Idaho Vandals baseball

The Idaho Vandals baseball team was the varsity intercollegiate baseball team of the University of Idaho, located in Moscow, Idaho.

Idaho Vandals baseball
Founded1900 [1][2]
Defunct1980 (May)[3]
UniversityUniversity of Idaho
Head coachJohn G. Smith (1967–1980)
ConferenceNorthern Pacific (1975–1980)
Big Sky (1964–1974)
Pacific Coast / Northern Division (1923–1964)
LocationMoscow, Idaho
Home stadiumGuy Wicks Field (1967–1980)
MacLean Field (192x–1966)
NicknameVandals
ColorsSilver and Vandal Gold[4]
         
NCAA Tournament appearances
1966, 1967, 1969
Conference champions
Big Sky: 1964, 1966, 1967, 1969

Varsity baseball was played at Idaho through the 1980 season,[3] primarily in the northern division of the Pacific Coast Conference. During the first six years of the Big Sky Conference, the Vandals won four titles under two head coaches, Wayne Anderson (1964, 1966)[5] and John G. Smith (1967, 1969).[6][7][8]

The 1966 and 1969 teams advanced to within one round of the College World Series, falling in the District 7 finals, today's "Super-Regionals" (Sweet 16).

1960sEdit

1964Edit

In the first year of the Big Sky Conference, Idaho went undefeated in conference play,[9] and swept the title series with Weber State, played in Missoula, Montana.[10] For a final season, the Vandals also played in the five-team Northern Division (of the defunct PCC),[11] but were 5–11 in league games and finished last.[9][12][13] During the final weekend of the season, Idaho upset Palouse neighbor Washington State in Pullman to eliminate the Cougars from title contention as Oregon took a two-game lead to clinch;[14][15] WSU won the next day in Moscow.[12][13]

Idaho was 8–2 in non-conference games for an overall record of 23–13 (.639).[9] As a first-year league in 1964, the Big Sky champion was not invited to the NCAA playoffs. That summer, Oregon and Oregon State joined the AAWU (Pac-8) and Idaho's league play forward was in the Big Sky only.

1966Edit

Led by senior pitcher Bill Stoneman with a 0.45 ERA, Idaho advanced to the NCAA postseason for the first time with a 31–7 regular season record. They traveled to Greeley and eliminated Colorado State College (now Northern Colorado)[16] and Air Force,[17][18] but then fell at Tucson to Arizona.[19][20] The 34–9 (.791) overall record remains the best in school history, and the team was inducted into the Vandal Hall of Fame in 2012.[21]

In addition to Stoneman, the Vandal pitching staff included future major leaguer Frank Reberger of Caldwell; both signed with the Chicago Cubs' organization after the season. As a major leaguer, Stoneman threw two no-hitters for the Montreal Expos, in 1969 and 1972.

It was Wayne Anderson's ninth and final season as head coach, and he was baseball coach of the year in the Big Sky.[5] He was promoted to head coach of the basketball team in September and stepped away from baseball.[22][23]

1967Edit

After two seasons as defensive line coach for the football team, John G. Smith became the head coach for baseball in November 1966.[24][25][26] With a new home field, the 1967 team repeated as Big Sky champions at 7–1,[27][28] and a 21–7–1 (.741) record for the regular season, hampered by weather.[29][30] Idaho lost in the first round of the NCAA playoffs at Colorado Springs to Air Force.[29][31][32] Smith was the conference coach of the year.[29]

1969Edit

The 1969 team finished the regular season at 30–7 and 10–2 in the Big Sky.[33] Idaho swept two from Air Force at home in Moscow to advance,[34] then lost on the road in the District 7 finals at Mesa to host Arizona State,[35][36][37] the eventual CWS champion.

1970sEdit

The Big Sky expanded to eight teams in the summer of 1970, all with baseball, and split into two divisions for the 1971 season with a three-game playoff to determine the champion.[38][39] The two Montana schools soon dropped the sport and Boise State was moved to the Northern Division with Idaho and Gonzaga for 1973.[40] In May 1974, the Big Sky announced its discontinued sponsorship of baseball (and four other sports).[41][42] Southern division champion Idaho State dropped their team weeks later,[43] and three-time conference champion Weber State followed. The three Northern division schools (Idaho, Boise State, Gonzaga) joined the new Northern Pacific Conference (NorPac) for the 1975 season. (The NorPac included the larger baseball programs in the Northwest outside of the Pac-8, including Portland State, Portland, Seattle U., Puget Sound, and later, Eastern Washington.)

Ken Schrom of Grangeville was selected in the tenth round of the 1973 MLB Draft as a high school senior, but opted for college. Also a quarterback for the football team, he pitched for the Vandals for three seasons until selected in the 1976 draft following his junior year. (An injury to his non-throwing (left) shoulder during the previous football season influenced his decision to leave school early.)

1980Edit

After six seasons in the NorPac, both Idaho and Boise State discontinued baseball as a varsity sport 40 years ago, following the 1980 season, citing budget constraints.[3] (BSU's program returned four decades later, in 2020.)

