Brian VanderBeek

Beek’s Blog: Remembering Chandler Laurent

I just received word that former Modesto Nuts' outfielder Chandler Laurent has died in a car accident.

According to NOLA.com, Laurent’s auto slammed into the back of an 18-wheeler about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Here's the NOLA.com story

Chandler didn't have a great baseball career, and Modesto was the highest level he achieved. But there are some personalities that you'll always remember, and Chandler was one of those.

Here’s what I wrote about Chander when he was a Nut:

Sept. 2, 2010

MEETING CHANDLER – There’s a lot to know about Modesto’s newest player, outfielder Chandler Laurent.

For starters he hails from Lacombe, La., at the top of Lake Pontchartrain, and he’s one of the few players in Modesto minor league history to be of Creole heritage.

But if you enter his name into a YouTube search panel, you’ll find video proof that this 22-year-old, whose roster height is 5 feet, 10 inches, is one strong young man. What pops up is a brief clip of Laurent performing a feat called “The Human Flag,” in which he holds onto a pole, extends both arms and holds a position parallel to the ground for several seconds.

He makes it look easy. It’s not. Try it yourself. I’ll wait.

See how tough it is? Here's the link to Laurent's video

“In the off-season I saw someone on YouTube do it and I wondered if I could do the same thing,” Laurent said. “The next day I tried it and it wasn’t that tough, so I kept doing it and got to where I could hold it for about 13 seconds. My buddy told me he wanted to see it, so I posted it on YouTube.”

That’s one way for Laurent to get your attention. But his preference is to make his mark on the diamond. He was in Thursday’s starting lineup for the Nuts and has hit .400 (six-for-15) in his six games since arriving in town from short-season Tri-City as the replacement for the injured Brian Rike. It’s not too far-fetched that Laurent could find his way to Modesto to start the 2011 season.

The best personal story Laurent can tell you has nothing to do with baseball and everything to do with what he was doing exactly five years ago, just prior to his senior year of high school, in the days after Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast.

And here’s his Katrina story, in his own words:

“We evacuated to my dad’s hunting camp in Tylertown, Mississippi (60 miles north of the coast town of Mandeville, La.) two days after the hurricane hit. It’s not really a house. It only has a heater and we only go there when it gets cold. There were 20 of us in a two-bedroom hunting cabin. The two oldest couples got the beds, and there were 16 of us all sleeping on the floor “The hurricane hit pretty hard there and knocked out the power, so we were for six days without water or electricity. It was hot and there were all kinds of flies and mosquitoes around, and we couldn’t shower for a week.

“We finally made our way back home. We live on a pretty big hill, so our place didn’t get any water damage. A tree happened to fall on my bedroom and that was the only damage we got to the house. We have a pretty good bit of land and it took two days to get all of the trees picked up and cleared out, but we were without electricity for two months. We had two generators and filled all our gas cans before we left.

“The whole thing brought us close together, because the whole family moved into the living room, with the generator powering a window air conditioning unit. The good thing is that we were able to help a lot of other people who had a lot of water and mud damage, people who lived right on the water.”

Laurent will be going home after the season, and the first thing he’ll be doing is eating. Well, maybe hunt first and then eat, because for him the two go hand-in-hand.

“I stay away from the seafood here because it’s not the same as catching it and cooking it yourself,” he said. “When I get home, I’ll be fishing and crabbing, just doing it for fun. My dad fishes and hunts and pretty much my whole family does the same. I’ve been doing it since I was small.”

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