This week marks the second anniversary of the reinstatement of Cal baseball! We’d like to take this moment to thank everyone for helping to make this incredible moment possible. It is through all of our combined passion, generosity, and commitment, that Cal baseball has been returned to its rightful place at the University of California, Berkeley. This milestone presents an opportunity for us to celebrate our tremendous achievements and to look towards the future.
After going 0-5 in the “intercollegiate series” against Stanford between 1892-1896, the Golden Bears rebounded dramatically, dominating the series over the next decade. Between 1897-1906 California won eight of the next ten series, winning 18 games while losing 7. 1906 stands out in the annals of the rivalry as the year that saw the lone tie in the series. Having split the first two games, and with the rubber game scheduled for Saturday, April 21, the series was cancelled in the aftermath of the “events of the 18th.” With this phrase the editors of the Blue and Gold, referred to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and fire that leveled San Francisco, three days before the final game. While Cal players staffed public safety crews in the City, Stanford’s student body vacated the Palo Alto campus heavily damaged in the quake.
Did you know?
Orval Overall star pitcher in the Stanford series of 1904 became Cal’s first World Series winner helping the Cubs defeat the Detroit Tigers in 1907. Overall won the third game, giving up only 5 hits in a 6-1 Cubs win. The next year, the Cubs beat Detroit again as Overall pitched a 3-hit shutout (final score 2-0) to clinch the Series win. He appeared in 8 big league seasons (1905-1913), all in the National League (Chicago and Cincinnati) and was a key member of one of the all-time great NL staffs (Cubs 1907-1910).
Overall was the Bears first major leaguer. Three other Bears also played major league ball in these years: Jack Bliss (catcher and former team captain), Joe Smith (catcher), and Bill Heitmuller (OF)
From 1910 to 1950 (inclusive) California Baseball compiled an astonishing .823 winning percentage (649-130-9). Along the way the Golden Bears won 6 outright CIBA titles, enjoyed co-champion honors in 3 other seasons, and capped it all off in1947 by winning the first ever College World Series National Championship event. Six more players “graduated” to the big leagues from these teams, lead by Ralph “Hap” Meyers (1910 -1915), Taylor Douthit (1923-1933), and Sam Chapman in the pre- war years, followed by Jack Albright, Jackie Jensen and Bill Werle post-WWII.
One of the regular season highlights from these years came on Charter Day, 1925, when the Bears squared off against Rogers Hornsby and the St. Louis Cardinals in Memorial Stadium. The Bears lost 8-3, their only loss of the season, but they could take some solace from the fact that the stars for the Cardinals included two former Bears – Taylor Douthit (5 hits including a HR and 3B) and pitcher Lloyd Toomey. Douthit would go on to play 10 years in the Majors and become the Bears second World Series winner with the Cardinals in 1926.
1947 was a season of suspense to the very end. The Bears battled USC for first place in the southern division of the Pacific Coast Conference heading into the final weekend of the season. But a rain out in Berkeley against Stanford, and two Trojan wins against UCLA, meant the Bears would have to beat Stanford in the final conference game to qualify for a one game play-off against USC. Cal beat Stanford then headed south to face USC. Cal defeated USC 5-2, as Jackie Jensen went the distance to notch the win for the Bears, scattering 8 hits, walking 8 and striking out 5. Jensen stranded 15 Trojans on base!
The victory in LA brought the Bears back to Berkeley for a do-or-die series playoff against WSU, the winner the northern section of the PCC. At stake in this best of three series was a trip to the inaugural session of the NCAA Baseball Championship series as the West Coast representative. If the Cougars thought they had left the rain behind them in Pullman, they were wrong. Cal won game one 6-1, called after 6 innings due to rain. Rain interrupted Game 2 as well, forcing a halt to play with the score tied at 4. With no break in the weather on the horizon, and final exams starting in two days for WSU, the Cougars conceded the series and Cal moved on to the CWS by virtue of its game 1 victory.
When the Bears lined up against Yale in the finals of the CWS, they were greeted by their season long companion once again – rain. Despite a 45-minute delay, both teams were sharp, as Cal scored first to go up 2-0. Yale answered with 4 runs and carried a 4-2 led into the 7th. Cal tied it in the 7th and two more runs in the 8th ahead 6-4 heading into the 9th. No one could have foreseen what happened next: 15 Bears batted in the 9th and a close game ended in a 17-4 rout.
In Game 2 the Bears jumped out to a 7-2 lead, but Yale battled back to tie it 7-7 after 6. Cal answered right back with a run in the 7th on some aggressive base running. With two out and runners on first and third, Evans put the runners in motion. The Yale catcher, thinking to get the third out at second, looked to third, then threw to second. The ball skipped through into centerfield and Cal had the run it needed to earn the Championship. Final score Cal 8, Yale 7.