An assistant coach in football and basketball for the Vandals, Smith was the head baseball coach for the final fourteen seasons (1967–1980), then continued in the UI athletic department as equipment manager for the next seven years.[6][7][8] When John L. Smith (b.1948) arrived on campus as an assistant football coach in 1982, both began using their middle initial to avoid confusion.

The last varsity game with neighbor Washington State was a home win on April 30, 1980, which was the first over the Cougars in thirteen years, breaking a losing streak of over forty games (with two ties) dating back to 1967.[44][45] The final games for the program were less than two weeks later, two doubleheaders against Puget Sound: the Vandals swept on Friday,[46] and were washed out on Saturday.[47]

Club sportEdit

Baseball resurfaced on campus as a club sport in 1984.[48][49][50][51]

VenuesEdit

MacLean FieldEdit

Idaho's ballpark from the early 1920s through 1966 was MacLean Field, just west of the Administration Building. Its infield was originally located in the southwest corner of the multi-sport venue, with Memorial Gymnasium as a backdrop in left field and the running track's west stretch in center and right field. After Neale Stadium opened for football in autumn 1937, home plate was moved to the opposite northeast corner of MacLean (46°43′34″N 117°00′46″W / 46.726°N 117.0129°W / 46.726; -117.0129) for the 1940 season, with the former football grandstand on the east berm along the third base line.[52][53] The southern portion of the permanent football seating, adjacent to left field,[54] was excess capacity for baseball and was removed during World War II.[55]

The new southwestern alignment (home plate to center field) had abundant foul territory, especially along the third base line;[53] track and field continued at MacLean until after the war, and this area was occupied by various field events. Other than a backstop, there was little foul territory fencing, except to protect a parking lot to the right;[56] it also went without dugouts, as the teams sat on open benches.[56][57] Later seasons employed a low temporary outfield fence, and new tennis courts in right field with perimeter chain-link fencing provided a higher permanent barrier; until 1955, the tennis courts were at the site of the library. The distance down the left field line in 1959 was 315 feet (96 m).[58]

The old southwest infield became the site of the multi-purpose field house (1949–75) in deep right center field.[59][60] It was razed after the enclosure of the Kibbie Dome in 1975 and was soon occupied by additional outdoor tennis courts; the trees that were along its east wall continue to stand. The swim center and P.E. building (women's gym), opened in 1970, are in the MacLean outfield, from right to center field. Left field continues today as open grass; its backdrop was the Shattuck Arboretum to the south and the berm between them provided elevated grass seating.[58]

