Baseball is a sport of numbers and records. A lot of the records — 56-game hitting streak, 21 strikeouts in a game — very little debate is needed about the validity or how impressive the record is.
Then there are records that while not as well-known or maybe even forgotten are equally impressive in their own way. Alan Fowlkes’ 1980 season with Cal Poly Pomona may not be remembered by the masses 32 years later but what he accomplished that season was something that is unlikely to ever be matched.
In 1980, Fowlkes set NCAA records with 206 innings pitched (he’s the only pitcher in any division to pitch more than 186 innings), 19 complete games, 24 starts and 21 wins.
|Fowlkes’ NCAA Records|
|Wins in a Season||21|
|Number of Starts||24|
“Going into the season, I looked through the NCAA records books and I knew I had a chance to beat some of those records,” said Fowlkes. “I had a goal to be the winningest pitcher in NCAA history.”
While he accomplished his goal with the 21 wins, Fowlkes best accomplishment may be what he did in the 1980 NCAA Regional. In a best-of-five championship against Cal St. Northridge, Fowlkes dealt a complete game in Game 1. The Broncos lost games two and three and were on the brink of elimination going into the fourth game.
Two days after pitching a complete game in Game 1, Fowlkes took the ball for game four to try to tie the series.
“I pitched six innings and we got a big lead so Coach Scolinos moved me to first base, just in case,” said Fowlkes. “It was the only time in college that I ever played in the field.”
Fowlkes was not needed again in Game 4, but much to the dismay of Cal St. Northridge, Scolinos sent Fowlkes to the bullpen to warm up before the start of Game 5.
“I think we played Northridge nine times that season and I beat them in five of those games,” said Fowlkes. “When I started warming up in the bullpen, you could just see their team drop their heads.”
Fowlkes pitched another complete game and Cal Poly Pomona won 15-1. “I think I struck out the side in the ninth,” remembers Fowlkes.
After the regional, Fowlkes dealt two complete games, got two wins and was named to the all-tournament team at the NCAA Division II Finals. To cap it off, Cal Poly Pomona won the national championship with four consecutive wins in the finals.
“What I really remember about that season is that it was just a magical season for all of us — coaches and players,” said Fowlkes. “We won 42 games that season and a lot of those wins were against the top teams in Division I.
After his collegiate playing days, Fowlkes spent 10 years in professional baseball, reaching baseball’s highest level with the San Francisco Giants in 1982. He started 15 big-league games and had one complete game for the ’82 Giants.
“College baseball was an amazing experience for me,” said Fowlkes. “I’m very grateful that Coach Scolinos gave me an opportunity to play college baseball and he had such a great influence on me, not only as a player but as a person.”