Cal Baseball struggled in the decade following the first CWS Championship, posting sub- .500 records in conference play in 6 of the ten seasons. In 1957, a 12-4 conference record saw the Bears tied for first at the end of the season, and brought Pepperdine to Berkeley for a best of three series, with a trip to Omaha awaiting the winner. The teams split the first two games, Cal taking the first game 4-2, Pepperdine the second, 10-6. Despite the ten runs put up by Pepperdine in game 2, the Bears dominated game 3, winning 10-3. Arriving in Omaha, if their CWS opponents thought the Cal pitching staff could be scored against, they soon learned differently. A trio of Cal pitchers – Doug Weiss, Kim Elliott and George Sterling – led the Bears to 5 straight wins, yielding just 3 earned runs in 45 innings. This ’57 trio still holds the CWS record for lowest ERA 0.60 (minimum 4 games), and fewest earned runs (minimum 4 games).
In 1978, Bob Milano, two-time Bear captain (‘60 and ‘61), took over the coaching reins from the legendary Jackie Jensen. Milano was committed to getting the Bears back in post-season play within 5 years, and two third-place finishes showed there was still work to do. Did he know that by the end of 1980 he would be two years ahead of schedule? With depth and experience at every position, the 1980 squad showed early that it could win. A13-2-1 pre-season record meant the Bears entered league play with high hopes. Four weeks later, however, the Bears were mired at .500. On the positive side of the ledger, the Bears had won the opening game of each series, and had taken 2 of 3 from a tough ASU squad. On the negative side, the Bears had been routed in a couple of games and lost late leads in others. Which way would the season go?
The answer came in the desert in week 6 as Cal swept first place ASU. Playing in Tempe, Cal won the way good teams do: protecting a slim lead in game one (7-5); winning a blow-out in game 2 (6-0); and fashioning a late inning comeback – high-lighted by a 9 run eighth – in game 3 that turned an 8-3 deficit into a 13-8 victory.
Yet nothing was easy for this club. Though the Bears would finish the season tied for first, they lost three of the last four series in conference play. This was good enough, however, to place them into the Pac-10 Championship against WSU, with the winner qualifying for an NCAA berth. Returning to mid-season form, the Bears swept both games. A 5 run first in game 1 got things started off right. In game 2 a two-run third, and an insurance run in the 9th, gave the Bears a 3-1 victory.
In the Midwest Regional in Tulsa, Cal’s hopes of a trip to Omaha for the first time since 1957 took a hit when the Bears dropped into the loser’s bracket after a game 1 loss to UNLV. Playing on the brink of elimination, the Bears ran off 5 straight wins, including a 14-inning nail-biter over Missouri, and two victories over bracket leader UNLV, the last a 12-0 rout, to move on to Omaha.
Playing in Omaha for the first time in 23 years, Cal once again found itself facing elimination after a game 1 loss to Michigan (9-8, in 11 innings). Two facts, however, had emerged in the course of post-season play: Cal’s offense could score against anyone, and the Bear’s liked being the underdog. Cal then reeled off three straight wins, including a 4-3 victory over number 1 ranked Miami, before being eliminated in a 11-10 loss to eventual champion Arizona. Cal finished third in the ’80 CWS, posting an 8-3 record in post-season play.
A late season burst that saw Cal winning 7 of their last 10 games earned the Bears a third-place conference finish, and their third post-season trip in the decade. Playing in the Central Regional in Austin, Cal won 4 straight, and twice knocked off the number 1 ranked Texas Longhorns, to advance to the ’88 CWS. Seeded eighth in Omaha, the Bears drew an all too familiar foe in ASU, the Pac-10 conference champs, in game 1. Cal had split the season series with the Sun Devils, sweeping ASU in Tempe early in the season before dropping 3 in Berkeley in mid-April. Cal lost again in Omaha (4-2) to drop into the loser’s bracket. Two days later, a one run lost to Florida State (6-5) closed out the Bears season.
