New Orleans, La. - LSU and Southern Mississippi's annual meeting in the Pontiff Classic is much more than a chance for the teams to visit a different fan base, it's a chance for everyone to reminisce on the life of Wally Pontiff, Jr.
The 2013 installment marks the 10th tribute to the former Tiger baseball player who died of a genetic heart condition in 2002. His dad is proud of what the event has become "We call it the New Orleans, Baton Rouge game, because of the fact that everybody tailgates. And the great thing is that they've been a part of it for so long, they come just to be a part of it. I really think it's in honor of Wally and honor of LSU that they come to enjoy the game."
When LSU and Southern Miss square off at Zephyr Field Wednesday night, thousands of fans will remember number 31, whose legacy continues to bring people together.
"It gives us great joy and it gives us sadness because we only knew him at that age, but it's a great honor for us that people still remember him. This was done not for us, bit for the people who have been so good to Wally, and we wanted the kids here to keep that dream alive. We wanted them to know, hey these are real players, real human beings, and it's great to have them come out and see these kids play. And at the same time, get autographs, and I think more than anything else, it's a great feeling for all of us that it brings great joy to our family."
The Classic has become known as a very fan-friendly event that showcases great collegiate baseball and carries a strong tradition of helping others.
"Thank y'all in honor of Wally, because this is what Wally wanted to do is give back. Right now the greatest thing is we're building batting cages at Pontiff Park in excess of $75,000, so we couldn't do it without the game. And people come, and hopefully we'll have a great night tomorrow night with no rain."