Owls Head Way Downtown For Weekend Games At Minute Maid Park

Feb. 28, 2013

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PDF of Rice's latest pregame release

The Last Meeting
North Carolina (CWS)7
June 21, 2007
Omaha, Neb.
Baseball Season Comes To An End With 7-4 Loss To North Carolina In College World Series Semifinals
Third-ranked North Carolina used four home runs and quality pitching to claim a 7-4 win over the Rice baseball team before a Rosenblatt Stadium crowd of 22,344 and national television audience on ESPN in a semifinal elimination game at the College World Series Thursday evening in Omaha.

Astros Foundation College Classic - Minute Maid Park
Mar. 1 (Fri.) 3:30 pm; #1 North Carolina (visitor) vs. Rice (home)
GameTracker (activates at game time)
This game will be televised tape-delayed on Comcast SportsNet Houston on March 2 at 4 pm.

Mar. 2 (Sat.) 7 pm; Rice (visitor) vs. Texas A&M (home)
GameTracker (activates at game time)
This game will be televised tape-delayed on Comcast SportsNet Houston on March 4 at 12 noon.

Mar. 3 (Sun.) 5:30 pm; Baylor (visitor) vs. Rice (home)
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This game will be televised tape-delayed on Comcast SportsNet Houston on March 6 at 12 noon.

Mar. 4 (Mon.) 3 pm; Cal at Rice, Reckling Park (not affiliated with Astros Foundation Classic)
Give Away Items: 2013 poster and schedule cards
Concession Special: TBA
Watch the game on the web
GameTracker (activates at game time)



All times listed are Central Time. Internet features activate at game time.

Owls Head Way Downtown For Astros Foundation College Classic (March 1-3)
The Rice baseball team, 6-2 overall and ranked as high as No. 12 in the country, plays three games downtown at Minute Maid Park this weekend (Mar. 1-3) as part of the annual Astros Foundation College Classic Tournament. The Owls are making their 13th-consecutive appearance in one of the elite regular season tournaments played at the major league home venue of the Houston Astros. Rice meets undefeated and No. 1 ranked North Carolina on Friday, followed by SEC power Texas A&M on Saturday, and longtime rival Baylor on Sunday.

Catch All The Rice Games At The Classic On Tape-Delayed TV
Each of Rice's three games at the Astros Foundation Classic will be taped for a television broadcast by Comcast SportsNet Houston, a local leader in college sports programing. The three Owl games are scheduled to air on the following dates: Rice vs. North Carolina airs Saturday, March 2, at 4 pm
Rice vs. Texas A&M airs Monday, March 4, at noon
Rice vs. Baylor airs Wednesday, March 6, at noon

Consider It Another FOUR-Game Weekend
Like the previous weekend in Hawaii, the Owls are extending the weekend by playing four games in four days from Friday through Monday. After tournament action wraps-up at Minute Maid Park the Owls host another Foundation Classic participant from the weekend, the Cal Golden Bears, on Monday (March 4) at Reckling Park. Monday's Rice-Cal game is not connected with the Foundation Classic. Both Rice and Cal are simply making the most of an opportunity to get a high-caliber opponent on their respective schedules. First pitch at Reckling Park is set for 3 pm.

Watch Reckling Park Games On OwlVision All Access
Reckling Park home games are slated for a live on-line video broadcast by OwlVision All Access. OwlVision is a subscription-based service which matches the play-by-play audio with a video feed to create a television-like broadcast on the Internet (either live or in an archived format). The service has been growing in popularity the last few years. Information about the service and subscription prices are available here. Access the service on game day at the above links.

Audio Broadcasts - Catch Every Rice Baseball Game On The Web & At The Park
Every Rice baseball game this season will be broadcast live around the world on the Internet at RiceOwls.com. Use the above link to access the Internet audio page. Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before each game's first pitch. Fans attending the games, home or away, can now listen to the Rice broadcast at the stadium where the team plays via an FM proximity transmitter. The FM frequencies for the in-stadium broadcasts this week will be 99.7 FM. J.P. Heath returns as the voice of the Owls this season. For some selected games he will be joined in the Rice broadcast booth by either 2003 national champion letterman Enrique Cruz or Jimmy Baseball, aka letterman and now staff member Jimmy Comerota.

