"Alex Box" is a name that's become synonymous with the outlines of LSU's campus. When driving down Nicholson Drive, it's impossible to miss the baseball stadium that is home to one of the great programs in the country.
It's a college baseball experience and atmosphere unlike any other in the sport. While many have heard the name Alex Box, many don't know the story behind the man that the stadium LSU baseball calls home is named after.
Alex Box was one of those gifted athletes that came to LSU in the late 1930s, chasing the dream of being a collegiate athlete in football. He was all-state in high school and also a track star, eventually coming to Baton Rouge to be the new halfback.
However, during his freshman season he dislocated his shoulder, ending his football career. So Box set his sights on baseball. At this time he was also pursuing a degree in ROTC studies as part of the engineering department.
After a successful career on the baseball team that saw him bat cleanup and play right field, Box graduated in 1942 where he was immediately shipped off to Britain for World War II. Box was killed in 1943 while laying minefields and prepping for a German attack when one of the minefields was accidentally discharged, killing Box and four others.
He was the first LSU athlete to die in World War II and the stadium was later named in his honor shortly after his death. Box's story is just one of the many former LSU players and coaches that have served their country in the military.
Legendary coach Paul Dietzel enlisted in the war in 1942 right before he was set to start a football career at Duke. He served as a "B-29 pilot" that primarily flew in missions over Japan. Dietzel, of course, went on to lead LSU to its first national championship alongside running back Billy Cannon.
“Those two and a half, three years, that was the greatest part of my life,” Dietzel later said about his service. “I owe it so much.”
Dietzel would also serve as a head coach for Army and South Carolina before returning to LSU in the late 1970's to be the athletic director. He passed away in 2013.
There were others, like former baseball and basketball coach Harry Rabenhorst and longtime strength and conditioning guru Alvin Roy, who helped Cannon become the Heisman winning athlete he turned out to be.
This is a day we remember and honor all veterans and thank them for their service. And for these past LSU legends, their sacrifices will never be forgotten and today is a reminder of that.