Smoke Laval Season 2023
451-268-1 (.627, 12 seasons)
210-109-1 (.658, five seasons)
Raymond “Smoke” Laval served as LSU’s head baseball coach for five seasons (2002-2006) before resigning his position on June 4, 2006. In five years at the helm of the LSU program, he guided the Tigers to two College World Series berths, two NCAA Super Regional titles, three NCAA Regional championships, one SEC title, two SEC division championships and two Top 10 finishes.
Laval, the 2003 SEC Coach of the Year, directed LSU to the best SEC regular-season record during his five-season tenure, posting an 88-60-1 (.594) mark in league games.
Laval ’s 2006 LSU squad registered a 35-24 overall mark (13-17 in the SEC), and the Tigers finished eighth in the conference standings. LSU posted a 1-2 mark in the SEC Tournament; however, for the first time since 1988, the Tigers did not receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Senior outfielder Quinn Stewart was named to the 2006 first-team all-SEC squad as he led the league with 23 home runs. Stewart, a fifth-year senior, signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays just prior to the ?06 Major League Baseball draft. Three LSU players were selected in the draft, including relief pitcher Will Harris (ninth round, Colorado), catcher Matt Liuzza (19 th round, Toronto) and pitcher Edgar Ramirez (36 th round, New York Mets).
The 2006 club also featured several outstanding newcomers, including second baseman J.T. Wise, a Freshman all-America and Freshman all-SEC selection, and outfielder Jarred Bogany, a Freshman all-SEC choice.
LSU earned its 17th consecutive final Top 20 ranking in 2005, as the Tigers finished the season No. 18 in both the Baseball America poll and the Sports Weekly/ESPN rankings. The Tigers advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 17th straight season, recording a 40-22 final overall record. LSU played host to an NCAA Regional tournament for the 16th straight year, competing as a No. 1 seed for the 14th time in 16 seasons. LSU reached the 40-win mark for the 17th consecutive season.
Laval directed the Tigers to the 2005 SEC Western Division championship with an 18-12 conference mark. LSU won 13 of its final 17 league games to claim the division title, which was the 13th in school history and the fourth for LSU this decade.
Six LSU players were selected in the 2005 Major League Draft, the highest total since eight Tigers were drafted in 2001. The drafted players included a pair of all-Americans ? outfielder Ryan Patterson (fourth round, Toronto) and pitcher Greg Smith (sixth round, Arizona).
LSU placed 12 players on the 2005 SEC Academic Honor Roll, the highest total in the program’s history. Pitcher Jason Determann was named the SEC Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year with a 3.781 gpa in biology. Pitcher Jordan Faircloth received the SEC Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship, and he was named to the SEC Good Works team.
LSU’s 2005 total home attendance with 36 playing dates was 270,300, the seventh-largest figure in LSU history. The average paid attendance in 2005 was 7,508, which is the third-highest average in LSU annals.
Laval guided LSU to its second consecutive final Top 10 ranking in 2004, as the Tigers finished No. 7 in the Baseball America poll and No. 8 in the Collegiate Baseball poll. The final rankings culminated a magnificent 2004 season that also featured record-breaking marks for academic achievements and attendance figures.
The 2004 Tigers advanced to the College World Series for the second straight season, recording a 46-19 overall record, LSU’s best mark since the 2000 club finished 52-17.
LSU played host to an NCAA Regional for the 15th straight season, winning the tournament with consecutive victories over Army, Southern Mississippi and College of Charleston. The Tigers then played host to an NCAA Super Regional for the third time in five years, defeating Texas A&M in a best two-of-three series to earn a berth in the CWS.
The 2004 Tigers had the best offensive club in the SEC, completing the year with a .333 team batting average, the second-highest in school history. The Tigers were led by two first-team all-SEC players ? right fielder Jon Zeringue, the 2004 SEC Co-Player of the Year and a first-team all-America selection, and center fielder J.C. Holt, a third-team all-America choice. Zeringue was selected in the second round of the 2004 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Holt was the third-round pick of the Atlanta Braves.
LSU placed 12 players on the 2004 SEC Academic Honor Roll, and the Tigers’ 2004 total home attendance with 36 playing dates was 284,328, the third-largest figure in school history. The average paid attendance in 2004 was 7,898, which is the highest average in LSU annals.
Laval led the 2003 Tigers to the Southeastern Conference title — LSU’s first since 1997 — and a berth in the College World Series. He was voted the 2003 SEC Coach of the Year, directing LSU to a 45-22-1 overall record and a 20-9-1 conference mark, as the Tigers finished No. 5 in the final Baseball America rankings.
LSU played host to an NCAA Regional tournament for the 14th straight season and captured its eighth consecutive regional title. The Tigers entertained Baylor in an NCAA Super Regional series, defeating the Bears in two of three games to earn LSU’s first CWS berth since 2000. LSU also set an NCAA total attendance record in 2003, drawing 291,676 patrons to Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers’ shortstop, Aaron Hill, was named 2003 SEC Player of the Year and a first-team all-American. Hill was the first-round draft selection (13th pick overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays.
The magnificent ?03 campaign augmented the success Laval enjoyed in his inaugural season as LSU’s coach, as he led the 2002 Tigers to a 44-22 overall mark, an appearance in the NCAA Super Regional and a No. 11 final national ranking. Laval, named the 2002 Louisiana Coach of the Year by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association, continued the phenomenal tradition of excellence created by his predecessor, the legendary Skip Bertman.
