Arm troubles ended the collegiate career of former LSU pitcher Lou St. Amant in the 1960s, but he wasn’t done in the game of baseball – far, far from it.
St. Amant, a Destrehan High School alumnus, became an icon at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, where he served as the school’s head baseball coach for 18 seasons and brought tremendous success to his alma mater. So much success, in fact, that the school recently approved the renaming of ULM’s baseball field in his honor, “Lou St. Amant Field.”
The honor is a very special one for the longtime skipper.
“I’m so humbled by the fact the school would do that for me,” said St. Amant. “I was shocked … it’s a gigantic honor. Not many get to have that happen to them in their lifetime.”
St. Amant graduated from the school and joined the program as coach when ULM was named Northeast Louisiana University (the switch to ULM came in 1999).
St. Amant spent 18 seasons as the head coach of the NLU baseball team, picking up 414 career victories, and was instrumental in both the initial construction of the baseball facility in 1983 and the turf and Stadium Club renovation project, which culminated prior to the 2022 season.
There were several high points in St. Amant’s career. His first feat came in his initial season as head coach. After spending two years as an assistant, the 1970 NLU graduate took over in 1976 and led Northeast to a 20-13 record, halting a string of four consecutive losing seasons.
His first victory as a head coach came in his very first game, 6-2 over Northwestern State.
“We had tryouts,” St. Amant recalled. “I kept about 11 guys off of fall tryouts, and four ended up playing and helped us immensely. We had a few pretty good hitters, including an All-American, and we had good pitching. I was always one to play for a run early and let your pitching do the rest. We were in about 16 one-run games that year and we let the pitchers go to work.”
Northeast Louisiana was an NCAA Division I independent when the Norco native took over. St. Amant’s first three seasons were as an independent before NLU joined the Trans America Athletic Conference in 1979. The best finish for NLU in the TAAC was a tie for first in the West Division during the 1982 season.
Northeast joined the Southland Conference in 1983 and made a sudden impact. St. Amant led the Indians to their first conference title in any major men’s sport in the SLC. The Indians also advanced to the NCAA playoffs for the first time. They had previously played in the NAIA playoffs four times, reaching the 1970 World Series, before becoming an NCAA member.
“The year before I came, we hadn’t had a winning season. Two years before, they had to go get guys out the dorm to finish,” St. Amant said.
“My proudest thing, though, is that we had about a 92 percent graduation rate. We won a couple of championships there, and we had four or five guys go on to the big leagues.”
He made Monroe his home when he took the job, and he’s been there ever since.
“I’ve had chances to leave, but my wife and I decided to stay here because we believe in the school,” St. Amant said.
Prepping at Destrehan High School, St. Amant was an outstanding high school player who continued his career at LSU. Difficulties with his pitching arm ended his career at LSU. After leaving LSU, St. Amant started his teaching and coaching career at schools in south Louisiana. He spent time at Sacred Heart School in Norco (1960-64), St. Charles Boromeo in Destrehan (1964-66 and 1967-68) and St. Joan of Arc School in LaPlace (1966-67) before joining Northeast as an assistant coach.
After his graduation in 1970, St. Amant returned to the high school ranks. His greatest success came during five years as athletic director and head football coach at Lutcher High School, where he posted a 44-13 record, including LHSAA Class 3A state championship and runner-up teams. His 1975 squad went undefeated at 13-0-1 in taking the Class 3A title.
“It was five years where my wife and I were treated greatly and received wonderfully by that community,” St. Amant said. “We were 3-6-1 in our first year and we went on to win 41 games over the next four years. Everybody got behind the program, we had such great support from the people there.”
That got the attention of his collegiate alma mater, and he’d soon receive a job offer.
Returning to NLU in January of 1976, he was also an assistant football coach, but dropped those duties in 1979 to devote all of his time to baseball.
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