National College Baseball Hall of Fame inducts 2022 Class
OMAHA, Nebraska — After spending the last two years holding its Night of Champions celebration virtually, the College Baseball Foundation presented in person its 2022 event, including the induction of the 2022 class of the National College Baseball Hall of Fame while also honoring the best of the best from the 2022 season.
The event was held Friday in the Mecca of college baseball each season, Omaha, Neb., thanks to the efforts of Planit Omaha and the College Baseball Foundation, sponsored by local entities Colliers, Scoular, the Schrager family, the College World Series of Omaha, Five Points Bank and Union Pacific. The Night of Champions events for 2020 and 2021 were held virtually.
“To be back in person for this event after so long is just great,” said Mike Gustafson, president & CEO of the College Baseball Foundation and one of the hosts for the evening. “For our first in-person event after the two virtual events to be hosted in Omaha just makes sense. So many of our inductees over the years have accomplished tremendous things in this city and it’s wonderful to finally connect our event with the home of the College World Series.”
The 2022 National College Baseball Hall of Fame class is headlined by one of only two coaches to lead two different teams to the national championship and one of the most decorated HBCU players in recent history. Former Pepperdine, Florida and Arizona head coach Andy Lopez, who finished his career with 1,177 victories, and former Southern University standout infielder Rickie Weeks, the consensus college baseball player of the year in 2003, highlight the 15th class for the Hall of Fame.
Also included in the 2022 class are former Brown infielder and 1974 Sporting News College Baseball Player of the Year Bill Almon; Weeks’ Southern University head coach Roger Cador; former Michigan All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year Casey Close; two-time NAIA National Championship coach Ken Dugan of Lipscomb; eight-time College World Series umpire Jim Garman; Condredge Holloway, the first African-American member of the University of Tennessee baseball program; Southern California All-American and Mount San Antonio head coach Art Mazmanian; and 1988 NCAA Division III Player of the Year Ken Ritter from North Central College.
Ritter is one of the more decorated college baseball players in the Midwest at any level. The 1988 NCAA Division III Player of the Year for the American Baseball Coaches Association, Ritter was a three-time All-American at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, hitting a Division III record .577 in 1988, but his career numbers are just as impressive. He holds three College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) career records and nine North Central career records for batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs, hits, triples, home runs, total bases and runs batted in. Playing for North Central, Ritter helped his teams to three CCIW championships and was part of the team that made the 1987 D-III College World Series.
Ritter said that 1988 hitting record was the culmination of years of hard work.
“I was getting bigger and stronger every year,” he said. “I learned the game and my opponents. They were very careful around me, but when they made a mistake, they paid for it. It was about adjustments and learning the game.”
Ritter also spoke about how playing in a summer league against players from Division I and Division II schools improved his game.
“I went 1-for-32 to start the season,” he said. “By the end of the season, I was second in home runs. I missed it by one. It’s about adjustments and learning the game. It made me a better player through the years.”
Holloway was a two-sport trailblazer at the University of Tennessee. In addition to being the first African-American member of the Volunteers’ baseball program, Holloway also holds the distinction of being the first African-American quarterback in Southeastern Conference football history, earning the nickname “Artful Dodger.” He finished his baseball career with a .353 batting average and holds the school record with a 27-game hitting streak. As a senior in 1975, he earned All-SEC and All-America honors at shortstop and is a member of Tennessee’s All-Century Baseball Team.
During the event, Holloway spoke about how he ended up at Tennessee even though he was drafted out of high school by the Montreal Expos.
“I had a mom who was very smart,” he said. “She realized that the baseball career would end, and trying to get a college degree at age 25, 22, that’s hard. She wasn’t going to let me not go to college.”
And as for why he eventually chose baseball over football, he said he did what he loved.
“It was what I enjoyed,” he said. “My father was a baseball player and he really coached me. I just liked it better. Anybody that says they like football better than baseball means they like getting hit better than hitting the ball. I have trouble believing them.”