Live Stats On GameTracker
Live play-by-play text and statistics from every game will be posted on RiceOwls.com. Look for the GameTracker links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, or the baseball schedule page.

National Ranking Update • Five In The Top 15; As High As No. 12
With an impressive four-game road sweep of Hawaii over the weekend the Owls are flying high in a host of different national polls. Here's a closer look at the latest national rankings:

Poll This Week Last Week
NCBWA 12 12
Collegiate Baseball Magazine 13 10
Baseball America 13 13
PerfectGame.com 14 15
USA Today/ESPN 14 17
College Sports Madness 17 16

Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 22nd season at Rice. The 2013 campaign marks his 33rd year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 959-382 with the Owls (576-139 at home, 292-189 in road games and 91-54 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .715, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .715 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 116 games in a single year... Graham's records vs. the upcoming opponents is as follows: 2-3 vs. North Carolina (1-0 home, 2-3 neutral); 33-17 vs. Texas A&M (18-4 home, 8-11 road, 7-2 neutral); 28-19 vs. Baylor (16-8 home, 7-9 road, 5-2 neutral); 2-4 vs. California (2-3 home, 0-1 road)... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2012, making 18-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12. The 2003 bid culminated with the Owls' first national championship... Rice played in the 1994-95-96 Southwest Conference tournaments (winning the final league title in `96), won the 1997-98-99 WAC tournaments, shared the 2000 WAC title with San Jose State before winning the 2001-02-03-04-05 titles outright. He won (or shared) C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09 and `11... Graham was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 1998, `99, `02 and the Co-Coach of the Year in `03. He was named the Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year in `06, his first year in the league, and again in `07, `08, `10 and `11... Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series under Graham (1997, `99, `02, `03, `06, `07, `08)... Graham has led the Owls to number-one rankings for seven weeks during the 1999 season, for six weeks during the `01 campaign, two weeks in `02, six weeks in 2003 (the last of which established some staying power), three weeks in 2004, 12 weeks in 2006 and five weeks in `07... Graham's San Jacinto Gators dominated the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in the 1980s, winning five national titles in six years (1985-86-87, 89-90)... The Austin American-Statesman named Graham its SWC Coach of the Year in `95 after he led the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance... Collegiate Baseball was especially cognizant of Graham's efforts at San Jac. He was named the newspaper's Coach of the Decade for all levels in the 1980s after winning those five junior college national titles, and CB tabbed him the NJCAA Coach of the Century... He was named the 2007 Division I college Coach of the Year by FieldTurf... One of the few current collegiate coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; eighth year), Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; second year) and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; first year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepperd coaches at first base.

1,533 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 959 career wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,533 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall collegiate record is 1,533-495 in a 32-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Probable Rice Pitchers
Wayne Graham announced the Owls' probable starting pitchers for the weekend games as right-hander Austin Kubitza (1-0, 0.00) vs. North Carolina, right-hander Jordan Stephens (1-1, 1.65) vs Texas A&M, and John Simms (3-0, 0.00) vs. Baylor. The Rice starting pitcher for March 4 game vs. Cal will be announced by coach Graham at a later time.

