Past and present
- Jason Vondersmith
- Portland Tribune - Sports
Joe Gerber, 1B, 1997-2000
In 1998, the Beavers went 35-14-1, sweeping Arizona and UCLA, but were snubbed by the NCAA selection committee.
'We had good teams, but we couldn't get past Washington,' Gerber says. 'We had the pitching in 1998 with Andrew Checketts, Mark Newell, Chris Pine, B.R. Cook and Matt Bailie, but Newell got hurt. … Had we been healthy, it would have been a different story.
'If you have pitching in college baseball, you have a chance to win. Anybody can hit with the metal bats. (This year's Beavs) had pitching depth; they didn't have anybody besides (Cole) Gillespie smashing the ball, and it just goes to show if you have the pitching you can make it happen.'
Jeff Doyle, 2B-SS, 1975-77
'Pitching is about 80 percent of the game, and they trotted guys out there I hadn't heard of. It was amazing. This reminds me of a professional team, how deep they were. It was a team of no weaknesses. That's a deep team. I mean, last year Ryan Gipson played ahead of (second baseman) Chris Kunda. That's what we didn't have back then: depth.'
Scott Anderson, P, 1981-84
From 1970 to 1998, OSU played in the Pac-10 Northern Division, making five playoff appearances and going 2-9. In 1982-83, the Beavs went 0-4, with three losses to Stanford.
'The Northwest has always had good talent,' Anderson says, 'but people didn't recognize it. Now (the Pac-10) is one conference and Northwest players can more consistently evaluate their talents against southern players, and they realize they're on an even playing field. Going to Stanford, (for us) there was always the intimidation factor.
'Clearly, Pat Casey's done a great job - they're exceptional, athletically, top to bottom. It seems like they're all 6-1 and 205 with speed. In our day, we had three, four or five of those guys and role players. And the separating factor (for the '06 Beavs) was experience; they came in more prepared for the College World Series and less wide-eyed.'
Mike Gorman, P, 1979-82
'Pretty awesome, huh? It's still hard to get my arms around it: OSU, national champions.
'Our goal was always to get to the postseason and finally in 1982 we did and Stanford laid it to us pretty good. Back then, it was baby steps, we were just trying to get through to the playoffs. It was too far to reach to think about getting to Omaha. What a change now. The unified conference (in 1999) just elevated everything, put more emphasis on the program. And they caught lightning in a bottle with those three pitchers (Dallas Buck, Jonah Nickerson, Kevin Gunderson).'
Bryan Ganter, OF, 1984-87
Before 2005, the Beavers had made the postseason previously in 1986, going 2-2 (beating Richmond and Arkansas). In 1985-86, OSU went a combined 73-32.
'Talent-wise, we were on par with teams (in the playoffs),' Ganter says. 'One of the biggest differences was depth of pitching. You need several pitchers, and we didn't have it. We had enough offense and players like Ken Bowen, Mel Mallinak and Dave Brundage. But the last game against Stanford (10-7 loss in 1986) we just ran out of gas with the arms.
'(The CWS) was always in the back of our mind. We were ranked both years. But we knew everything had to go our way and we had to have pitching - which we didn't.'
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, 2003-05
Last year, OSU broke through and made the College World Series, after winning the first of two Pac-10 titles, mainly because of an attitude change.
'Instead of settling for third in the Pac-10, we said, 'Hey, we're going to win it,' ' Ellsbury says. 'So Coach Casey coached us like we were going to win the Pac-10 title. It was a different mind-set and attitude. That's everything. It's a mental game.
'(This year), it was time for me to leave, I always wanted to play pro ball. I'm on the next step of my career, but I still feel close to those guys, and I'm very proud of them. To compete at this level, the experience of getting there and knowing what to expect was huge. Hopefully we built something, and they can stay there. If I'm a kid from Oregon, and OSU won the national title and two Pac-10 titles, who would I want to play for? A couple of years ago that might not have been somebody's mentality.'
Jim Wilson, 1B-OF, 1980-82
'Pitching and defense. They played old-fashioned ball against their opponents, and it made a difference. They were average - B-minus - hitting, but they played good baseball. I played pro ball for 13 years and I've been coaching since I've been out, and I've never seen a team like this; their defense was incredible. (Shea) McFeely at third and (Chris) Kunda at second are major league (quality) defensive players.
'They're at the point where they can reload the program. They'll still lose guys to the sun, but there are enough guys who want to win championships in their home state. They can handpick guys. I bet they're in a regional next year, top four in the Pac-10. They went through a couple years where they were left out (1997 and '98), but now they may be on the other side of it.'
Mike Thurman, P, 1992-94
In 1994, OSU (35-16, 22-8) won the Pac-10 North, but because of WSU's ineligibility, the league didn't get an automatic playoff berth. Washington got an at-large.
'We always didn't get the respect we deserved,' Thurman says.
'Physically, this year's team has better athletes, across the board. Mentally, they know they can play at this level. Back then there was an element of doubt.'
Dave Brundage, OF-P, 1984-86
Managing Triple-A Tacoma, which was playing in Las Vegas, Brundage caught only bits and pieces of Monday's championship game.
'But ESPN replayed it later, and I bellied up to the bar and watched the whole game.'
- Jason Vondersmith