California to drop baseball
Golden Bears to play final season in 2011
By Phil Stanton and Sean Ryan
California sent shock waves through the college
baseball world with the surprising announcement Tuesday that it
was dropping baseball after the 2011 season. The Golden Bears
have fielded a baseball team since 1892 and won national titles
in 1947 and 1957.
Baseball is one of five sports – men’s
gymnastics, women’s gymnastics, men’s rugby and women’s lacrosse
– which are expected to be eliminated at the varsity level
(rugby will now be club status). California officials reported
Tuesday that the cuts would affect 163 of the more than 800
student athletes and 13 full-time coaches and save about $4
million from its cash-strapped budget.
“Totally shocked, feel for the current players,
coaching staff and alumni,” UCLA coach John Savage said. “Cal is
a legitimate baseball program and has been for years.”
Added Cal State Fullerton coach Dave Serrano, “My
first reaction was of sadness and shock. My sadness is for the
current coaches and players but also for their past history of
great coaches and players…the Bob Milano’s of the world and
their past players.
“The shock is my concern for what this means in these tough
economic times for our sport of college baseball. My hope is
that Cal baseball is not an example for the future of college
Cal joins the likes of Vermont, Northern Iowa and
Duquesne who have dropped baseball over the past two years.
Unlike the others, the Golden Bears play in a power conference –
a conference that welcomed Oregon back to the baseball mix – and
are centered in a hotbed of baseball.
“This is a terrible message to college baseball,”
Savage said. “Whenever a program of this magnitude gets dropped
it’s a bad thing. Everyone in college baseball does not feel
good about what happened at Cal today.”
Cal was 29-24 in 2010 and 13-14 in the Pac-10,
which enjoyed its strongest season in years. The Golden Bears
earned their 11th NCAA tournament bid as the No. 2 seed in the
Norman Regional, where they went 0-2.
David Esquer, entering his 12th season in
Berkeley, has registered more than 300 victories after taking
over for Bob Milano, who guided the program for 22 years
(688-644-4 from 1978-99). Fifty-two of Esquer’s players have
signed professional contracts, including Brandon Morrow (fifth
overall in 2006), Brett Jackson, David Cooper and Conor Jackson.