The South Terrebonne baseball team beat Morgan City 18-17 on March 30 — one of the most thrilling, action-packed games of the season.
But what the scoreboard said on the end of that day was insignificant to the bigger picture in play.
That ballgame marked an annual tradition for the Gators — their third-straight Strike Out Cancer baseball game, which raises proceeds for the Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center.
The event featured the ballgame, a silent auction and is now encompassing multiple sports with a softball event dedicated to the cause on the Gators’ campus.
To see how much it’s all grown is humbling to coach Mike Barba who said some things are just bigger than the game of baseball.
In this year’s game, the Gators players all wore different colored uniforms (after getting approval from Thibodaux Association umpires). Each color represented a color for a different form of cancer awareness.
“It’s just a great day,” Barba said. “It’s grown so much and it’s a day here that our kids really look forward to. It’s special. We’re proud of how it’s grown and proud of how the kids and the community have bought in to making this a special day.”
For Barba, the idea for the day hit close to home.
When he was a player at Nicholls, the Colonels did a similar thing where players would go visit a local medical facility and visit with patients being treated for cancer.
That day opened his eyes and introduced him to some of the people locally who are affected by the disease.
“At the time, I was young and I was like, ‘Man, what are we doing this for?’” Barba said. “But you get there and you see those people who are struggling and you see the smile you can put on their faces just by signing your name on a baseball and it just puts everything into perspective. That little round white ball can teach us a lot of things.”
So he put things in motion to give back as a Gator.
In his second season as the baseball coach at South Terrebonne, Barba hosted the inaugural game with the help of Terrebonne General Medical Center.
Those first two games in 2017 and 2018 raised close to $10,000 for the Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center.
This year, the event continued to soar with softball getting in on the act and the addition of the colorful jerseys on the baseball side — an emotional day for a Gators baseball and softball community which also has added incentive for cancer awareness because one of their own was diagnosed with the disease in recent years.
Morgan City players bought into the event and Barba said they were honored to be selected as the Gators’ opponent on what’s becoming a day that Gators fans circle on their calendars when the schedule is released every year.
Stan Gravois, the director of the Terrebonne General Medical Center Community Sports Institute, and a former coach at South Terrebonne, said he’s proud of Barba’s initiative to give back and make a difference.
Gravois and Barba both said that this year’s event will have been their most successful fundraiser yet, though a final tally is still being calculated.
“We give credit to Mike. This was his idea and he’s taken the ball and run with it,” Gravois said. “How much this is grown is just a credit to the hard work of this program for taking that idea and making it happen.” •