Monday, July 5, 2010

College baseball honors century of success

Inducts 10-member Hall of Fame class from different eras

By Steve Gartner /
07/02/10 1:17 AM ET

LUBBOCK, Texas -- College baseball's all-time winningest pitcher, the first College World Series Most Outstanding Player and Baseball America's National Community College Coach of the Century were among those inducted into college baseball's 2010 Hall of Fame Class.

The ceremony held Thursday at the United Spirit Arena gave an 11-member class a chance to remember their college careers and thank those who influenced them.

"For the people that are on stage this evening, this is truly baseball heaven," former Texas pitcher and inductee Richard Wortham said. "We've finally been recognized for the things that we have hopefully accomplished in our careers."

Each member of the 2010 class was given a portrait that depicted them during their careers, an induction ring and a Texan belt buckle.

Although 10 players were in the 2010 class, former Wichita State pitcher Darren Dreifort was also honored because he couldn't attend last year's induction. Dreifort played for the Shockers from 1990 to '93 and won the Golden Spikes Award for college baseball's best amateur player his final season.

"I'm truly grateful to the College Baseball Hall of Fame for inducting me," Dreifort said. "I couldn't think of a better honor."

Dreifort was one of two former Wichita State players honored. Don Heinkel, who pitched for the Shockers from '79 to '82, has the most wins in college baseball history with 52. Dreifort and Heinkel become the third and fourth Wichita State players to be inducted. Former Wichita State coach Gene Stevenson said Heinkel's maturity on the mound stood out the most.

"He was tremendously consistent," Stevenson said. "He had tremendous ability to focus on what he needed to do next."

Before Heinkel set college baseball's record for most victories, Wortham owned it with 50 wins. He pitched for Texas from '73 to '76 and led his team to a College World Series title in '75.

"He pitched really the game of his life," former teammate Mark Griffin said. "He was a big-game pitcher."

Arizona State also added to its Hall of Fame player total with the induction of former shortstop Alan Bannister -- the sixth Arizona State player inducted. He almost signed with the California Angels out of high school, but thought college would be better for his career. He didn't regret that decision and played with the Sun Devils from '70 to '73.

"The path I chose was fabulous," Bannister said.

Former Louisiana State first baseman Eddy Furniss echoed Bannister's sentiments on the importance of college baseball in shaping his life. Furniss played with LSU from '95 to '98 and won the '98 Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball's Most Outstanding Player.

"I never had aspirations to be a Hall of Famer or an All-American," Furniss said. "I just wanted to be the best you could be."

Former Alabama third baseman Dave Magadan was another former Player of the Year, winning the Golden Spikes Award in '83. Magadan was the top voter-getter in the 2010 class and serves as the Red Sox hitting coach. He said his career took off when he was inserted into the lineup his freshman year because of an injury to a teammate.

"I couldn't have done it without my teammates," Magadan said.

Former North Carolina catcher B.J. Surhoff never got the chance to play in a College World Series like many of his fellow inductees did, but he put together an impressive career in Chapel Hill, which culminated with him winning the '85 ACC Athlete of the Year. He will always look back fondly on his college career as the best time of his life.

"None of the relationships I had in pro ball come close to what they were in college, Surhoff said.

Former Michigan player George Sisler has passed away, but grandson Peter Drochelman honored his legacy by speaking for Sisler. While at Michigan in the early 1900s, Sisler impressed his teammates with his ability to strike batters out, once striking out 20 of 21 batters faced in a game. Although stats were not kept in his time, he reportedly lost only one game in his career.

"One of the things that was impressive about him was he never told any stories about himself," Drochelman said of his grandfather.

Inductee and former Wake Forest second baseman Charles Teague also has passed away, but associate director of development in the Wake Forest athletic department Mike Buddie spoke on Teague's behalf. Teague played for the Demon Deacons from 1946-50 and was the first Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series.

"Charlie physically was always the smallest guy on the field," Buddie said. "But what he lacked in size he made up for in hustle and ability."

Players weren't the only ones honored, either. Former Fresno State coach Bob Bennett and Cerritos College coach Wally Kincaid were also inducted.

Bennett posted more than 1,300 wins and had 26 consecutive winning seasons for a career that spanned from 1977 to 2002.

Kinkaid was named the National Community College Coach of the Century by Baseball America in 2000 and had a .806 winning percentage at Cerritos. Both coaches left their marks on their programs.

"He is undoubtedly the greatest coach in junior-college baseball history in any state," Texas coach Augie Garrido said of Kinkaid.

While Omaha is home to the College World Series, all of the inductees agreed that Lubbock, which is home to the College Baseball Hall of Fame, has an important place in college baseball history.

"This is what history is all about," Wortham said. "Hopefully we'll be able to do those little things right."

Steve Gartner is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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