Ultimate College World Series Baseball Lineup: Top 10 players ever
Since 1950, the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., has welcomed the best teams, featuring the most talented players in the nation.
Sluggers who landed in professional baseball’s Hall of Fame first made noise clearing the fences at Rosenblatt Stadium, where the eight-team tournament was held until 2011 when it moved to spacious TD Ameritrade Park.
Pitchers who later became fixtures in the Major League playoffs first appeared in the exciting double-elimination tournament that begins again June 13th.
So many stars have stepped into the batter’s box and onto the pitcher’s mound that choosing an all-time team is a demanding, yet fun, task.
To select a dream team of nine position players and a designated hitter, we focused on those who had the best combination of a strong CWS appearance backed up by a lengthy MLB career. There were multiple options at every spot. Enjoy.
1B - Will Clark, Mississippi State | CWS appearance: 1985
He and teammate Rafael Palmeiro led the Bulldogs to victories in their first two CWS games in 1985 before they were eliminated in a 6-5 loss to Miami. Clark earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team, capping a season in which he batted .420 and hit 25 home runs. From Starkville, “Will the Thrill” went on to a 15-year major league career primarily with San Francisco and Texas. He made six All-Star game appearances and finished with a .303 career batting average.
2B - Bob Horner, Arizona State | CWS appearances: 1976, 1977, 1978
Although he later moved across the infield to play third base, during the 1977 season Horner and his loose mop of blonde curls were stationed at second. At the plate, he terrorized opposing pitchers, batting .444 with two home runs and nine RBI as the Sun Devils won the national championship with a 2-1 defeat of South Carolina. Horner was named Most Outstanding Player of the CWS and followed that up by earning National League Rookie of the Year honors for the Atlanta Braves. He played 10 years in the majors, belting 218 home runs.
SS - Nomar Garciaparra, Georgia Tech | CWS appearance: 1994
The Yellow Jackets’ first CWS appearance ended with a 13-5 loss to Oklahoma in the title game, but that did not detract from Garciaparra’s excellent individual effort. He hit a pinch-hit home run and was named to the All-Tournament team, finishing the season with a .427 batting average, 16 home runs, 73 RBI and 33 stolen bases. Of course Garciaparra was a infield cornerstone for the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers during a 14 year major league career. The 1997 American League Rookie of the Year and six-time All-Star, he had a .313 career batting average and hit 229 home runs.
3B - Robin Ventura, Oklahoma State | CWS appearances: 1986, 1987
After making the CWS All-Tournament team in 1986, Ventura entered the 1987 tournament riding a Division I record 58-game hitting streak. But it ended against the arm of Jack McDowell, a starter for Stanford and later Ventura’s teammate with the Chicago White Sox. Still, Ventura batted .469 and .428 in his first two seasons in Stillwater. And he played 16 seasons in the major league, driving in 1,182 runs, making two All-Star games and winning six Gold Gloves.
OF - Dave Winfield, Minnesota | CWS appearances: 1973
Widely considered the greatest to ever play in Omaha, the question is what couldn’t the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Golden Gopher do on an athletic field? Drafted by professional teams in football, basketball and baseball, Winfield earned his way to Cooperstown with his hitting and defense but in Omaha overpowered opponents with his pitching. He struck out 29 batters in two appearances on the mound, batted .363 in four games and was selected as Most Outstanding Player in spite of the Gophers’ loss in the final. Winfield was a 12-time major league All-Star who hit 465 home runs and won seven Gold Gloves.
OF - Fred Lynn, Southern California | CWS appearances: 1971, 1972, 1973
Before he became the first player to win the American League’s Rookie of the Year and MVP award in the same year, Lynn helped the Trojans take three consecutive national championships. He made the All-Tournament team in 1971 and during his college career batted .320 with 28 home runs and 111 RBI - all with a wood bat. A nine-time AL All-Star, he was a solid all-around outfielder for Boston and California hitting 306 home runs and winning four Gold Gloves.
OF - Barry Bonds, Arizona State | CWS appearances: 1983, 1984
The best slugger in professional baseball history wasn’t an easy out during his days with the Sun Devils. The team failed to reach the championship game in both years, but Bonds made the CWS All-Tournament team in each appearance and set a tournament record by getting a hit in seven consecutive at-bats. In 1984 at ASU, Bonds stroked 11 home runs and stole 30 bases. But everyone knows he put up statistics usually seen only on a video game when he played for Pittsburgh and San Francisco in the major leagues - 762 home runs, 2558 walks and 1,996 RBI.
C - Landon Powell, South Carolina | CWS appearances: 2002, 2003, 2004
The sturdy backstop was the Gamecocks’ backbone during their run that was remarkable yet failed to produce a national title. Powell made the All-Tournament team in 2002 when USC lost to Texas in the final and again in 2004 when Cal State-Fullerton bounced the Gamecocks out of the bracket. The Oakland A’s drafted Powell in the first round in 2004, but his major league career consisted of only 123 games over three seasons (2009-11).
DH - Pete Incaviglia, Oklahoma State | CWS appearances: 1983, 1984, 1985
The mustachioed masher was a one-man onslaught who made aluminum sing during his three years in Stillwater. He earned a spot on the CWS All-Tournament Team in 1983 and 1984, and it’s understandable if he didn’t see many good pitches during the 1985 CWS after a season where he batted .464 with 48 home runs and 143 RBI! The Cowboys came up dry in their title quest and Incaviglia spent 12 seasons playing for more than a half-dozen big league teams, finishing with 206 HRs and 655 RBI.
P - Roger Clemens, Texas | CWS appearances: 1982, 1983
Clemens is the only player on this team who did not make a CWS All-Tournament team, however he was the winning pitcher in the ‘83 title game, a 4-3 decision over Alabama. He also played a pivotal role on the Longhorns march to Omaha, compiling a 25-7 record on the mound during those two seasons. All he did from there was spend 24 years in the major leagues, win 354 games, earn seven Cy Young Awards and one MVP trophy.
Coach - Rod Dedeaux, Southern California
Candidates would fight, beg and stand in line to fill out this lineup card. Dedeaux gets the nod because he led the Trojans to 10 national titles between 1951 and 1978, including five in a row to start the 1970s.