Archive for Sunday, March 30, 2003

Jayhawks celebrate ‘93 squad

March 30, 2003

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Prior to Kansas University's 8-7 baseball loss Saturday against Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks took time to honor the 1993 College World Series team.

Approximately 20 members of the '93 squad were honored in a pregame ceremony, with a sign unveiled on the left-field wall paying tribute to the Jayhawks' remarkable run.

"I thought it was outstanding," current KU coach Ritch Price said. "It was great to have those guys back. Obviously, they're very proud of their accomplishments."

Jeff Niemeier, a catcher on the 1993 team, threw the ceremonial first pitch, and members from both the '93 and current KU squads took time to shake hands with each other.

"Coach Price really extended the offer to us, and we were very appreciative of that," Niemeier said. "We want to be part of this program for a long time."

The '93 team defied the odds to go 45-18 and advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The Jayhawks went 4-1 in the NCAA Mideast Regional before losing 5-1 to Texas A&M and 6-1 to Long Beach State.

That year, Kansas became the first school to have a team in the College World Series, reach the men's basketball Final Four and win a football bowl game in the same academic year.

"If you can dream the most impossible dream and have that dream come true, that's what those kids did," said Dave Bingham, KU's coach from 1988-95. "For those kids to be able to accomplish that was an incredible achievement for them -- way beyond what coaches could do. It was the character of the kids that did it."

Added Niemeier, "The only guys who really thought we had a chance were the guys in the dugout."

The 1994 team, with many of the same players, fell just short of another College World Series appearance, and since then, the program has struggled.

Price said he hopes his team can find inspiration from the presence of KU's greatest.

"They've set the standard for KU baseball," Price said. "Hopefully, as we try to rebuild this program, we can someday be in those shoes."

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