pick in 1975 and 1976.
Two other Cardinals on the 1970s all-decade team — pitcher David Bernsen, who earn all-league honors in 1971 when he was the pitcher of the year and outfielder Mark Oldham, a two-time all-conference selection in 1970 and 1971 — played before Gilligan’s arrival as head coach.
The Southland Conference will continue to recognize all-decade teams in the coming days.