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Archive for Thursday, June 3, 1993

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June 3, 1993

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There is little doubt in John Wuycheck's mind what would have happened if he had stayed at Texas A&M.

"If I had stayed, I don't think I would have ever gotten to play (in) the field," Wuycheck said.

By some quirk of fate, Wuycheck, one of KU's best hitters, didn't impress the Aggies in his tryout fresh out of high school. By another fluke, the Jayhawks will meet A&M on Friday in the opening game of the College World Series.

"I always wanted to go back and play (A&M), from a personal standpoint," Wuycheck said. "But I also can't worry about my personal feelings."

Admittedly, his feelings were a bit bruised by the Aggies. Upon graduating from Brophy Prep in Paradise Valley, Ariz., Wuycheck decided to walk on at Texas A&M. The Aggies weren't impressed.

"What happened was, they brought me in to see what I could do," Wuycheck said. "I didn't hit as well as I would have liked. They saw me as a pitcher, but I knew I could hit."

HE RED-SHIRTED his freshman year and started looking for a place to prove he could hit. Enter KU coach Dave Bingham.

"We saw him as a young kid," Bingham said. "He was still playing Legion ball after his first year at Texas A&M and he was looking for some place to go.

"I think he basically told his dad, 'If I can't play at Kansas, I can't play anywhere.' Hopefully, it turned out better than he thought it would."

Indeed it has, Wuycheck said. Remember, when Wuycheck -- and Jeff Berblinger, Jimmy Walker, Jeff Niemeier and David Soult, the team's only four-year Jayhawks -- arrived, KU was a perennial doormat.

"We've been through just about everything together," Wuycheck said. "We've been through some great times and some tough times. It was frustrating. We were trying to do too much, and we weren't where we wanted to be. I think that played a major role in being where we are today."

Just as Wuycheck has played a major role in putting the Jayhawks where they are today. A first baseman, Wuycheck has hit .339 this season with 56 RBIs, second on the team behind Jeff Niemeier.

AND HE the other four-year Jayhawks played a major role in keeping Bingham at KU.

"When I was sitting there two years ago and we weren't getting anywhere after three years, I was saying, 'I'm not sure if I want to do this,'" Bingham said. "It was not fun, and if it's not fun you shouldn't be involved.

"The only thing that saved it is, I thought about the Wuychecks and the Niemeiers and sitting at home with their families and saying, 'We want you guys and we're going to build something.' I decided at that point that I was going to stick with these kids and see if we could do it with these guys."

It turns out, they have, and it's a dream come true for Wuycheck, who, just five years ago, simply wanted a shot at playing Div. I baseball.

Now he and the Jayhawks are at the pinnacle.

"IT'S HUGE," Wuycheck said. "I can't really say enough about it. It's something we've really been after for four years, to be able to prove ourselves against the top eight teams in the country. What an honor and what a thrill."

Even the fact that KU was given the eighth seed in the CWS hasn't cooled Wuycheck's enthusiasm.

"That's almost where we wanted to be," he said. "Now the pressure's on everyone else to beat us."

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