The Legacy of Paul Mainieri: former players reflect on the coach’s career

Geaux Nation

After 39 seasons as a coach, and 15 years at the helm of LSU baseball, Paul Mainieri announced Friday morning he will retire at the end of this season. 

He is the second-winningest head coach in program history and ranks No. 1 for most career wins among active NCAA Division I coaches. 

“I did the best I could,” an emotional Mainieri said at a press conference on Friday afternoon. “It gave me a great life. I got to fulfill my dream. I was honored to be the coach here.”

Mainieri was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014.

He championed the Tigers to six SEC Tournament titles and five College World Series appearances, including a national title in 2009.

Lafayette native and professional baseball player Mikie Mahtook was on that ’09 team.

“For him to get that first one, ended up being the only one, but the first national championship in his third year at LSU, I think that validated everything he was doing when he got there,” Mahtook says. “Unfortunately they couldn’t do it again, but they’ve gotten there numerous amounts of time. It’s a hard thing to do to win a national championship.”

Lafayette High product and pro baseball player Antoine Duplantis was coached by Mainieri from 2016-2019.

He says Coach Mainieri’s attention to detail is what made him so successful.

“He’s always watching,” Duplantis says. “He’s always paying attention to little things, to see who the guys he can rely on are, what separates the good ones from the bad ones. I think that’s what made him so successful. He doesn’t take anything for granted. He’s always paying attention to every little thing.”

Mainieri was hired by one of the greatest college baseball coaches of all time, then-LSU Director of Athletics Skip Bertman.

“I told Skip when I came here, my only goal was to make him proud,” Maineri said. “I hope I’ve done that.”

“I’m proud of you Paul,” Bertman said. “I’m proud of everything that he has done and that he’s accomplished.”

This season may not have lived up to the standard LSU fans have grown used to under Mainieri, but his career in purple and gold will not be defined by just one year.

“We’ve had some special moments,” Mainieri said. “One day I’ll reflect back on them and be pretty proud of a lot of the things that we did.”

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