College Hall inducts seven, honors 2011's best

Groat, Francona among those inducted in Lubbock

July 4th, 2011

2011 Night of Champions ceremony

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Dick Groat isn't convinced he belonged on stage Sunday night with the 2011 class of National College Baseball Hall of Fame inductees.

"I was a better basketball player," said Groat, a two-time basketball All-American at Duke. "I don't know if I deserve this, but I'm just thrilled to death to be inducted."

Groat may have sold himself a little short. He led Duke to its first College World Series in 1952 and was a two-time American Baseball Coaches Association all-American.

He was one of seven to be inducted during the College Baseball Night of Champions at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Also honored Sunday night were the top college baseball players of the 2011 season.

Groat turned into a pretty good Major Leaguer, too. He won a batting title and the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1960, and was part of two World Series teams, the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1964 St. Louis Cardinals.

But some of his fondest memories came during his college days, particularly the 1952 Southern Conference tournament.

"We had to win three games in one day," Groat said of Duke's victories against George Washington and two against North Carolina State. "We ended up going to the NCAA [tournament] and then we won our division, went out to Omaha, Neb., and I was the luckiest guy in the world."

Groat has spent the last 32 years broadcasting University of Pittsburgh men's basketball. In the process, he said, he's encouraged students to attend and stay in college.

"Being a professional basketball or baseball player is a great life, and I'd be the first to tell you that," Groat said. "But the law of averages is against you. Nobody can ever take that diploma from you. Once you get it you're a college graduate the rest of your life, and it's something special."

Also inducted was Oddibe McDowell, an outfielder at Arizona State from 1983-84. He was a career .380 hitter with 30 home runs and 31 doubles. He hit .405 as a senior and earned the Golden Spikes Award for Player of the Year.

McDowell, a two-time all-American, played for 2007 National College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Jim Brock.

"I was blessed with the talent, and it was a privilege to play," McDowell said. "There are so many guys that think they can play, try to play, but don't get the opportunity. In that regard it's a privilege, and to have the awards, for me, recognizes all the people I played with and against."

The last player to be inducted Sunday night was Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, an outfielder at Arizona from 1978-80.

Francona was the 1980 National Player of the Year and Golden Spikes Award winner. He led the Pac-10 in hits, RBIs and doubles in 1979 and 1980 and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1980 College World Series.

Also inducted were Danny Goodwin, a Southern University catcher from 1972-75; Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, coach of Grambling State from 1926-77; Tim Wallach, first baseman at Cal State Fullerton from 1978-79 and current third-base coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers; and Bill Wilhelm, Clemson's coach from 1958-1993.

The night concluded with the presentation of the Dick Howser Trophy to Texas pitcher Taylor Jungmann. The honor is given annually to the national college player of the year.

Jungmann, who was selected 12th overall by Milwaukee in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, went 13-3 with a 1.60 ERA as a junior.

He pitched 141 innings and struck out 126 batters against just 36 walks.

"It's a little surreal," Jungmann said. "It's a tremendous honor to be here."

James Madison's Jake Lowery was awarded the Johnny Bench Catcher of the Year award after batting .359 with 24 home runs and 91 RBIs in 2011. He had a .994 fielding percentage with just three errors in 477 chances.

Lowery drew a laugh from the audience when he described the reason he became a catcher as a little kid.

"Everyone was getting a position," Lowery said, "and I wanted to be the catcher because I got more gear than everybody."

Lowery was drafted by Cleveland in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Other award winners included Virginia's Danny Hultzen, the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year; UCLA's Trevor Bauer, Pitcher of the Year; Texas' Corey Knebel, Stopper of the Year; and Clemson's Brad Miller, the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year.

Dick Runchey became the first umpire to be honored by the College Baseball Foundation on Sunday night, earning the inaugural National Collegiate Umpire Award.

Runchey called five College World Series and is the only umpire to work four national championships behind home plate.

"It's a shock, unbelievable," Runchey said of the award. "I have a passion for the game and for umpiring. And being able to represent all the umpires who have ever worked college baseball is an extreme honor."