A '50s Flavor
How fitting that there was talk of an earlier era in college baseball before the championship game of this year's College World Series. After all, Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium is a charming throwback to another time, a comebacker, if you will, with an organist who plays catchy ditties such as Doggie in the Window and a chatty P.A. announcer who encourages fans to "Shake hands. It's get-acquainted time. And when it's over, don't say goodbye. Say, 'See you next year.' "
Before a record-setting crowd of 21,503 would say their so-longs on Saturday, either Georgia Tech or Oklahoma would do something that hadn't been done since way back in the '50s. If Georgia Tech prevailed, the Yellow Jackets would be not only the first team since 1956 to win the NCAA title in its first trip to the series, but also the first ACC school to win since '55. If Oklahoma won, the victory would be the first for the Sooners since 1951 and the first for a Big Eight school since '59.
With its 13-5 victory Oklahoma became only the fifth team since the College World Series moved to Omaha in 1950 to go undefeated in both the regional tournament and the eight-team, double-elimination world series. So it wasn't surprising that the Sooners were led by a kid with a name, Chip, straight out of the '50s and a coach, Larry Cochell, who is a bit of a relic himself.
This was Cochell's first NCAA title in a 28-year career, after having taken three schools to the series. All told, he has headed up seven programs, including a brief stopover at Omaha's Creighton University in 1970 and 71. Last week he told stories of the days when he lived in America's biggest small town: buying his first house with his wife, Fran, behind the old Brandeis store on 72nd Street and purchasing their first furniture at Nebraska Furniture Market from Louie Blumkin.
Oklahoma's Chip Glass, a senior centerfielder who batted .389 with three home runs, four RBIs and three stolen bases in four games in the series, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Glass hit only three homers in 227 at bats during the regular season, and he had two the year before. "Chip is not a home run hitter, and I've been on him all year about this," said Cochell. "His nickname is Pop-Up Chip, and I would always tell him, 'Chip, quit hitting the ball in the air. Get the ball down on the ground and use your speed.' "
Glass poked all three of his world series dingers after choking up Little League-style on the bat. "People think when you choke high up that you're not going to have as much power," said Glass, who singled and homered against Georgia Tech. "But it doesn't matter as long as you hit the sweet spot."
A transfer from Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College two years ago, Glass wasn't a regular at the start of the season, but he took over in center when injuries sidelined Jerry Whittaker. The Sooners were fortunate that Glass was in the lineup for a first-round game against Arizona State. In the bottom of the sixth, with the bases loaded, the score knotted 3-3 and two outs, Glass made the best catch of the series, doing a belly flop in left center to rob Sean Tyler of an extra-base hit. Oklahoma went on to beat the Sun Devils 4-3 in 11 innings.
Marco the Magnificent
Marco Martelli, the batboy for Cal State-Fullerton, handled the team's aluminum Eastons efficiently enough, but he was a much bigger hit with his uncanny predictions. The Titans hung on every prescient word from the mouth of Marco, the seven-year-old son of Joe Martelli, the team's batting instructor.