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Former LSU Baseball Coach Dies

January 18, 2001 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Jim Smith, who took LSU to its first NCAA postseason baseball tournament and won the Southeastern Conference title in 1975, has died following a long illness. He was 69.

``Coach Smith went out of his way for guys,″ said Pat Moock, a pitcher who led LSU with 10 wins in 1975. ``I know he gave me a chance.″

Smith, who died Wednesday, coached from 1966-78. His 1967 team finished 17-13 and played in the SEC tournament for the first time since winning the conference title in 1961.

The 1975 team went 40-16 and won the SEC title with a 19-3 record, breaking the record for league wins by three and reaching the NCAA playoffs for the first time. The Tigers were eliminated in the NCAA South Regional.

The 40-win mark stood until 1985 when LSU went 41-18.

``That ’75 team was probably the least talented of the four years I was there,″ said Greg Ferrara, who played second base and was a designated hitter from 1973-75. ``Coach Smith took a bunch of role players and got us to play together.″

Besides being baseball coach, Smith was equipment supervisor for the LSU football team from 1960-81.

Smith was fired as baseball coach in 1978 after three straight losing seasons. He retired in 1981 and later worked as a sheriff’s deputy for East Baton Rouge Parish.

Smith is survived by his wife, Julia Cruse Smith, two sons and two grandchildren.

A funeral service was scheduled for Friday.