Guy Wicks FieldEdit

After the 1966 season, construction of the new College of Education building began behind home plate,[61][62] and a new baseball field was built at the northwest area of campus, just south of Paradise Creek (and Pullman Road) (46°43′54″N 117°01′10″W / 46.7316°N 117.0195°W / 46.7316; -117.0195).[60] Aligned southeast with above-ground dugouts and a modest concrete grandstand, it opened as "University Field" in April 1967,[63][64][65][66][67] and was named for late alumnus Guy Wicks, a two-sport head coach and university administrator, during the 1969 postseason.[68][69] It was also without permanent fencing, and used a low temporary one in the outfield; the backdrop in left center was the six-story Wallace dormitory.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Moscow baseballists arrive". Daily Democrat-Messenger. (Missoula, Montana). June 4, 1901. p. 1.
  2. ^ "Montana beaten by three to one". Daily Democrat-Messenger. (Missoula, Montana). June 5, 1901. p. 1.
  3. ^ a b c Goodwin, Dale (May 13, 1980). "Baseball's 'out' at Idaho". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 19.
  4. ^ "University of Idaho Color Identity". January 31, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Anderson named Big Sky league coach of the year". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). June 3, 1966. p. 17.
  6. ^ a b Goodwin, Dale (May 3, 1979). "Smith has Idaho baseball winning again". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 31.
  7. ^ a b Pierce, Oliver (February 17, 1987). "Retired...but not retiring". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 6.
  8. ^ a b Meehan, Jim (June 12, 1998). "Colorful ex-Idaho coach dies". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C7.
  9. ^ a b c "Baseball: 1964 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1964. p. 277.
  10. ^ "Vandals defeat Weber for title". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. May 17, 1964. p. 12.
  11. ^ "Idaho Vandals to compete in two baseball leagues". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). December 9, 1963. p. 7.
  12. ^ a b "Cougars grab diamond win". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). May 25, 1964.
  13. ^ a b Harvey, Paul, III (May 24, 1964). "Oregon State clips Oregon". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 3B.
  14. ^ "Idaho beats Cougars as Oregon gets title". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). May 23, 1964. p. 8.
  15. ^ Harvey, Paul, III (May 23, 1964). "Ducks clinch ND title". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 1E.
  16. ^ "Luce's homers gives Vandals playoff victory". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. May 28, 1966. p. 8.
  17. ^ "Vandals win NCAA playoff on sweep from Air Force". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. May 29, 1966. p. 8.
  18. ^ "Arizonans next on Idaho list in bid for nationals". Tri-City Herald. June 2, 1966. p. 19.
  19. ^ "Arizona downs Idaho 3-2, Vandals victims of one-hitter". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). June 4, 1966. p. 8.
  20. ^ "Arizona Wildcats defeat Vandals". Lewiston Morning Tribune. {Idaho). June 5, 1966. p. 10.
  21. ^ "1966 baseball team". University of Idaho Athletics. (Hall of Fame). 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  22. ^ "Idaho hoop pick due; Anderson seen choice". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). September 8, 1966. p. 25.
  23. ^ "Idaho picks hoop coach". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). September 10, 1966. p. 11.
  24. ^ "Vandals football assistant to be named baseball coach". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). November 20, 1966. p. 2, sports.
  25. ^ "John Smith gets Idaho job". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). November 24, 1966. p. 18.
  26. ^ "John Smith lands new coaching job". Idaho Argonaut. (Moscow). (University of Idaho). November 29, 1966. p. 6.
  27. ^ "Idaho's king of Big Sky". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). May 22, 1967. p. 11.
  28. ^ "Vandals take Big Sky title". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). May 22, 1967. p. 14.
  29. ^ a b c "Baseball: 1967 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1967. p. 251.
  30. ^ "Unearned run decided dedication ball game". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). May 24, 1967. p. 39.
  31. ^ "Vandals face hard hitters". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). May 28, 1967. p. 7, sports.
  32. ^ "Cadets blast Idaho in regionals sweep". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. May 29, 1967. p. 11.
  33. ^ "Idaho wins Sky baseball championship with doubleheader sweep over Bobcats". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). May 20, 1969. p. 13.
  34. ^ "Vandals to face tough ASU nine". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). May 26, 1969. p. 13.
  35. ^ "Vandals Arizona-bound". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). May 29, 1969. p. 13.
  36. ^ "Vandals seeks to rebound". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). May 31, 1969. p. 11.
  37. ^ "ASU ekes out 3-2 win over Idaho". Spokesman Review. (Spokane, Washington). June 1, 1969. p. 2-sports.
  38. ^ "Big Sky baseball: split loop planned". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). May 19, 1970. p. 13.
  39. ^ "Vandals list baseball play". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). January 28, 1971. p. 22.
  40. ^ "Key games: Big Sky Conference". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). April 23, 1973. p. 17.
  41. ^ "Idaho off probation, loop titles dwindle". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). May 5, 1974. p. 13.
  42. ^ "Baseball axed in Big Sky". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). May 29, 1974. p. 15.
  43. ^ "Idaho (State) drops baseball". Ellensburg Daily Record. (Washington). June 5, 1974. p. 9.
  44. ^ "Vandals sack Washington State 13-4". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). May 1, 1980. p. 1C.
  45. ^ "Vandals' Wulff blast downs WSU 13-4". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). May 1, 1980. p. 26.
  46. ^ "Is it Vandals' swan song today?". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). May 10, 1980. p. 3C.
  47. ^ "Put the blame on rain". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). May 11, 1980. p. 3D.
  48. ^ "Baseball returns". Argonaut. (Moscow, Idaho). (University of Idaho). January 10, 1984. p. 22.
  49. ^ "Baseball". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1984. p. 220.
  50. ^ "Baseball". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1985. p. 98.
  51. ^ "Baseball". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1986. p. 168.
  52. ^ "Baseball: 1940 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1941. p. 308.
  53. ^ a b "Title page (aerial photo)". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1943. p. 2.
  54. ^ "Baseball: 1942 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1943. p. 264.
  55. ^ "Baseball: 1945 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1946. p. 215.
  56. ^ a b "Baseball: 1963 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1963. p. 261.
  57. ^ "Baseball: 1966 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1966. p. 202.
  58. ^ a b "Baseball: 1959 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1959. p. 210.
  59. ^ "Baseball: 1957 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1957. p. 261.
  60. ^ a b "Residences (campus aerial photo)". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1967. p. 268.
  61. ^ "Old makes way for new". Idaho Argonaut. (Moscow). (University of Idaho). September 13, 1966. p. 3.
  62. ^ "Education Building, Construction. [139–10]". University of Idaho Library. (Digital Initiatives). March 1968. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  63. ^ "Baseballers open home-competition today: new field to be dedicated first". Idaho Argonaut. (Moscow). (University of Idaho). April 11, 1967. p. 6.
  64. ^ "Dedication brightened by Vandal victory". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). April 12, 1967. p. 13.
  65. ^ "Zags, Idaho win". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). April 12, 1967. p. 34.
  66. ^ "Idaho Vandals defeat EWSC 11-5". Idaho Argonaut. (Moscow). (University of Idaho). April 14, 1967. p. 6.
  67. ^ "Baseball: 1967 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1967. p. 252.
  68. ^ "Field named". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). May 24, 1969. p. 11.
  69. ^ "Idaho shades Air Force in opener". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). May 24, 1969. p. 15.