Quick On The Opposing Starters
At press time the Rice opponents for this weekend listed their respective starting pitchers as...
Friday -- LHP Kent Emanuel (2-0, 0.56 ERA)
Saturday -- RHP Daniel Mengden (2-0, 1.42 ERA)
Sunday -- RHP Max Garner (0-2, 3.27 ERA)

Rice At Minute Maid Park
Rice will be playing at the Houston College Classic for the 13th year in a row. The Owls are 26-10 in 36 games at Minute Maid Park, the most wins of any team in the history of the event. Rice went 2-1 at the tournament last season, defeating Texas Tech 6-2 and Tennessee 11-1 after falling to Texas 11-8... When playing at Minute Maid Park, Rice is 4-2 vs. Texas A&M, 5-2 vs. Baylor and 0-0 vs. North Carolina... The Blue & Gray is also 2-4 vs. Texas, 7-0 vs. Texas Tech, 2-0 vs. TCU, 1-0 vs. Kansas State, 1-0 vs. Kentucky, 1-0 vs. Oklahoma, 1-0 vs. Oklahoma State, 1-0 vs. UCLA, 1-0 vs. Tennessee, and 0-1 vs. Alabama and 0-1 vs. Vanderbilt...

Rice Highlights At The College Classic
The Owls won all three of their games in the inaugural tournament in 2001, but have had plenty of drama downtown over the years. Jesse Roman hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning vs. Baylor for the Owls' 1-0 victory in the first college game ever played in what was then called Enron Field... A highlight of 2002 was Dane Bubela's home run in the top of the 12th to give Rice' a 10-9 victory over Baylor... The Blue & Gray lost its first game of the 2003 season on a Sunday at Minute Maid by a score of 6-5 to Alabama (Feb. 16). The most notable aspect of the 2003 tournament was that it served as surreal springboard for the next few weeks. After falling to Alabama by a single run the Owls won 30 games in a row and didn't lose again for nearly two months. Rice went on to claim the national championship... In 2005 Rice junior pitcher and future major leaguer Josh Geer was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Geer held nationally-ranked Texas A&M in check for 8.0 innings, allowing just one run (unearned), one hit and two walks with five strikeouts in front of a raucous crowd. He retired 21 in a row at one point and induced 16 ground ball outs... In 2009 the Owls had a whirlwind three days at the Classic, defeating UCLA in ten innings when Michael Fuda scored from second base on an infield hit. Eventual MLB draft pick Ryan Berry then showcased a pitching performance that was maybe even more dominating than Geer's two years before. Berry fired a complete-game two-hit shutout victory against Texas A&M. The Humble, Tex., native allowed just one hit through the first eight innings, struck out 12 and did not walk a batter. For his efforts Berry was named the Most Outstanding Player of the College Classic and the National Pitcher of the Week by Collegiate Baseball... In 2010 it was three nail-biting, one-run games against three longtime state rivals (Texas, TCU and Texas Tech). Texas was No. 3 in the country and TCU went on to play in the College World Series... In 2011 the Owls had three dramatic games, including two one-run wins. The 2011 highlight was Austin Kubitza's masterful, complete-game, six-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over Texas A&M on day two. In only his third start at the Division I level, Kubitza faced only 31 batters on an Aggie team ranked as high as No. 9 in the nation for his first collegiate win. He scattered six hits without any walks and tied a career-best with seven strikeouts. For that effort he was named the Outstanding Player of the Classic and the National Pitcher of the Week... Last season Rice improved to 11-1 with a pair of wins at Minute Maid. The highlight was Jordan Stephens earning the Most Outstanding Player honors after scattering two hits and striking out eight in an 11-1 romp of Tennessee.

