ST. PETERSBURG - Luther Earl "Pete" Stroud, whose coaching and love for the game developed a generation of talented, young baseball players in St. Petersburg, died Monday at Bayfront Medical Center after a long illness. He was 74.
Mr. Stroud, whose son Rick is a St. Petersburg Times sports writer, was born in Greenville, S.C. But his St. Petersburg roots went back more than a half-century.
In 1951, he was a catcher for the St. Petersburg Saints of the old Florida International League.
Mr. Stroud began coaching youth baseball here in 1957. From then until the mid 1980s, he balanced his job in Florida Power Corp.'s line department with his passion for teaching baseball. It was common for him to go to work in the morning, taking his baseball clothes with him so he could change at the diamond later. "He was really able to teach us well, and he he was passionate for the game. Baseball was Pete," said sports agent Jim Neader, who played for Mr. Stroud on a 1965 Florida Junior Major League (13 and 14-year-olds) team that won state.
Sports writers once estimated Mr. Stroud helped more than 100 of his proteges win college scholarships. Several played at the minor-league level and others went on to the majors.
Mr. Stroud spent two years as coach at Boca Ciega and nine as an assistant at St. Petersburg Junior College. He also was a scout for the Cincinnati Reds.
A memorial service is 3 p.m. Tuesday at Anderson-McQueen Funeral and Cremation Centers-Tyrone, 7820 38th Ave. N. Those who wish may make memorial contributions in Mr. Stroud's name to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 5959 Central Ave., Suite 202, St. Petersburg, 33710.