It’s been a year that City of Vidalia Recreation Director Johnny Lee Hoffpauir would want to forget.
Until last week, that is.
Hoffpauir has spent all year battling winter rains, seepage water and a coronavirus which shut down all activity at the Recreation District No. 2 Complex.
But 2020 became a year to remember on May 20 when Hoffpauir got the call that he is being inducted into the Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“It was a total, total surprise,” said Hoffpauir, who had a 478-207 record at Vidalia High coaching from 1979 to 2010. “What I like about this is that it is voted on by your peers.”
Hoffpauir will be inducted in January 2021 along with Larry Schneider of Rummel, Larry Stegall of Downsville, John Altobello of De La Salle, Bob Lemons of St. Amant former Tulane coach Rick Jones and former Southeastern Louisiana coach Jay Artigues..
Hoffpauir, who had only five losing seasons out of 32, actually coached an East All-Star Team againt Lemons’ West team.
Hoffpauir was told of the honor by LBCA Executive Director Tim O’Neal.
“I am very humbled,” Hoffpauir said. “Very rarely am I at a loss for words, but I was definitely speechless when I was informed of this.”
“We made four trips to the State Tournament and that was before everything was split,” said Hoffpauir, who led Vidalia to the Class 2A State Championship in 1996.
Vidalia made the semifinals in 2002, losing out to Christian Life 9-7. The Vikings fell to St. Frederick in the 2003 semifinals, the only loss the Vikings suffered that season.
No public school had won the Class 2A state title since Vidalia in 1996.
“I always wonder about how it would have been split back then,” Hoffpauir said. “We would have made many more runs. We were the last public school standing a lot of years.”
Hoffpauir brought back the Vidalia High baseball program in 1979.
His first game was a 22-21 win over Tallulah.
Hoffpauir picked up win No. 100 on March 28. 1991 in a 2-1 win over Cathedral.
No. 200 came six years later in a 24-4 win over Northwood, while win No. 300 came against Mangham in 2002.
Hoffpauir taught American History at Vidalia High.
“I really loved teaching,” he said.
Hoffpauir also loves working on the Recreation District No. 2 Complex fields.The coronavirus shut down recreation activities on March 15
“We had a rough start because of the weather,” he said. “It was horrible in February and early March. We were battling to get those fields in shape. Everything was starting to come together and teams were getting into the heart of their schedules when we had it in the best shape it’s ever been in. I feel so sorry for the high school seniors who did not get to complete their last year. I look out the window and there’s not a kid on the field.”
Two employees of Hoffpauir — Joe Dallalio Jr., and Chuck DeWeese — were on Hoffpauir’s first team.
“I have to give a lot of credit to all the kids who played for me over the years.,” he said. “I look back at this little ol’ school that goes from the Mississippi River bridge to the western city limits and realize we accomplished a whole lot.”
Hoffpauir had three state Players of the Year in sons Josh and Jarrett Hoffpauir and Barry Bowden.
“All three signed pro contracts,” Hoffpauir said.
Hoffpauir, who was named Class 2A Coach of the Year twice, has had 40 players sign with colleges. Hoffpauir said one person deserves a place in the Hall of Fame, as well.
“My wife (Pam Hoffpauir) was my anchor through all the years,” Hoffpauir said. “I can’t count the number of times she collected money or worked tournaments. And I enjoyed coaching our sons. But in a sense very kid who played for me was considered family.”
And while all the wins were memorable, Hoffpauir admitted some rated higher than others.
“The highlight of my career was beating teams we weren’t supposed to beat,” he said.
Hoffpauir joins a handful of Concordia Parish coaches honored by hall of fames.
Former Ferriday Bulldog Max Fugler was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame last year, former Ferriday Bulldog coach Johnny “Red” Robertson was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, former Vidalia High football coach Dee Faircloth was inducted into the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/Louisiana High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame on January 29, 2014.
Former Monterey boys basketball coach Jack Bairnsfather was inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.