Previous Outing: Rice Completes Four-Game Sweep With Monday Shutout of Hawaii, 5-0
HONOLULU, Hawaii - The Rice baseball team had three hits and three RBI from Michael Aquino, and a solid 6.0 inning start on the mound from John Simms, to pace the Owls to a 5-0 road victory over Hawaii in a late game Monday night at Les Murakami Stadium in Honolulu... With the win Rice improved to 6-2 on the season and completed a four-game sweep of the Rainbows in the weekend series. The Owl pitchers posted two shutouts in the series, including a 2-0 win in a 17-inning marathon in the opener and a 5-0 finale Monday. Eight different Rice hurlers combined for a 1.02 ERA in 44.0 total innings and held the Rainbows to a composite .189 batting average... The duo of Simms and freshmen reliever Blake Fox did their part to keep the pitching performances as strong at the end as they were in the Friday's opener. Simms scattered five hits without any walks while striking out three in 6.0 innings. Fox followed suit with 3.0 scoreless innings of two-hit relief to earn his first collegiate save... Rice jumped on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning and later added single runs in the fifth and sixth. For the first score Michael Ratterree walked and hustled into scoring position on a failed Hawaii pick-off attempt. He went to third on a single up the middle by Shane Hoelscher and scored on Aquino's fade-away single to left-center... Aquino started the fifth with a leadoff single through the right-side. He sprinted to third on Keenan Cook's double down the left field line and scored easily on a sacrifice fly to right field by Geoff Perrott... The Blue & Gray were aggressive on the basepaths to add a run in the sixth. Ford Stainback led off with a walk and stole second to move into scoring position. He came home on an RBI single up the middle by Christian Stringer to stretch the lead to 3-0... In the eighth Hoelscher lined a one-out double near the left field line and Aquino followed with a towering home run to left field. Aquino's team-leading third round-tripper of the season made the score 5-0 and left too much ground for the Rainbows to make up in too short a time. The Owl defense had already worked out of a bases-loaded situation in the fifth, as well as avoid danger after Hawaii runners reached scoring position in the fourth, seventh and eighth.

Rice Baseball's 97th Season On The Field
Rice Owl baseball made its debut in the spring of 1913, just one semester after the school (then The Rice Institute) opened its doors for higher education in the fall of 1912. The 2013 season is, however, only the Owls' 97th season playing on the diamond. The school cancelled its baseball season in 1919 and did not field a team for three years (1933-35) during the Great Depression. Rice returned to the diamond in the spring of 1936 and has been playing ever since... The Rice baseball program's all-time record is 1,866 - 1,491- 9.

Big Opening Weekend Series At Reckling Park
Hosting Stanford in an important season-opening series was not lost on college baseball fans. The three games vs. the Cardinal brought in a total of 12,237 fans for the best-attended opening weekend in Reckling Park history. The mark eclipsed the previous record set when Stanford visited two years ago. Here's how some other opening weekends have added-up. (Note that many of the previous opening weekends were in a tournament format against three different opponents.)
Year, 1st Weekend Total (Average)
1. 2012 - 12,237 (4,079)
2. 2011 - 12,182 (4,060)
3. 2009 - 10,950 (3,650)
4. 2004 - 10,117 (3,372)
5. 2012 - 9,615 (3,205)
6. 2010 - 9,198 (3,066)

Postseason Streak At 18-Straight, Looking For 19
The Rice baseball program's 18-straight appearances in the NCAA Baseball Championship is the fourth-longest active streak in the country. Miami (Fla.) has made the field for the 40 consecutive years, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (35) and Cal State Fullerton (21). Rice's 18-straight NCAA Tournament appearances is the sixth-longest national postseason streak in Division I history.

Conference Championship Streak At 17-Straight
Rice has won or shared a total of 17-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers the Owls' membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and seven Conference USA titles in as many years... In 2012 Rice won the C-USA regular season championship on the last day of the league's 24-game schedule. The Owls and UCF were tied for first in the C-USA standings heading into the final game of the season. The Blue & Gray clipped the Knights 5-2 to welcome the program's 17th championship to the family.

18-Straight 40-Win Seasons
Rice has clinched 18-straight seasons with at least 40 wins. `Forty' wins actually short-changes the feat a little. The Owls have secured at least 41 wins in 17 of the last 18 years.

