Winfield returns to the CWS for first time since 1973
OMAHA, Neb. -- Hall of Famer Dave Winfield made his first visit to Rosenblatt Stadium on Saturday since he was selected the College World Series Most Outstanding Player while playing for Minnesota in 1973.
"It's a totally different perspective than as a player," Winfield said. "We came here (in 1973), we were serious, we were focused, we were separated from everybody."
This time, Winfield said, he was able to walk around the crowd and soak up some of the CWS atmosphere.
During the 1973 CWS, Winfield, considered one of the greatest two-way players ever in the series, pitched in two games -- a 14-strikeout performance in a 1-0 win over Oklahoma and a 15-strikeout outing in an 8-7 loss to eventual national champion Southern Cal. He also hit .467 with a homer and two RBI for the Gophers.
In the USC game, Winfield gave up four hits, with just two of those coming in the first eight innings. He did, however, walk nine Trojans. Winfield left in the ninth with Minnesota leading 7-0, and USC went on to score eight runs to get the win.
The increased media coverage and larger crowds make the modern-day CWS a drastically different event than when he played in Omaha, Winfield said.
"We weren't televised nationally back then," Winfield said.
Winfield, a 12-time All Star who won seven Gold Gloves, was taken by the San Diego Padres as the fourth pick in the 1973 draft. He played for six teams, including the 1992 World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays, and was selected to the Hall of Fame in 2001.
Atlantic Coast Conference rivals Clemson and North Carolina waited to get to Omaha to have their first meeting of the season.
The teams will play Sunday night after both won first-round games on Friday. Clemson scored eight runs in the eighth inning to beat Georgia Tech 8-4. The Tar Heels outlasted Cal State Fullerton, winning 7-5 in 13 innings.
"I knew we'd play Clemson at some point this year," North Carolina coach Mike Fox said. "I just had a sneaking suspicion."
Clemson finished 1-2 in the ACC in the regular season. Clemson won the conference tournament; the Tar Heels lost consecutive games to North Carolina State and Florida State.
The top-seeded Tigers stayed at home and swept through regional and super regional play. The Tar Heels were home for the regionals and then swept Alabama in Tuscaloosa to move on to Omaha.
"It's going to be a terrific challenge for us to hang in there with them," Fox said.
North Carolina's Fox has joined a club that includes Georgia's David Perno, Clemson's Jack Leggett and Cal State Fullerton's George Horton as those who have participated in the CWS as both a player and a head coach.
Fox was on UNC's 1978 CWS team. Perno was a member of Georgia's 1990 national title team, Horton played on Fullerton's first CWS team in 1975 and Leggett was on Maine's 1976 CWS qualifier.
North Carolina, with its win over Fullerton on Friday night, reached 51 victories to tie the school record. With nine strikeouts against Georgia, Eddie Degerman became Rice's single-season strikeout leader. He has 167 strikeouts, which tops the previous record of 164 set by Wade Townsend in 2003. Fullerton's two home runs in its loss to North Carolina on Friday topped the Titans' homer total from their 2004 CWS championship run. . With a 6-4 win over Georgia on Saturday, Rice improved to 42-1 this season when scoring six or more runs.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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