Dugan compiled a 1,137-460 record in 37 seasons (1960-1996), leading Lipscomb University on the diamond He guided the team to two NAIA national championships in 1977 and 1979, and his 1984 squad won a then-school-record 34 straight games. In addition to the two NAIA titles, Dugan led Lipscomb to eight NAIA World Series appearances after a standout career as a player at the university, where he set school record for batting average (.456) and slugging percentage (.824) over the course of four seasons (1954-57).
Although Dugan died in 2000, his family was in attendance in his honor at the Night of Champions.
Almon left Brown University as the holder of 13 of the school’s 19 game, season or career records. As a freshman he hit .536 in leading Brown to a 10-2 record. He earned All-Ivy and All Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League honors as a sophomore (1973) and junior (1974), hitting .350 with 10 home runs, 31 RBI and 20 stolen bases to also earn Sporting News College Baseball Player of the Year honors. He was selected No. 1 overall by the San Diego Padres in the 1974 draft and spent 15 years in professional baseball. He is still the only Ivy League athlete ever to be drafted first overall in one of the four major professional sports’ drafts.
When speaking about his recollections on that 1974 draft, Almon remembered he was preparing to go to the Cape Cod League when he received a phone call from a local sportswriter informing him about his draft selection.
“I was quite surprised that happened, especially being from New England,” he said. “My father was big on insurance policies; That’s why he sent me to Brown. We thought I was pretty good, but he said you never know how good you really are.”
Almon played only 39 games in the minor leagues before being called up to the majors, something he said was part of his negotiations with the Padres.
“I knew that I really wanted to experience a big-league opportunity as quickly as I could,” he said. “So, we decided that was a great way to experience it, to see what it’s really like and set a foundation for an eventual long career.”
Garman made eight appearances in the Division I College World Series (1987, 1988, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2011) in 40 years as an umpire in the Pac-12, Big 12, Big West and Western Athletic Conference. He also worked a whopping 34 Division I Regionals and 15 Division I Super Regionals while serving as the Western Regional Coordinator for the National Umpire Improvement Program. Outside of college baseball, Garman worked the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, the 1988 Junior World Championships, the 1990 World Championships and five years in professional baseball (1977-81).
Garman joked with the crowd he wasn’t used to getting such a positive, boisterous welcome when in Omaha. During his time on stage, he also spoke about his background growing up in California and how he got his start as an umpire.
“My dad was a Lutheran minister, and back in those days church sports leagues were big time,” Garman said. “He ran a couple of softball leagues and one night his umpire called in sick and he was flustered, and I said, ‘How much you paying?’ — I was in like eighth grade — and he said, ‘6 bucks’ and I said ‘I’m your man!’”
That early start eventually translated into a long, successful umpiring career at the collegiate level, including working the College World Series at both Rosenblatt Stadium and TD Ameritrade Park.
“Rosenblatt was a very special place,” he said. “Many in the room share that feeling for Rosenblatt, but TD Ameritrade was like “Wow.” I felt really honored to be the first crew chief to open that up.”
Garman also pointed out that he worked CWS games in four decades — twice in the 1980s, twice in the ‘90s, three times in the 2000s and once in 2011.
Close is one of the most decorated players in University of Michigan history, especially in his senior season in 1986 when he named the Baseball America College Player of the Year, an All-America by the American Baseball Coaches Association, Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America, and the Big Ten Player of the Year. The outfielder finished 1986 as the Big Ten triple crown winner in conference games, hitting .469 with seven home runs and 19 RBI. He also played on the Wolverines’ 1983 and 1984 College World Series teams and was a part of three Big Ten title teams (1983, 1984, 1986). He finished the 1986 season with a .440 batting average, third best in school history, and had a career .373 average.
Despite his impressive collegiate numbers during his collegiate career, Close chose Michigan because he wanted to be a two-way player, and many schools that recruited him only wanted him to be a pitcher.
“In Omaha my freshman year, we were playing Stanford and that was one of the schools who told me I wasn’t going to be able to hit,” Close said. “That’s when the opportunity came up to hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.”
Close now joins his freshman-year roommate, Barry Larkin, in the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.
