The crack of the bat, freshly mowed grass, Cracker Jack in hand, attempting to avoid being splashed by the enormous beer clutched by the inebriated fan sitting behind you. Baseball, the official pastime of the United States, epitomizes summer. Baseball’s popularity in the United States stems, at least in part, from its long history and the game’s overall continuity over time—it’s plausible that your great-great-grandfather could follow a modern game if he were magically plopped into the stands. On July 1, 1859, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Amherst College beat William College 73-32 in the first college baseball game. There have been almost as many iconic college baseball players in the 162 years since that game as there were runs scored. Baseball players.
Here is a list of some of the top college baseball players. The game itself calls for great hitters that are famous for their hits, some even for their pitches. Enjoy reading this list while you find out why these players are the best in the game.
1. Barry Bonds, Arizona State
Barry Bonds was a fantastic college baseball player for Arizona State before the 762 home runs, seven MVPs, “The Clear,” and his enormous head. Bonds hit .347 in three years at the University of Michigan, with 45 home runs and 175 RBI. He flirted with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases during his sophomore season, a much more daunting task in college when an average season lasts only 75 games. Bonds was selected to the Sporting News All-American team as a sophomore and the All-Time College World Series team in 1996. Bonds was drafted sixth overall in the 1985 MLB draught by the Pittsburgh Pirates, becoming a full-time professional by 1986, and went on to have one of the most impressive and contentious careers in baseball history.
2. Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State
Many people consider Joe Dimaggio’s 56-game hitting streak to be the most remarkable in sports history. Robin Ventura, while as a sophomore at Oklahoma State, went two higher with a 58-game run. That year, he hit .428 with 21 home runs and 110 RBIs. These are incredible figures. But it was almost a letdown for a guy who had hit .469 as a true freshman with 21 homers and 96 RBIs! In his junior year of 1988, he hit .391, hit .26, and hit .96, earning him the Dick Howser Award and the Golden Spikes Award as the best player in the nation. He helped the United States win a gold medal in the 1988 Olympics that year. The White Sox drafted Ventura with the tenth selection in the 1988 draught, and he went on to have a long and fruitful career, hitting 1885 times and hitting 294 home runs. He is now the White Sox’s manager. Ventura was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2006.
3. Reggie Jackson, Arizona State
Reggie Jackson was Mr College Baseball until he was Mr October. And he was almost none of those things when he attended Arizona State University on a football scholarship. When Jackson enrolled in Phoenix, freshmen were ineligible for varsity athletics, and by sophomore year, he had been told he would be playing defensive back on the football team, rather than his favourite position of halfback. So he dropped out of football and signed on to the baseball team, where he immediately set the ASU single-season home run record. He became the first college player to drive a ball out of Phoenix Municipal Stadium in the process. Jackson was selected second overall in the 1966 Major League Baseball draught by the Kansas Royals. “The straw that stirred the drink” went on to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the best power hitter of his time.
4. Dave Winfield, University of Minnesota
Dave Winfield’s Major League Baseball career concluded with 3110 hits, 465 home runs, and a first-ballot Hall of Fame induction. He was best known as a pitcher — and a basketball player — during his college days at the University of Minnesota. As an outfielder, the two-sport standout led the Gopher baseball team to the College World Series semi-finals his senior year, posting a 9-1 record, 2.74 ERA, and.385 average with eight home runs and 33 RBI. The San Diego Padres selected Winfield with the fourth overall selection in the 1973 draft. The Atlanta Hawks of the NBA, the Utah Stars of the ABA, and the Minnesota Vikings all took a chance on Winfield in the NFL draft, although he had never played a single down of football in college. With too many options, Winfield was able to sign a deal with the Padres that allowed him to return to the major leagues immediately. Despite his lack of minor-league experience, Winfield hit .273 in his rookie season and then continued to improve.
5. Lou Gehrig, Columbia University
Though Lou Gehrig was a legendary high school baseball player in New York City, he reportedly attended Columbia University on a football scholarship. It wasn’t long before they started playing hardball with him as well. While college statistics from the 1920s are difficult to come by, we do know that as a pitcher, Gehrig once struck out 17 batters in a game. We all know that he had a history of smashing tape measure home runs out of Columbia’s South Field and onto the streets of New York, which earned him a Yankees contract and made him an Ivy League dropout. In addition, he was one of the first players in his generation to play organized college baseball. As a result, it’s reasonable to assume that the Iron Horse, in addition to being one of the greatest hitters of all time, was perhaps one of the greatest college baseball players of all time.