Two More TV Games Later This Season
There are three tape-delayed games this weekend from Minute Maid Park. There are also two regular season Rice games tabbed for a television broadcast on FOX Sports Net. The Owls' March 28 home game against Conference USA foe Tulane is the first televised contest. The other is the April 20 game at crosstown rival Houston, which the network has now moved to a new 12:30 pm start time... Rice's number of televised games could still increase during the course of the year, including regular season games and in the C-USA Championship to be held May 22-26 at Reckling Park. The tournament's championship final (May 26 at 1 pm) is again set for a television broadcast on CBS College Sports.
Rice's 2013 Games Selected For Television Broadcast
March 28 vs. Tulane - 6:30 pm FOX Sports Net
*April 20 vs. Houston - 12:30 pm FOX Sports Net
(May 26 C-USA Championship Final - 1 pm) CBS College Sports
* - denotes a new starting time

Kubitza & Stringer Garner National Preseason Honors
WICHITA, Kan. - The veteran Rice duo of junior Austin Kubitza and senior Christian Stringer have been tabbed as 2013 preseason All-America selections by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association of America (NCBWA), the organization announced from its headquarters in Wichita Kan... Kubitza and Stringer were both named to the NCBWA's preseason All-America second team as a starting pitcher and second baseman, respectively. The Owl duo helped Rice go 41-19 last season, claim the Conference USA regular season championship and host an NCAA Regional at Reckling Park... In his first season of Division I baseball after transferring from Navarro College, Stringer took C-USA by storm. The junior second baseman batted a team-leading .343 in 59 starts, and he maintained a .389 average in C-USA league games. Stringer also led the team and ranked among the conference leaders in hits (81), runs (58) and on-base percentage (.448). The Longview, Tex., native was second in walks (38) and steals (6), but his defense might have made the biggest impact to the Owls. Stringer maintained a .978 fielding percentage at second base where he turned or started 35 of the Owls' 46 double plays... A year ago Kubitza finished with a 6-5 record and he was second on the staff in ERA (2.69), innings pitched (80.1) and strikeouts (73). The right-hander from Colleyville, Tex., shared the team lead in starts (15) and he held all opposing hitters to an austere .211 batting average. He was named the C-USA Freshman of the Year after his first Division I season in 2011.

The C-USA Favorites
IRVING, Tex. - With three preseason all-conference players, including the duo of junior Austin Kubitza and Christian Stringer as the 2013 Preseason Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively, the Rice baseball team was picked to finish first in the league in the annual Conference USA head coaches' poll the C-USA office announced... Stringer and Kubitza (season info provided above) are joined by fellow Owl Michael Ratterree on the preseason All-Conference USA team, giving Rice a league-high-tying three selections. Ratterree posted a .407 slugging percentage last season with 20 extra-base hits (13 doubles, one triple and six home runs). The local standout from Memorial High School drew a team-high 42 walks, giving him a .378 on-base percentage. He also drove in 33 runs and unselfishly moved to a new defensive position in the outfield to better-help the team... Under the direction of head coach Wayne Graham Rice returns four of the nine starters in the batting order and a host of veteran pitchers from a year ago. The Owls also have a highly-touted group of incoming freshmen players making their Division I debut this spring. •

2013 PRESEASON BASEBALL AWARDS (as selected by C-USA's head coaches)
1. Rice
2. Southern Miss (1)
3. East Carolina
4. UCF
5. Tulane (1)
6. Memphis
7. Houston
8. UAB
9. Marshall
(first place votes in parentheses)

Christian Stringer, Rice (Senior, Infielder)

Austin Kubitza, Rice (Junior, Right-hander)

P Austin Kubitza, Jr., Rice
P Sam Moll, Jr. Memphis
P Andrew Pierce, Sr., Southern Miss
RP Bradley Roney, So., Southern Miss
C Ryan Breen, Sr. UCF
IF Garrett Cannizaro, Sr., Tulane
IF Brennan Middleton, Sr., Tulane
IF Jack Reinheimer, Jr., East Carolina
IF Christian Stringer, Sr., Rice
IF Chris Taladay, Sr., UCF
OF Landon Appling, Jr., Houston
OF Brandon Boudreaux, Sr., Tulane
OF Michael Ratterree, Sr., Rice
OF Mason Robbins, So., Southern Miss
DH/UT Drew Reynolds, Jr., East Carolina