Laval, who served seven seasons (1994-2000) as the head coach at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, assumed control of the LSU program from Bertman, who led the Tigers to five NCAA championships and 11 College World Series appearances during an 18-year (1984-2001) tenure. Laval worked as Bertman’s top assistant coach for 10 seasons (1984-93), helping lead LSU to its first two NCAA titles in 1991 and 1993. During Laval’s 10 years as assistant coach, LSU posted a 483-182-1 record, won five SEC titles, appeared in six College World Series and captured two national championships.
Laval helped Bertman create what became the nation’s No. 1 college baseball program. Accordingly, Bertman rewarded Laval with the opportunity to perpetuate the Tigers’ outstanding heritage.
Laval was known at LSU as one of the nation’s best recruiters and brightest assistant coaches, as the Tigers reached the College World Series in only the third season (1986) of the Bertman-Laval regime. LSU followed the ’86 CWS appearance with Omaha berths in 1987, 1989 and 1990 before the Tigers claimed the school’s first baseball national title in 1991. After LSU captured its second NCAA crown in 1993, Laval departed Baton Rouge to become the head coach at Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe).
During his assistant coaching tenure at LSU, Laval — who worked as the Tigers’ primary recruiter – tutored 24 players who would eventually reach the major leagues. Some of the major leaguers with whom Laval worked include all-stars Albert Belle (Cleveland, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore) and Paul Byrd (New York Mets, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Atlanta, Los Angeles Angels, Cleveland), and first-round draft picks Ben McDonald (Baltimore, Milwaukee), Rick Greene (Cincinnati, Minnesota), Todd Walker (Minnesota, Colorado, Cincinnati, Boston, Chicago Cubs) and Russ Johnson (Houston, Tampa Bay, New York Mets, New York Yankees).
Laval has also worked as an evaluator for USA Baseball, as he helped select the members of the 2003 U.S. Pan American Games team.
Laval compiled a 241-159 (.603) mark as the head coach at ULM, guiding the Indians to NCAA Regional appearances in 1995, 1999 and 2000. The 2000 club posted a 41-22 mark en route to the Southland Conference title, tying the ULM record for wins. Laval, the 1999 SLC Coach of the Year, also led the Indians to the 1999 regular-season title and to the 1995 conference tournament crown. He was voted the 1995 Louisiana Coach of the Year by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association.
Laval helped make ULM baseball one of the hottest attractions in the Northeast Louisiana region. The Coaches Committee, a baseball booster organization started by Laval, grew from 62 members in its first year to over 200 members by the end of his tenure.
Laval supervised major improvements to ULM’s Indian Field, including the addition of an outdoor batting facility, a picnic area for Coaches Committee members, renovations to the locker room, a players’ lounge, a new sound system and a new scoreboard.
Laval began his coaching career in 1977 as an assistant at Jacksonville University before moving to Wolfson High School in Jacksonville as a baseball and football coach. He served as a graduate assistant at LSU in 1979 under former Tiger head coach Jack Lamabe before working two years as an assistant at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla.
Laval served as an assistant coach at Florida for two seasons (1982-83) before returning to LSU to work under Bertman.
Laval holds a bachelor’s degree (1977) from Jacksonville in physical education and a master’s degree (1979) from LSU in administration. The McDonald, Pa., native played two seasons at Gulf Coast Community College, where he lettered as a catcher. He completed his playing career at Jacksonville, where he led the ninth-ranked Dolphins in hitting at the 1976 NCAA South Regional.
Laval and his wife, Pam, are the parents of two children, Brandon and Jamie.
The Smoke Laval File
Full Name: Raymond Peter Laval
Birthdate: December 20, 1955, in McDonald, Pa.
Wife: Former Pam Lewis of Reserve, La.
Children: Jamie and Brandon
1973 High School Diploma, South Fayette HS ( McDonald, Pa.)
1977 Bachelor’s in Physical Education, Jacksonville University
1979 Master’s in Administration, LSU
1970-73 Catcher, South Fayette High School
1974-75 Catcher, Gulf Coast Community College
1976-77 Catcher, Jacksonville University
1977 Assistant Coach, Jacksonville University
1978 Assistant Coach, Wolfson High School ( Jacksonville, Fla.)
1979 Graduate Assistant Coach, LSU
1980-81 Assistant Coach, Gulf Coast Community College
1982-83 Assistant Coach, University of Florida
1984-93 Assistant Coach, LSU
1994-2000 Head Coach, University of Louisiana-Monroe
2001 Administrative Assistant, LSU
2002-2006 Head Coach, LSU
HEAD COACHING RECORD
Defeated Three NCAA Tournament Teams
SLC Tournament Champions; NCAA Regional Participants
School-Record 41 Wins; SLC Louisiana Division Champions
Became Fourth Coach in ULM History To Record 100 Wins
Led SLC In Hitting For Third Straight Season
SLC Champions; NCAA Regional Participants
SLC Champions; NCAA Regional Participants
NCAA Regional Champions
SEC Champions; College World Series Participants
NCAA Regional & Super Regional Champions; CWS Participants
SEC Western Division Champions
SEC Tournament Participants
1995 Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
1999 Southland Conference Coach of the Year
2002 Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
2003 SEC Coach of the Year; Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year
2004 Louisiana Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year