On April 11th Western Carolina University will honor Keith LeClair by
retiring his jersey prior to the Catamounts game against Clemson. A
deserving honor for a great man.
Coach LeClair is well known around eastern North Carolina for playing a
huge role in taking the ECU baseball team to national prominence but
many people forget what he meant to the baseball program at Western
Carolina. LeClair played baseball for the Catamounts from 1985-1988 and
helped lead the team to four consecutive Southern Conference
Championships. Following his playing days at WCU LeClair had a brief
professional career before returning to Western Carolina as an
It's very fitting that LeClair's jersey will be retired prior to a game
against Clemson, a team coached by the man who recruited LeClair and
gave him his first job in college coaching. Tigers head coach Jack
Leggett has a special bond with LeClair and the baseball programs at
WCU and ECU. So does Todd Raleigh, current Western Carolina head coach.
Raleigh played with LeClair at WCU and coached under him at Western
Carolina and East Carolina.
LeClair's "baseball family" extends far beyond WCU and ECU and so does
the No. 23. When you think of basketball's No. 23 you think of the
legend Michael Jordan for what he meant to the sport. In college
baseball No. 23 IS Keith LeClair.
In Cullowhee, North Carolina the No. 23 will be retired. No player at
Western Carolina will ever wear LeClair's jersey and some baseball fans
at ECU feel the same should be done in Greenville. I disagree. Prior to
each baseball season the No. 23 jersey is awarded to a deserving player
who best displays the hustle, determination and desire that made
LeClair a great coach and player. Ben Sanderson wore the No. 23 in
2003, Jamie Page in 2004, Brian Cavanaugh in 2005 and this year Adam
Witter has the honor of wearing No. 23. That's the way is should be.
Keith LeClair battles for his life every day and his number should
always live at ECU. On the baseball field and on the back of a young
player that may someday give back to baseball what Keith LeClair has
given to each one of us.