Eleven elected to College Baseball Hall of Fame
Jim Abbott forced others to look beyond his disability by pitching his way past all the doubts and skepticism.
|Players||Jim Abbott (Michigan), Pete Incaviglia (Oklahoma State), Fred Lynn (USC), John Olerud (Washington State), Phil Stephenson (Wichita State), Derek Tatsuno (Hawaii)|
|Coaches||Jim Brock (Arizona State), Chuck "Bobo" Brayton (Washington State), Bibb Falk (Texas), Jerry Kindall (Arizona), Dick Siebert (Minnesota)|
Despite being born without a right hand, Abbott became an outstanding athlete, an inspiration to everyone who watched him -- and now, a Hall of Famer.
The former major-leaguer and University of Michigan star was among 11 former players and coaches elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
"I'm floored," Abbott said in a telephone interview. "I'm just really thrilled and honored because I think going to the University of Michigan and playing college baseball was one of the great accomplishments of my life.
"When I was playing, I always tried to be more than just 'the one-handed pitcher.' I wanted to move past those labels. I tell other kids that they can, too. I tell them that they can be born in a certain circumstance, but that doesn't define you," he said.
Other former players elected include: Derek Tatsuno (Hawaii), Pete Incaviglia (Oklahoma State), Fred Lynn (Southern California), John Olerud (Washington State) and Phil Stephenson (Wichita State).
The late Jim Brock, who led Arizona State to two College World Series titles and coached Barry Bonds in college, was among five former coaches elected. Chuck "Bobo" Brayton (Washington State), the late Bibb Falk (Texas), Jerry Kindall (Arizona) and the late Dick Siebert (Minnesota) will also be honored during a three-day celebration in Lubbock, Texas -- the future site of the hall -- on July 2-4.
The 11 were selected from a list of 50 nominees by an 90-member committee consisting of previous Hall of Fame inductees, current and retired head coaches, former players, NCAA commissioners, sports information directors and media.
"When I contacted our second class, it was definitely something they're proud to be associated with," said John Askins, chairman and CEO of the College Baseball Foundation, which established the hall.
Four pre-1947 selections elected in January -- Christy Mathewson (Bucknell), Lou Gehrig (Columbia) and players-turned-coaches Joe Sewell (Alabama) and John "Jack" Barry (Holy Cross) -- will also be inducted in July.
Last year's inaugural class included Dave Winfield, Rod Dedeaux, Robin Ventura, Skip Bertman, Will Clark and Ron Fraser.
Abbott went 26-8 for the Wolverines from 1986-88 and was the Golden Spikes Award winner as college baseball's player of the year in 1987. He also won the Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the nation that year, the first baseball player nominated for the award.
Also that summer, Abbott went 8-1 with a 1.70 ERA for gold medal-winning Team USA and gained international attention by becoming the first American pitcher to beat the Cuban team in Cuba in 25 years.
"I always felt like I had something to prove," said Abbott, who works as a motivational speaker. "I was born missing my right hand, but I was also given a lot of ability in my left hand. I was always out to prove that I could compete with others on the same playing field."
He was drafted No. 8 overall by California in 1988 and joined the Angels' starting rotation without going to the minors. Abbott won 87 games in 11 major-league seasons, including a no-hitter against Cleveland in 1993 while pitching for the New York Yankees.
Tatsuno led the nation in strikeouts in all three of his seasons at Hawaii (1977-79) and was the first 20-game winner in NCAA history in 1979, when he went 20-1 with a 1.86 ERA and had a record 234 strikeouts.
Incaviglia was perhaps the most imposing power hitter in college baseball history, setting the NCAA career records for home runs (100) and slugging percentage (.915) from 1983-85. In 1985, he set NCAA single-season records for home runs (48), RBIs (143), total bases (285) and slugging percentage (1.140) -- all marks that still stand.
Like Abbott, he jumped directly from college to the majors, hitting 206 homers in 12 seasons.
Lynn batted .320 with 28 home runs and 111 RBIs and helped USC win three consecutive College World Series from 1971-73. He went on to become the American League MVP and rookie of the year in 1975, a nine-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the All-Star Game MVP in 1983, when he hit the first grand slam in the Midsummer Classic.
Olerud was one of the most dominant two-way players in NCAA history, hitting .434 with 33 homers and 131 RBIs and going 26-4 with a 3.17 ERA from 1987-89. In 1988, he was the player of the year after hitting .464 with 23 homers and 81 RBIs, and going 15-0 with a 2.49 ERA.
Stephenson, who played at Wichita State from 1979-82, was the NCAA player of the year in 1982 and still holds NCAA records for career hits (418), runs (420), total bases (730), stolen bases (206) and walks (300).
Brock coached the Sun Devils to national championships in 1977 and 1981. He led Arizona State to 13 College World Series appearances and was a five-time Pac-10 coach of the year.
Brayton retired after the 1994 season as the fourth-winningest coach in Division I history with 1,161 victories. He's recognized for championing several rule changes to make college baseball safer and more popular.
Falk played three seasons at Texas and replaced Shoeless Joe Jackson in left field for the Chicago White Sox in 1920. He returned as the Longhorns' coach in 1942 and helped lead them to their first two national titles in 1949 and '50.
Kindall, who helped Minnesota win the 1956 College World Series, coached the Gophers briefly before making his name as Arizona's coach. He led the Wildcats to three national championships (1976, '80 and '86).
Siebert went 754-360-8 in 31 years as Minnesota's coach and is one of five coaches to win three College World Series titles (1956, '60 and '64).
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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