Legends of the Fall
Registering consistent off-season performances in the fall workouts is still one of the best ways to catch a coach's attention in college baseball, and the Owls' 2011 fall training was no exception. Newcomers like true freshmen Leon Byrd and Blake Fox turned in sound and solid outings to give themselves a possible wealth of playing time in the spring. Fox maintained a 2.29 ERA in 19.2 fall innings while striking out 13 strikeouts. Byrd, a former prep star at Cy Ranch High School, batted .275 while playing both centerfield and shortstop in Blue-Gray games and shared the team lead in stolen bases... Redshirt freshman Matt Ditman distinguished himself as a right-handed option on the mound... Junior third baseman Shane Hoelscher meanwhile showed perhaps the biggest improvement over the last calendar year while batting a team-best .418 with a .543 on-base average.

Rice Since 1999
Using the 1999 season as the starting point (the year the NCAA expanded the postseason tournament field to 64 teams with the current Super Regional format), Rice baseball has maintained one of the nation's top win percentages over the last 14 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999 to 2012: (These totals do NOT include games played in 2013).
Team, Wins-Loses-Ties (Pct.)
Florida State, 701-244-1 (.742)
Rice, 676-240-0 (.738)
Coastal Carolina, 615-253-0 (.709)
North Carolina, 635-262-1 (.708)
Oral Roberts, 599-249-0 (.706)
Texas, 644-269-1 (.705)
South Carolina, 661-281-0 (.702)
Arizona State, 567-244-1 (.699)
Cal State Fullerton, 615-265-0 (.699)
Miami, 601-269-3 (.690)
Wichita State, 633-301-0 (.678)
Georgia Tech, 589-281-1 (.677)
LSU, 605-294-5 (.672)
Stanford, 568-292-2 (.660)
Tulane, 570-295-2 (.659)
Nebraska, 562-291-2 (.658)
Clemson, 601-316-1 (.655)
East Carolina, 555-295-1 (.653)
Notre Dame, 542-298-5 (.644)
Florida, 564-320-2 (.638)

Ten For The Show
Ten former Rice players were on major league rosters last season. The Owls' 2013 list of big-leaguers includes David Aardsma (Yankees), Lance Berkman (Rangers), Tim Byrdak (Mets), Tony Cingrani (Reds), Brock Holt (Red Sox), Philip Humber (Astros), Paul Janish (Braves), Lucas Luetge (Mariners), Jeff Niemann (Rays) and Joe Savery (Phillies).

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion dynamo out there, Rice is 2-1 in its all-white uniforms, 0-1 in the pinstripes, 2-0 in blue tops with white pants and 2-0 in all-gray.

Charlton Inducted Into San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame
Former Rice standout Norm Charlton, who left South Main and went on to a 14-year Major League career that included a World Series title with the Cincinnati Reds, was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame on February 15 in a ceremony held at the Alamodome... After a stellar career at San Antonio's Madison High School, Charlton was a standout for coach David Hall at Rice from 1982-84. Charlton twice led the Owls in ERA, including a 2.24 mark as a junior that led the nation. He was drafted by the Montreal Expos with the 28th pick in the first round of the 1984 draft... He was traded by the Expos to the Cincinnati Reds in 1986 and two years later he reached the major leagues. He alternated between the bullpen and a starting role early in his career, but a move to the bullpen prior to the 1991 season teamed Charlton with a collection of hard throwers including Rob Dibble and Randy Myers, who would became known as the "Nasty Boys" as they helped sparked the Reds to the 1991 World Series title. He was a member of the National League All Star team in 1992... Charlton was traded to Seattle in 1992 in exchange for slugger Kevin Mitchell and went on to play on two of the Mariners most successful teams. The 1995 Mariners were the first team in franchise history to reach the postseason, while the 2001 team won 116 games... Charlton, who graduated from Rice with a triple major in political science, religion and physical education, retired from baseball in 2001. He was a member of Hanszen College and wore No. 25 for the Blue & Gray.
San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame website



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