Cal Baseball will not be
The University of California, Berkeley, announced
in September it would eliminate five varsity sports, including
baseball. On Friday, the school reported that three sports would
be retained, but baseball was not one of them.
Cal will keep women’s lacrosse, women’s
gymnastics and men’s rugby. Baseball and men’s gymnastics will
cease to exist at the conclusion of their 2011 seasons.
“We were led to believe all or none,” head coach
Dave Esquer said. “That’s what we were told, that was our goal.
Our supporters and our leadership group, they were not out to
save just Cal Baseball, they were out to save all five sports.”
Fund-raising efforts secured between $12 and $13
million in pledges, enough to cover the three retained sports
for at least the next seven to 10 years. The school felt that
money pledged for baseball and men’s gymnastics would cover
costs for just two years.
The Golden Bears have fielded a baseball team
since 1892 and won national titles in 1947 and 1957. Cal was
29-24 this past season and 13-14 in the Pac-10. The Golden Bears
received their 11th NCAA tournament bid and were the No. 2 seed
in the Norman Regional. Cal was ranked as high as No. 17 in this
year’s national preseason polls.
“I don’t think you’re going to be writing the
obituary of Cal Baseball at this point in time,” Esquer said. “I
think this is obviously a huge setback, but I continue to
believe that at some point in time, maybe not in my time here at
Cal, but there will be Cal Baseball again.”
Esquer, entering his 12th
season at Cal, has recorded more than 300 victories since
succeeding Bob Milano, who guided the program for 22 years
(688-644-4 from 1978-99). Esquer has had 52 players sign
professional contracts, including Brandon Morrow, Brett Jackson,
David Cooper and Conor Jackson.
“The first thing that went through my mind is
we’re dangerous,” sophomore second baseman Tony Renda said.
“We’re all mad. It’s tough to find that out. Thirty-six of us
have stuck around and we’re going to give this thing a go.
“To play baseball, I’ll transfer,” Renda said.
“That’s what I want to do with my career and I know it’s what a
lot of guys want to do with their career. That’s why we do this.
That’s why we’re playing Pac-10 baseball.”
Cal joins the likes of Vermont, Northern Iowa and
Duquesne who have dropped baseball over the past two years. One
big difference is that the Golden Bears play in a power
conference, one that saw Oregon bring baseball back.
"We wish the best of luck to the coaches, players
and families as they move forward,” San Francisco head coach
Nino Giarratano said. “We hope that another door opens for each
of them. We wish there was something we could do to help."