BYU athletic administrators finally are embracing the idea of retiring jersey numbers in various sports, after not conducting such ceremonies for a long time.
And now they’re getting creative about it. They’re doing something for former baseball coaches Glen Tuckett and Gary Pullins that they’ve never done for other legendary Cougar coaches.
It’s all because baseball coaches actually wear uniforms. That’s enabling the school to retire numbers in honor of Tuckett and Pullins prior to Saturday’s 1 p.m. game against San Francisco at Miller Park in Provo. Tuckett wore No. 20; Pullins who also played for the Cougars, wore both No. 1 and No. 30.
It’s not as though BYU has ignored other coaches, considering how the school’s football and track stadiums names of LaVell Edwards and Clarence Robison and Stan Watts’ banner hangs in the Marriott Center. Yet there’s something especially cool about having a number retired, and Tuckett and Pullins are deserving after combining to coach the Cougars for 41 seasons, ending in 1999.
They made BYU baseball nationally relevant, to a degree that’s unlikely to be matched again.
Anyone who grew up in Utah in my generation is inclined to believe that Tuckett invented baseball - at least, the college version of it. He made BYU baseball a big deal in Provo and made a broad impact with the program the program by qualifying for the College World Series in 1968 and ‘71.
In 1976, Tuckett became BYU’s athletic director and Pullins took over the baseball program. As a second baseman, Pullins helped the Cougars reach the CWS in ‘68. He never could get his team to Omaha as a coach, but BYU made nine appearances in the NCAA Tournament as the level of competition kept increasing.
There’s a long list of baseball players that BYU needs to consider honoring with jersey retirements in the coming years - including Dane Iorg, Wally Joyner and Cory Snyder, to name just a few. But Saturday’s tribute to Tuckett and Pullins is a good start.