Baseball Alumnus Catches Lifelong Bronco FeverBy Lindsay Myrback
Lou Lucas, the administrative assistant of travel for the 17 sport programs at Santa Clara University's Department of Athletics, has dedicated the last 44 years of his life to developing talented students not only in the classroom, but on the field as well.
Lucas' passion for working in education and athletics was inspired by his high school baseball coach Bob Fatjo. "He was a man who was not only interested in baseball, but in every one of his players as a person," said Lucas, who has since carried this value with him throughout his career.
Lucas' longstanding career at Santa Clara University began in 1949 when he enrolled as a student-athlete after earning a scholarship to play baseball on the Mission Campus. "We used to be in a league that included Stanford, California, Saint Mary's, University of Southern California and UCLA," Lucas said. "We held our own against everybody except USC; they were perhaps one of the finest teams for years and years in the whole country."
Santa Clara compiled a 62-39-0 record during Lucas' tenure as a catcher on the Bronco squad. When asked what he loved about catching, Lucas simply replied: "You've got the best seat in the house."
In June 1953, Lucas graduated from Santa Clara with a Bachelor of Science in History. The following November he reported to active duty in Fort Sill, Okla., to continue his training as an artillery officer to fulfill his two year obligation of ROTC training at Santa Clara. "My timing in history was terrific," said Lucas. "In July of 1953 the truce in Korea was signed."
When Lucas returned to the Bay Area, he enrolled at San Jose State to work on his general secondary teaching credential, which he completed in 1957.
Lucas returned to his high school alma mater, Bellarmine, to coach baseball, following the completion of his second degree. After coaching for four years, Lucas ventured to Santa Clara High School where he taught U.S. Government for 29 years.
"I used to put a saying up on the board everyday at the beginning of class as an attention grabber," Lucas said. "One that I used for years and years was the one I wrote on the board for parent night, which said: 'the right temperature at home is maintained by warm hearts, not hot heads.'"
Working at the high school made it easy for Lucas to help out with the Santa Clara Broncos' baseball program for 20 years. He started as an assistant baseball coach in 1971. In those days, the baseball program supported a strong junior varsity squad. "It was my job was to develop the younger talent," Lucas said.
Interaction with students has helped keep Lucas young over the years. His commitment to each and every one of his students was evident through his hard work. "For 18 years I didn't miss a day," Lucas said. "I'd get up every day at 6:30 in the morning, and to keep abreast of the current news around the U.S. I would watch the news. And way back when, the earliest so-called final news we had was at 11 o'clock at night, so I was going to bed after midnight every night. But then, thank goodness, came Channel 2 and its 10 o'clock news."
Lucas retired from Santa Clara High School in June of 1992 and began volunteering in the athletic department at Santa Clara University. Lucas handles the travel and lodging for all sports. "It is one less thing for the coaches to be concerned about and I feel they can devote more time to their recruiting and their coaching," Lucas explained.
"As far as the travel goes, you have no idea how valuable Lou is with our program," baseball head coach Mark O'Brien said. "Without question he has saved us months of work. Lou is one of the most loyal and genuine people I have ever been around. He would literally take the shirt off his back for you. Additionally, his knowledge of the baseball program is absolutely unbelievable. I think he knows every player who has ever put on an SCU uniform. He has a story for every baseball episode that has ever happened."
Men's basketball head coach Dick Davey had similar sentiments about Lucas: "I have known Lou for 27 years. He is a great man. He is the type of individual that can make light of any situation; he's a comedian.
"One of Lou's greatest contributions to Santa Clara has been his loyalty," Davey continued. "He is the type of guy that can't do enough to help you; he is concerned with everyone. One of my best memories of Lou is when he and his wife used to come to all of our games and they would sit in the same place at every game. I just can't say enough about him."
The generosity the University demonstrated in awarding Lucas a scholarship fueled his drive to volunteer with the athletic department. "I was really thankful," Lucas said. "Of course my folks were really appreciative too of the fact that we didn't have to spend a dime."
Lucas comes into the office everyday on his own hours according to how much work he has to do. "When I came here I told the athletic director that I would have my own hours because for 33 years when the bell rang I had to be in a certain place," said Lucas.
"They wanted to give me a computer, but old dogs are kind of stubborn at times, and with my knowledge of technology, on the educational highway I would be a hitchhiker," Lucas continued. "So, I just master faxes and voicemail."
Lucas is also currently involved as a volunteer with the Saint Francis Lancers baseball program under head coach Chris Bradford. "Some of my Bellarmine friends didn't like the idea that I was coaching at Saint Francis and I got a lot of heat about that," said Lucas.
Overtime, Lucas has earned two Hall of Fame nominations. He was named to both the Santa Clara University and Bellarmine High School Hall of Fame.
Lucas was a member of the California Teachers Association and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Santa Clara Alumni Association for three years. He currently sits on the Bellarmine Athletic Hall of Fame Committee.
In the midst of Lucas' busy schedule, he made time to raise a family with his departed wife, Margaret. He is a proud father of four and grandfather of five.
Lucas summed up his career at Santa Clara with: "Some of the finest people anyone had an opportunity to meet have gone through Santa Clara. It has been a great experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I would do everything all over again the same way."