It's Muhammad Ali week for the University of Louisville baseball team.
U of L third baseman Blake Tiberi said all the inspirational quotes used for the team this week in preparation for the NCAA Super Regionals that begin on Saturday are from Ali, who passed away at age 74 last Friday.
"He had some great messages," Tiberi said.
Ali was also a long-time supporter of the U of L baseball program. His son, Asaad, played for U of L from 2009-12 and Ali and his wife, Lonnie, were frequent visitors to Jim Patterson Stadium. He was planning on attending the College World Series if the Cardinals make it.
Now, the Cardinals are honoring him on their Road to Omaha.
The Cardinals had a patch that reads "Ali" sewn into the side of every baseball cap they will wear this weekend. The Super Regional will begin at noon on Saturday in the best-of-three series between U of L and UC Santa Barbara.
"He meant a lot to this program," U of L junior Corey Ray. "The relationship he has with this program and the university was unbelievable, and not only us but the whole sports world. He meant so much to so many people."
U of L coach Dan McDonnell said the team will also get the opportunity to meet privately with Ali's widow, Lonnie. The team isn't able to attend the funeral services on Friday but McDonnell said they "wanted to pay our respects."
"For us just to be able to show our respect to Lonnie and to the Muhammad Ali family is going to be great and something that we're all looking forward to doing," junior pitcher Zach Burdi said.
Added Tiberi: "It's a great feeling knowing what he has done for this program and for the university. It's the least we can do, to show them our respects. It's comforting knowing that going through their struggles they're still thinking about us and supporting us 100 percent."
McDonnell visited with Asaad and Lonnie just two weeks while they were attending the Cards’ games at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Durham, N.C. Last fall, the Ali's gave half of Muhammad’s $100,000 prize for winning U of L’s Grawemeyer Spirit Award to the school’s athletic scholarship fund to begin the Muhammad Ali Leadership Baseball Scholarship.
U of L senior Danny Rosenbaum was the first recipient.