6. Pete Incaviglia, Oklahoma State
Pete Incaviglia is most often remembered as fun but imperfect major league player. Inky spent 12 years in the majors, hitting 206 home runs and wearing out left-handed pitchers. However, he was an outfield adventure who hardly hit righties and struck out a lot. Incaviglia, on the other hand, was a fantastic college baseball player, arguably one of the greatest to ever swing an aluminium bat. Incaviglia hit 100 home runs and had a .915 slugging percentage in three years at Oklahoma State, all school records. With 48 home runs, 143 RBIs, and a 1.140 slugging percentage in a single season, his 1985 season was one to remember. Keep in mind that college teams average between 70 and 80 games each year. Incaviglia, who was highly recruited coming out of high school, led Oklahoma State to the College World Series in three of his four years on campus before being selected by the Montreal Expos with the eighth overall selection in the 1985 draft. He was voted Collegiate Player of the Century by Baseball America and is a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
7. Bob Horner, Arizona State
Bob Horner set an NCAA record of 56 home runs during his three-year tenure at Arizona State as a hard-hitting college second baseman. In 1977, he set a single-season record of 25 home runs, and he was named the College World Series MVP that year. Horner’s college prestige was such that after drafting him with the first selection in the 1978 draught, the Atlanta Braves rushed him to the Major Leagues. He repaid their faith by hitting 23 home runs in 89 games and earning Rookie of the Year in the National League. Before breaking his wrist in 1983, Horner was one of baseball’s most prolific hitters. At the age of 30, he retired from baseball after the 1988 season. Horner was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 2006 and is a member of Baseball America’s All-Time College Baseball Team.
8. Ben Mcdonald, LSU
Ben McDonald, who stood 6’7 inches tall, was a baseball and basketball player for LSU. Big Ben, on the other hand, was a success on the diamond, guiding the Tigers to two College World Series championships during his three years on campus. McDonald also led Team USA to the 1988 Olympic Gold Medal in Seoul, South Korea, with a mid-90s fastball and lethal curve. He also had a junior year in which he set the SEC record for strikeouts in a season with 202 and was named the Golden Spikes Award winner for college baseball’s best player. The Baltimore Orioles had no idea who they would choose with the first overall selection in the 1989 draft, and McDonald honoured them with a brilliant rookie season in 1990. McDonald’s strikes were never as easy in the big leagues, and arm problems caused him to retire after nine years. He completed his career with a 78-71 record and a 3.91 earned run average.
9. John Olerud, Washington State
John Olerud was a batting champion in the Major Leagues who also played a smooth first base and wore a helmet in the field. He was a two-way player in college, hitting and pitching at a high pace. Olerud batted.414 as a rookie at Washington State and went 8-2 with a 3.00 ERA on the mound. He hit .464 with 21 home runs and 81 RBIs as a sophomore while pitching a 15-0 record with a 2.49 ERA and earning the National Player of the Year award. During his sophomore and junior years, Olerud suffered a terrifying brain aneurysm, which is why he still wore a helmet like a pro. He returned for the second half of his junior year and put up respectable numbers, but health problems caused him to be selected in the third round of the 1989 draught by Toronto. In 1993, he repaid the Blue Jays’ confidence in him by leading them to the World Series. Since 2010, the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award has been presented to College Baseball’s top hitter/pitcher.
10. Greg Swindell, University of Texas
Roger Clemens is the first name that springs to mind when you think of great Texas Longhorn pitchers from the 1980s. Although The Rocket was a dominant force in Austin during his time there, it was left-hander Greg Swindell, who came after him, who had a better college career. Swindell had a 43-8 record and a 1.92 ERA in four years in college baseball. He finished 32 of the 50 games he began. Swindell was voted Baseball America’s player of the year in 1985 after posting a 19-2 record with a 1.67 ERA and 204 strikeouts. The Cleveland Indians picked him with the second overall pick in the 1986 draught. As a 23-year-old in 1988, Swindell had early success in the major leagues, winning 18 games and making the All-Star roster. The season, however, turned out to be the best of his professional career. Swindell’s career numbers of 123-122 with a 3.87 ERA are respectable, but without his stellar college pedigree, they must be considered a disappointment.