FROM COLLEGE BASEBALL FOUNDATION
LUBBOCK, Texas – The College Baseball Foundation announced today the names of the 10 players and coaches comprising the 2009 National College Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Class.
“This is an exciting day for the Hall of Fame every year,” said Mike Gustafson, co-chair of the Hall of Fame and member of the CBF Board of Trustees. “It’s another remarkable class.”
Among the 2009 Hall of Fame class is one Vintage-Era inductee and the first “small school” inductee.
Branch Rickey, player and coach from Ohio Wesleyan and Michigan is the Vintage-Era inductee. The Vintage-Era designation is for those who played or coached prior to 1947.
The University of St. Francis head coach Gordie Gillespie is the small-school inductee. His career at Lewis University and St. Francis has seen him become the winningest coach in college baseball history. The “small school” designation is for two and four-year schools other than NCAA Division I.
“We are delighted to finally recognize the ‘small school’ category of college baseball,” Gustafson said. “Coach Gillespie was the overwhelming choice of our voting committee.”
Gillespie, who has coached for more than five decades, said he is thrilled to be a part of the 2009 College Baseball Hall of Fame Class.
“I can’t tell you how excited and overwhelmed I am to receive this tremendous honor,” he said. “To be going in with such a select group of colege players … as well as my dear friend Ron Polk, who is one of the most brilliant minds in college baseball, is unbelievable.”
The remaining members of the 2009 Hall of Fame class are Joe Carter, outfielder, Wichita State; Darren Dreifort, pitcher/DH, Wichita State; Kirk Dressendorfer, pitcher, Texas; Barry Larkin, shortstop, Michigan; Keith Moreland, catcher/utility, Texas; Rafael Palmeiro, outfielder, Mississippi State; Ron Polk, coach, Georgia Southern, Mississippi State, Georgia; and Todd Walker, second baseman, Louisiana State.
Joe Carter, who played at Wichita State from 1979 to 1981, was named National Player of the Year by Sporting News in 1981. A two-time first-team All-American, he was twice named MVP of the Missouri Valley Conference and three times named to the All-MVC team. In 2007, he was the top vote-getter when the MVC chose its All-Centennial baseball team.
Darren Dreifort led Wichita State to consecutive College World Series appearances from 1991 to 1993, including appearances in both the 1991 and 1993 final games. The winner of Golden Spikes and Smith Awards in 1993, he was a two-time first-team All-American and All-MVC performer. He was the 1993 MVC Pitcher of the Year and in 2007 he was named to the MVC All-Centennial team as both a designated hitter and relief pitcher.
Kirk Dressendorfer, who pitched at Texas from 1988 to 1990, was a three-time first team All-American, making him one of only 11 in history to be so honored. His 45 wins made him one of the most decorated players in Southwest Conference history as he won three SWC MVP awards and three All-SWC team honors. He also was named to three All-SWC Postseason Tournament Teams.
“Going into the College Baseball Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor,” Dressendorfer said. “I truly feel blessed for having been given the ability and support to join such an elite group of baseball players.”
Gordie Gillespie represents the new “small school” category. He is the first non-Division I inductee and also the first active head coach inductee. He remains active at the University of St. Francis (IL) at age 82 and his 1,783 wins entering the 2009 campaign make him college baseball’s all-time winningest coach.
“In my 57 years of baseball coaching, I haven’t changed my enthusiasm one bit,” Gillespie said. “To see the kids doing what they do, they plays that they make, is a real thrill. Every day is a World Series to me. There’s nothing else like it.”
Michigan’s Barry Larkin was a two-time first-team All-American shortstop. He was the first two-time Big Ten Player of the Year and in 1983 he was the Big Ten Postseason Tournament MVP. He twice led the Wolverines to the College World Series and finished his career with a .361 batting average.
Keith Moreland was a three-time first-team All-Southwest Conference performer as a third baseman at the University of Texas, and twice named first-team All-American (1973, 1975). He helped lead the Longhorns to three consecutive Southwest Conference crowns, three straight NCAA Regional/District titles, a trio of College World Series appearances and the 1975 National Championship. His teams went a combined 160-21 in his three seasons.
Mississippi State’s Rafael Palmeiro, along with Dressendorfer, was one of only 11 players in history to be named first-team All-American three times. He was twice named All-Southeastern Conference and was an SEC All-Tournament Team selection in 1983. In 1984, he was the SEC’s first triple crown winner with a .415 batting average, 29 home runs and 94 RBIs.
Ron Polk is one of only three coaches to lead three different schools to the College World Series – Georgia Southern, Mississippi State and the University of Georgia. He concluded his 35-year career as a head coach last spring with a career record of 1,373-700-2 (.662). His teams made eight College World Series appearances, won five SEC championships and made 23 Regional appearances.
Perhaps best known for signing Jackie Robinson to a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey was named the most influential figure of the 20th century in sports by ESPN. He played his first two seasons at Ohio Wesleyan before signing a professional contract, whereupon he assumed the head coaching duties. While playing for the St. Louis Browns, he coached baseball and football at Allegheny College. Upon completion of his playing career, he began studies at the University of Michigan Law School. He served double-duty in Ann Arbor as the Wolverines baseball coach, where his most famous pupil was Hall of Famer George Sisler. A Hall of Famer himself, he later embarked on a career as a major league manager and executive and is credited with creating the concept of farm systems as well as the batting helmet.
Todd Walker played second base at LSU from 1992 to 1994 and was a two-time first-team All-American. Arguably the greatest position player in the annals of LSU baseball, he was named All-SEC three times and in 1993 was named Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series for the National Champion Tigers. He also was named to the Omaha World-Herald All-Time College World Series Team.
Hall of Fame inductees are chosen based on the votes of more than 110 representatives from coast to coast. Voters include retired and active coaches, media members and previous inductees.
To be eligible for the College Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, players must have completed one year of competition at a two-year institution in the CCCAA or NJCAA or a four-year NCAA (Division I, II or III) or NAIA institution. Ballot-eligible coaches must have retired or be active and no less than 75 years old.
“This class is not short on household names in college baseball,” said Jeff Chase, co-chair of the Hall of Fame and a member of the CBF Board. “Last year’s group was dominated by pitchers, but this year the position players have taken over. We can’t wait for the induction festivities in early July.”
The 2009 inductees will be honored on July 3 as part of the College Baseball Foundation’s annual celebration of both the past and present of college baseball from July 2 through July 4 in Lubbock.
For more information about the 2009 National College Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Class or the Hall of Fame events, contact Dr. Mike Gustafson at [email protected] or Jeff Chase at [email protected]