“We were paired up as 18-year-old kids coming to Michigan,” Close said. “(Our team) was a great group of guys. Not just talented players but great human beings. Just the camaraderie, the intensity, the drive and I felt like we played in one of these golden eras of college baseball where I think we won almost 200 games during our four years and got (to Omaha) twice and it was just a really great experience.”
Today, Close works as an agent, representing some huge names in professional baseball.
“I didn’t set out to come into the business of sports management,” Close said. “A lot of hard work, perseverance and most importantly to just be able to relate to players. I’ve been through it and understood the trials and tribulations of pro baseball and the ups and downs both as a pitcher and as a hitter and just carried that forward. I was very, very lucky to work with so many good young players and great young people.”
Mazmanian is a decorated player and coach, helping lead Southern California to the 1948 national championship, and after six seasons in the New York Yankees organization, led Mount San Antonio College for 31 seasons. As a player he was a second-team All-American in 1949 and had six hits in the 1948 title game. At Mt. SAC, he compiled 730 victories and had just two losing seasons in his entire time at the college. He sent 120 players into professional baseball. Mazmanian also managed 17 summers in the minor leagues and as an assistant coach under Hall of Famer Rod Dedeaux (Hall of Fame Class of 2006) on the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team.
Mazmanian died in 2019. His family was in attendance at the Night of Champions and current USC head coach Andy Stankiewicz sent a video tribute to Mazmanian’s legacy at USC and baseball history.
Weeks put together two of the most outstanding consecutive seasons by any player in NCAA history. The second baseman led the nation in hitting in both 2002 (.495) and 2003 (.479) for Roger Cador’s Southern squad. In his final season in 2003, he hit 16 home runs and drove in 66 RBI while averaging 1.61 runs per game. The year before, he scored 63 runs, hit a Southern record 20 home runs and drove in 96. He notched Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year and consensus All-America honors in each of his last two campaigns. He helped lead Southern to a nation’s best winning percentage (.863) and 44-7 record in 2003.
Weeks spoke about receiving zero scholarship offers out of high school and why he chose to attend Southern and play for fellow inductee Cador.
“I think it goes unsaid what he’s done for my career and in my life,” Weeks said. “I think he was the first one to instill confidence in me. I graduated (high school) when I was 17 and I grew up a lot, and he was right there for it.”
Weeks said he was grateful he was able to play college baseball and have the college experience because that’s when he figured out who he was as a person and as a baseball player.
“The biggest thing I learned was to be myself,” he said. “Those four years of high school I was somebody else and a lot of times, coaching staffs and evaluators I think put restraints on guys, and when you can go be yourself, you can flourish at the right time and in the right moments.”
Cador compiled a 913-597-1 record in 33 seasons (1984-2017) guiding the Southern University Jaguars, building one of the most successful Historically Black College/University (HBCU) programs in the nation. In his time at Southern, the Jaguars captured two HBCU national championships in 2003 and 2005, 14 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships and made 11 NCAA tournament appearances, including the first win in an NCAA Regional by an HBCU program. He is a 13-time SWAC Coach of the Year, producing 10 All-Americans and 62 drafted players. Cador played for Southern from 1970 to 1973 and is a member of the SWAC Hall of Fame and Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Cador made an impression on the crowd coming to the stage to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way,” a song he said exemplifies how he coached.
“I had to go against the grain because it was difficult to get people to buy into baseball at Southern because it’s a football school,” Cador said. “I had to do it my way because I didn’t get the kind of support I wanted.”
Cador is part of the same class as one of his star players — Weeks — and Cador credited much of his success to the young men who played for him.
“I had good players,” he said. “Any coach would tell you that their success is based on having good players. Anybody who would tell you anything else, they don’t know what they’re talking about. I recruited good players. I want to give a shout-out to the parents, the mothers in particular. They were the ones who trusted me with their most valuable possessions. They knew I would try my very best to do what I promised, and I did. These kids, a lot of them came from the inner cities, where life had really given up on many of them. We brought (the players) in and gave them hope and gave them a blueprint they could follow and enjoy success.”
Cador said that’s what people at Southern did for him as a player and it was something he wanted to do for the young men he coached.
