ARTICLE OF THE DAY
 
Honoring No. 23
by Billy Weaver
3/24/06

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 assistant coach.

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.
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Billy Weaver
billy.weaver@witntv.com