Genius Of Skip Bertman Revealed In Book

NOTE:  The following is an excerpt from the new book Everything Matters In Baseball — The Skip Bertman Story.

This Hall of Fame coach led LSU to five national championships during his 18-years with the Tigers.

It includes 246-pages and 19 chapters including Skip’s Secrets To Success which delves into 12 areas.

The book can be purchased from Acadian House Publishing (Lafayette, LA) for $30, plus postage and handling.

To purchase this remarkable book, go to:

With Leo Honeycutt
© 2022 Skip Bertman Story, LLC

BATON ROUGE, La. — Skip Bertman did not necessarily invent the following principles and practices nor was he the only coach to use them.

But he mastered them like perhaps no other.

The Law Of Averages
“The law of averages says that if I have more guys who can steal home than the other team, and I practice with them, one day it may win for us,” Bertman said.

“Because the law says so. It’s like the lottery. Most people never win, but there’s always one person who wins, because it’s the law.”

Bertman rarely called a steal of home.

“But I want that bullet just in case,” he said.

It was there if he needed it, like the bunt defenses or pick-off plays he practiced with his team and “The Grand Illusion” hidden-ball trick play that worked to perfection against Wichita State in the 1982 College World Series when Bertman was the associate head coach/pitching coach at Miami as the Hurricanes won their first national title.

“I was always most concerned with the law of averages and large numbers in our favor,” Bertman said.

“If one guy’s missing, it matters. If one guy doesn’t practice well, it matters. If one guy has problems with a girlfriend or has bad grades and isn’t paying attention, it matters. In baseball, everything matters.”

Throughout his coaching career, the law of averages was important to Bertman, and he taught the law to his players.

They received a steady diet of videos of high- and low-percentage plays to the tune of The Bobby Fuller Four’s 1966 classic, “I Fought The Law (And The Law Won).”

Bertman remains No. 1 in NCAA post-season career winning percentage as LSU’s head coach at .754 with an 89-29 record. In this regard, he was above the law, so to speak, as he won all five National Championship games he reached in 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 2000.

“You figure you might lose one,” he said.

“I had some good fortune, and I had great players. And maybe if I was a better coach, we would’ve won more earlier on.”

When he says he should have won eight in all, as he often does, he is thinking also of the 1987, 1989 and 1998 teams he took to Omaha.

Bertman also finished his career at 15-0 at Alex Box Stadium in games played with advancement to Omaha or to the Super Regional on the line. (His team was eliminated from NCAA Regional play in Alex Box in 1992 and in 1995, but that was before the championship round — not in a game that had LSU won, it would have advanced.)

Bertman has been playing the percentages since he coached at Miami Beach High from 1965-1975 and with the Miami Hurricanes from 1976-1983 and at LSU from 1984-2001.

In another life, Bertman could have run a Las Vegas casino. In fact, when LSU played at Nevada-Las Vegas in 1991, he told the team, “Guys, Las Vegas is going to win.”

He was referring to the casinos.

“They don’t care if you walk away with a bunch of money, because over the long haul, Vegas wins,” 1989-91 pitcher Paul Byrd remembers Bertman saying.

“Same thing’s true when you pitch. If you get ahead of the hitter, you’ll win,” Byrd said.

“You may have a bad game, but over the long haul, you’ll win. An 0-2 hitter is drastically different than a 2-0 hitter. The importance of putting the percentages in your favor cannot be overstated. He pounded that into us.”

“Skip was the first to make me realize that when the four-hole hitter is 0-for-4 in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, buckle up,” said Doug Thompson, who pitched on LSU’s 1997 National Championship team.

“He’s due, Skip would say,” Thompson recalled.

“That’s how he saw the game. Most people would say, ‘He’s having a bad night. Strike him out again.’ That’s when you give up the home run.”

Thompson always wanted to throw a changeup while at LSU, but Bertman agreed only if he could get it over the plate seven out of 10 times in the bullpen.

“It’s a law,” Bertman said.

“It’s not a real pitch to Skip unless you can throw it where he wants it seven out of 10 times,” Thompson said.

Thompson never hit seven, but Bertman let him try a couple of changeups outside of Omaha.

“Both were absolutely annihilated,” Thompson said.

Oklahoma’s Justin Elsey hit a 2-run home run off a changeup in LSU’s 14-3 win in the NCAA Regional in 1997. And Bertman couldn’t resist: “You happy now, Dougie boy?”

For Bertman, playing percentages added up to five titles.

“It’s not a theory,” he said. “It’s not a principle. It’s a real law. There’s no question about it.”

To read more of this excerpt, purchase the Oct. 1, 2022 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. The excerpt includes four more areas of Skip’s Secrets To Success, including The Pitching Lab, The Yellow Book, The Shake Off and Why Hiring A Lefty Assistant Coach Was Vital.