“It was easy because I never forgot how difficult it was for me,” he said. “The people at Southern held my hand and great things happened based on that.”
Lopez is one of the most successful college baseball coaches in the game’s history, compiling a 1,177-742-7 record in three stops between Pepperdine, Florida and Arizona. He is one of only three coaches to lead three different programs to the College World Series and one of only two coaches – Augie Garrido (Hall of Fame Class of 2016) the other – to win the national championship with two different teams, Pepperdine in 1992 and Arizona in 2012. In all, he led his teams to five College World Series appearances and guided them to the postseason in 17 of his 26 seasons in the dugout. He is a three-time National Coach of the Year (1992, 1996 and 2012) and a nine-time conference Coach of the Year.
Lopez talked about winning the first CWS title with Pepperdine.
“I was 37 years of age (in 1992) and Pepperdine is 3,000 students, no football program, and is the smallest school that’s ever won the thing,” he said. “They were special, and they believed in who they were.”
He also reflected on how much things have changed during his college career, noting that when he won the first title his two sons were very young and when he won in 2012 with Arizona, they were on the roster playing for him.
“In 2012, in the fifth inning of the second game against UCLA, I look up the bench and there’s two guys with beards and it’s Michael and David Lopez,” he said. “Here I am in 2012 and my sons are in the program. That was pretty special.”
Overall, Lopez said he was blessed throughout his entire career.
“I was blessed with an unbelievable coaching staff, guys that worked their tails off to bring in good players,” he said. “I was really smart when we had good players. My assistant coaches, every guy that worked for me was a fantastic assistant coach and some of them are head coaches now. We went into every program and set a standard and that standard was Omaha.”
The Night of Champions event also honored the 2022 winners of the awards presented each year by the College Baseball Foundation: the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year, the Pitcher of the Year, the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year and the Skip Bertman Coach of the Year Award.
Brooks Lee from Cal-Poly was recognized as the 2022 Brooks Wallace Award winner for his outstanding season with the Mustangs. The junior put together back-to-back Big West Conference Field Player of the Year-caliber seasons for his hometown college and also put together an impressive set of numbers that made him the eighth overall pick in the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft by the Minnesota Twins. Lee hit .357 with 15 home runs and 55 RBI in leading the Mustangs to a second-place finish in the Big West. He also was strong in the field, finishing with a .951 fielding percentage while turning 25 double plays.
Oregon State standout Cooper Hjerpe won the 2022 Pitcher of the Year Award and added his name to the long list of All-American pitchers who have toed the rubber for Oregon State University at Goss Stadium. The sophomore left-hander was the ace of the Beavers’ staff by compiling an 11-2 record and 2.53 ERA with a school-record 161 strikeouts, becoming the second pitcher from Oregon State to win the Pitcher of the Year Award. He was named to the All-Pac-12 first team as well as a Collegiate Baseball first-team All-American and a finalist for both the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy.
The John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award went to Paul Skenes, a right-handed pitcher and slugger, helped the United States Air Force Academy put together one of their best seasons in school history, ending in the school’s first Mountain West Conference title as well as its first berth in the NCAA tournament since 1969. A two-time All-American, Skenes played in 52 games, starting 51, and hit .314 with 13 home runs and 38 RBI while compiling a 1.046 OPS. He also committed just two errors on the season. On the mound, he served as the Falcons’ Friday starter, going 10-3 with a 2.73 ERA. In 15 starts he struck out 96 and walked just 30 in 85.2 innings while holding opponents to a .224 batting average.
Skip Bertman Award winner Brian Hamm and Eastern Connecticut State University captured the NCAA Division III championship with an impressive 49-3 record. Hamm has a history of leading tradition-rich programs to the pinnacle of the sport and did so again with the Warriors. Under his tutelage, the Warriors won 27 of their final 28 games to end the regular season and finished the season on a 23-game winning streak, setting a school record for single-season wins and winning percentage. Eastern Connecticut also led the country in team ERA at 2.91 and, overall, allowed just 3.33 runs per game on the season.
For more information about the Night of Champions event, the National College Baseball Hall of Fame or the awards, visit the College Baseball Foundation’s website.