A.J. Giardina Blog: Why I still have a fondness for LSU - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

A.J. Giardina Blog: Why I still have a fondness for LSU


I grew up in New Orleans and use to listen to LSU football games on WWL-radio with my dad, uncles and aunts.  I can remember listening to LSU's season opener against Alabama in 1958.  I was 7-years-old and had no idea where the game was being played at the time, but I remember the announcer saying that a section of the stadium had collapsed.  I can still see the emotion of my family members, watching the concern on their faces hoping that the fans were safe.

That game was played at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile and it was Paul "Bear" Bryant's first Alabama game as the Crimson Tide head coach. LSU would win the game on a Billy Cannon late touchdown.  Luckily, no one was seriously injured in the stadium collapse of a section  of the end zone stands.

For the next five years I would listen to Tiger football games with my dad.  Unfortunately, my dad passed away at the age of 54 in August of 1963.  That didn't end my love for LSU.  I would continue to listen to LSU on WWL.  I guess it gave me a feeling that my dad was still with me.   I never did put that radio away.  Whenever the Tigers played football I had my trusty little radio with me.

I became a television sportscaster and obviously I would have to curb my excitement when LSU won...or in many cases, my depression when the Tigers would lose.

When I moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and became WLOX-Sports Director in June of 1979, I began covering Southern Miss, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.  I along with cameraman Rodney Billingsley would fly all  across the Southeast in single or twin engine planes, reporting on the Golden Eagles, Rebels and Bulldogs.

I would root for the State's Big Three and over the past 36 years experienced many exciting games.  But, most of the time I would bring my little radio and would try to dial-in WWL to get an update on how LSU was doing on the football turf.

LSU baseball jumped into the spotlight thanks to the coaching success of Skip Bertman.  In the late 1980's, I remember getting home after the 10 p.m. sportscast and listened to the LSU-Texas A&M NCAA playoff game.  The game was being broadcast on 1350-AM and the only way I could hear the game was to sit on my kitchen counter-top.  LSU had to beat the Aggies twice to advance to the College World Series and they did just that as the second and deciding game ended late that night.

On Tuesday LSU battled Cal State Fullerton in an elimination game at the College World Series.  I was able to watch the first four innings on television before I headed over to MGM Park in Biloxi to do an interview with Shuckers play-by-play announcer Chris Harris.  LSU was clinging to a 4-3 lead. 

I didn't have my little radio with me, but I was able to listen to the game on the car radio. 

Hats off to LSU head coach Paul Mainieri for making a change in his batting order.  The coaching staff decided to have Alex Bregman lead off and it paid off big time.  The Tigers came through with timely hits, six of them in the top of the third.  In that inning LSU scored four runs to take the lead, a lead they would not give up.  LSU prevailed 5-3.

Freshman pitcher Alex Lange was outstanding, despite giving up 3 runs in the bottom of the first inning.  The 19-year-old Tigers ace would retire 25 of the final 28 Cal State Fullerton batters and he tossed 10 strikeouts.

LSU survived and will play TCU Thursday night in another elimination game.  Vanderbilt sent the Horned Frogs into the losers' bracket thanks to a 1-0 victory Tuesday night.  

It will take a gallant effort for LSU to advance to the CWS best-of-three championship finals, but anything can happen and the Tigers have the talent to achieve that goal.  

I will be watching or listening on my little radio.  

I'll be 64-years-old on August 11, but I still feel like that little 7-year-old boy sitting down with my dad.

For those viewers who have watched me over the years and have seen me report on LSU athletics, now you know why I have a closeness to LSU.  

Memories are always sweet.

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