Larry Hays was one of eight men to be inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame during its annual celebration on Monday, June 29.
Members of the Lubbock community gathered at the Overton Hotel to celebrate Hays, as well as Joe Arnold, Lance Berkman, Al Holland, Bill Holowaty, Mike Kelly, Rick Reichardt, and Frank Viola, on their accomplishment of being named as the 2015 induction class.
When asked what it meant to be selected as an inductee, Hays humbly explained that the experience alone made him feel very lucky and very thankful to be a part of the programs at both LCU and Texas Tech.
“I don’t deserve it, but I’m glad it happened. It means a lot to me,” Hays said.
National College Baseball Hall of Fame Executive Director, Mike Gustafson, spoke fondly of Hays and his induction saying, “He’s obviously deserving, and, on a personal note, I played for him at Tech … It’s fun to see a deserving guy get honored. It’s the first legitimate personal connection I’ve had to an inductee, and, in that regard, it’s fun.”
Hays’ roots run deep at Lubbock Christian University. The Dora, New Mexico native earned an Associate of Arts degree from the school in 1964. He then earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern New Mexico University before returning to LCU as head coach of the men’s basketball team. In 1972, Hays reinstated Lubbock Christian University’s suspended baseball program and saw great success. The Chaps went 695-381-1 under Hays, collected eight NAIA District titles, two area championships, and a NAIA national title in 1983. Hays’ influence didn’t stop there. He also served as the head coach of the women’s basketball program from 1982 to 1983 and as athletic director from 1979 to 1986.
After a very successful coaching career at LCU, Hays went on to coach baseball at Texas Tech University for 22 seasons, compiling a record of 814-479-3 and an array of conference championships such as the Southwest Conference and the Big 12 Conference. He stepped down from Texas Tech as one of only nine coaches in NCAA history to achieve over 1,500 wins.
In 1991, Lubbock Christian University inducted Hays into its Hall of Honor and renamed its baseball facility to Hays Field in 1999 to honor Larry and his family. Hays’ achievements have gained him recognition beyond Lubbock. In 2001, Hays became the first college baseball coach in the state to be inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame and the MEAC Hall of Fame.
Hays briefly returned to LCU in 2008, assisting his son Shanon, who served as Lady Chaps head softball coach from 2008 to 2009, as he led the Lady Chaps program to the NAIA Softball National Championship title. He then replaced Shanon for the 2010 season, leading the Lady Chaps to the NAIA Softball National Championship tournament before handing over the reins to his son Daren in 2011.
With many fond memories during his career, Hays couldn’t think of just one to name as his favorite but said, “I liked it all. The good times, the bad times. The good times were good for me and the bad times were good for me. It has blessed [my wife] Nell and I to be a part of all of that.”