Gator Land

July 29, 2013 – In late June, I spent a few days with former Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry in his hometown of Scott, Louisiana for a feature story that will appear in the August Issue of Yankees Magazine.

Thanks to the access into his life that Gator provided me with, I believe this feature is as exclusive as any story about the Cy Young Award winner you will ever read.

On my first day in Guidry’s hometown of Scott, Louisiana, I conducted a two-hour interview with him. The interview took place in a metal barn that sits in the middle of his 65-acre backyard. Within the barn — which also holds Guidry’s tractors — there is a large room that includes a full kitchen, living room and dining room.

“People always ask me if I have a man cave,” Guidry said at the beginning of the interview. “This isn’t just any man cave. It’s the ultimate man cave.”

During the interview, Gator discussed the many things that keep him busy today.

“I cut the grass every week,” Guidry said. “I usually mow for about two hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. When I’m done mowing, I usually move on to the next project. Once duck hunting season begins, I go out about 20 times a month.”

Of course, Guidry, who retired from baseball in 1988, has also been a mainstay at Spring Training.

“I can’t believe I’ve been going to spring training for almost 25 years,” he said.

After the interview, Guidry brought me to nearby Lafayette to see the field he played baseball on for the first time (pictured below). Not only did Gator begin his baseball life on that field when he was 8 years old, but he also pitched a Perfect Game and several no-hitters on that same diamond as a kid.

“I knew [my mother] would never let me play baseball,” Guidry said. “But I talked to my dad about it, and he said, ‘If you want to play, you don’t have to tell Mama anything about baseball. I will take care of everything.’ A few weeks later, we had our first game, and that’s when we decided to tell Mama what was going on. She watched my first game from the car, but as time went on, she realized that baseball wasn’t as dangerous as she thought.”

After visiting Guidry’s childhood field, we made a stop at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (pictured below). In the early 1970s, Gator pitched there, before being drafted by the Yankees.

The next night, Guidry showed off another one of his passions — cooking. Amid the 90-degree heat, Gator wheeled a portable deep fryer out from the barn and onto a giant field. There, he fried 40 frogs’ legs (pictured below).

Guidry certainly didn’t need any help from me, but I was thrilled when he allowed me to assist him in preparing the frogs’ legs. The entire trip was a thrill, and that part of it was my favorite part of it.

After the frogs legs’ were cooked, we drove to Guidry’s house, where we met up with his wife Bonnie, as well as the couple’s children and grandchildren for a dinner that included frogs’ legs, fried chicken fingers, shrimp creole, stuffed potatoes and asparagus stuffed in bacon.

After dinner, Gator and Bonnie shared one story after another about their life in the minors — prior to New York. They also shared plenty of stories from their time in the Big Apple.

Again, this story will be published in the August Issue of Yankees Magazine, and if you are a passionate Yankees fan, you won’t want to miss it.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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