The 1992 team was the first team in Cal baseball history to make back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Regional play-off round, and became the fifth Bears squad to play in the CWS. With potent hitters in the middle of the line-up, and pitching that steadily built on a strong 1991 performance, the Bears finished in a three-way tie for third, winning 12 of 17 between April 3 and May 3, before dropping all three games of the conference season finale. A third place in the Pac-10 and a 35-28 overall record qualified Cal for the East Regional in Florida as the No. 4 seed. A long cross-country flight was followed by a 15-6 loss to the third seeded Texas A &M Aggies. The Bears must have wondered if they ever would win again as they had now dropped their last five games. A dramatic 4-3 win in 10 innings against the host and No. 1 seed Florida Gators gave the Bears new life. The next day16 runs provided an easy margin of victory over George Mason. A 3-2 win over Georgia Tech set up a rematch of Game 1 against Texas A &M. This time the Bears turned the tables on the Aggies and rolled to an 11-4 victory, and a well-deserved berth in Omaha. Facing the nation’s No. 1 team Miami in their first game the Bears took a 3-0 lead in the 8th before finally losing 4-3 in the 13th. Game 2 against Florida State was an uphill climb all the way, as a 1-0 lead after the 1st had become a 5-1 deficit by the 5th. The Bears went into the 9th down 2 and halved the deficit with a lead-off homer but could get no closer. A 5-4 loss sent Cal home, though some solace could be had in two post-season polls that ranked the Bears 8th and 14th nationally.
Did you know?
Four Bears finished in the top six in batting average in the Pac-10 in 1992: Chris Clapinski (.379), Jon Zuber (.366), Matt Luke (.366) and Troy Penix (.360). All four still rank among the all-time leaders in many offensive categories for the Bears.
Jon Zuber earned a 10 inning complete game victory against Florida in the East Regional and singled in the winning run as well.
Zuber and Penix were named Pac-10 Co-Player of the Year for the ’92 season. Penix hit 22 HR.
Matt Luke led the Pac-10 southern division in hits doubles and triples in ’92.
Despite an initial decision last September to discontinue the Cal baseball program due to pressure on the University’s budget, the 2011 Bears enjoyed their best season in 31 years culminating in a fifth-place finish at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The Bears, under the direction of 2011 National Coach of the Year David Esquer, made school history when it finished 38-23 overall and advanced to NCAA postseason for the third time in the last four years.
Cal captured the Houston Regional with a thrilling, 9-8 victory over Baylor with four runs in the bottom of the ninth, highlighted by Devon Rodriguez’s game-winning two-run single. The Bears then swept through a best-of-three series with Dallas Baptist in the Super Regional, before two of the largest crowds in recent Bear baseball memory, to advance to the College World Series. In the CWS, the Bears dropped a close 4-1 decision to top-seeded Virginia before defeating Texas A&M, 7-3, for its first win in Omaha since 1980. The memorable season came to an end with an 8-1 loss to the Cavaliers June 23.
Two-time Varsity Captain as a player; led Bears team in hitting in 1960 (.357).
Head Coach 1978-1999. All-time leader among Cal coaches with 688 victories. Led Cal to 6 post-season appearances, reaching the CWS three times (1980,1988 and 1992). Compiled a 20-14 record in post-season play; notched a 3rd place CWS finish in 1980.
Olympic team coach in 1988. Elected to American Baseball Coaches of America (ABCA) Hall of Fame in 2010.
Four-year Cal letterman, 1983-86. Four-time all Pac-10 selection. 1985 Sporting News All- American. Career and single season record holder in multiple offensive categories. Career leader in games played, at-bats, runs,walks, stolen bases and game winning RBI. Resides no lower than sixth in 6 other career categories: hits (4th), doubles (4th), triples (tied 5th), home runs (6th), total bases (2nd), strikeouts (6th).
Major League career: 6 years, 1988-1993. Originally drafted in 2nd round in 1985 (Boston) did not sign. Drafted 1986 by Oakland; MLB debut 1988. 462 career games (BA. 222, 9 HR and 92 RBI). World Series participant in 1989 and 1990. World Series Champion with Oakland in 1989.
Head Coach 1930-1954. Career winning percentage of .681 (547-256) ranks first among Cal baseball coaches. Led Golden Bears to first CWS Championship in 1947, going undefeated in 4 play-off games. Won 9 CIBA titles (7 outright, 2 shared.) Was a leading force behind the creation of the College World Series Championship. Also, coached football and basketball at Cal. In 1964 his life-time service to the University was commemorated with the renaming of the baseball facility Evans Diamond in his honor. Since 1954, annual team MVP awarded also given in his honor. Inducted into American Basebal Coaches Association (ABCA) in 1966.
Varsity Captain in1933; Golden Bear Head Coach from 1955 to 1973 with a career winning percentage of .591 (484-335). Led Cal to its second College World Series Championship in 1957, going undefeated (5-0) in tournament play in Omaha. Cal Baseball’s annual Most Improved Player award named in his honor since 1973. Elected to the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Hall of Fame in 1986.