clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The all-time Texas baseball team

New, comments

A team constructed of the best baseball players to ever wear burnt orange.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Recently hired Texas baseball coach David Pierce is set to bring in a new era for the historic Longhorns program, and the former Tulane dugout leader is prepared to develop players who have underperformed in their careers thus far. The next Longhorn great may be on the roster now, or could be in the next couple of years. After a largely disappointing last half-decade for the program, Texas seems due for an All-American caliber player to begin the turnaround. Each coach before Pierce has had tremendous athletes who flourished in both the college game and at the big league level.

To take a further look at some of the legendary UT ball players, I've constructed a starting lineup of the all-time best. I've already done this for basketball (using only current players), but Texas baseball is just as deserving, if not more so. Though many of the most talented baseball stars sign pro contracts out of high school, the Longhorns can still construct a quality team out of the all-time legends.

Two rules for the list are:

1. The player must have not only gone to Texas, but played baseball there (this one is targeting you, Adam Dunn).

2. Though Texas performance is considered more strongly than pro performance, the pros are still taken into account. The player must have gone on to play Major League Baseball (this means legends like Brian Cisarik and Dustin Majewski are not included).

So, with that in mind, here are my picks for the best ever Texas players by position:

C: Taylor Teagarden (2003-2005)

Taylor Teagarden was behind the plate during one of the best eras in college baseball history. In 2003, Texas finished third in the nation, in 2004, they were the College World Series runner-up, and in 2005, they finally won it all. It was the perfect team trajectory for Teagarden, whose individual performance was a key reason for Texas’ success. Tied for ninth all-time in Longhorn career starts, he batted .315 as a rookie in burnt orange on his way to becoming a Freshman All-American. His sophomore year, Teagarden was named to the USA baseball national team along with Drew Stubbs. But the climax of Teagarden’s Longhorn career came in 2005, when he was a Johnny Bench award finalist, an honor bestowed on the nation’s best catcher. The Dallas native hit .333 that year, and the Longhorns' season ended in a dog pile of joy.

Teagarden didn’t come back to Texas for his senior year, as he was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the third round of the MLB draft. He would never be more than a fringe major league player, though he occasionally served as the Cubs’ back up catcher during their 2015 run. However, on April 1, 2016, Teagarden was suspended 80 games due to an Al Jazeera report which included a video of Teagarden discussing his performance enhancing drug usage. At 32-years old, it’s unlikely Teagarden will ever play in the big leagues again.

An interesting note is that two of Texas baseball's most memorable catchers played near the same time frame. Cameron Rupp (2008-2010), a Johnny Bench award semi-finalist, falls right behind Teagarden in Texas legacy. He is currently thriving this season in the MLB for the Philadelphia Phillies.

1B: Tom Hamilton (1947-1949)

First base was surprisingly one of the hardest positions to fill for this list -- Brian Cisarik (1987-1989) holds the best single season batting average and career best on base percentage for Texas, but he never played in the majors and therefore isn’t counted. Brandon Belt (2008-2009) might become an MLB All-Star this year, but his two seasons at Texas were not historically memorable. However, Tom Hamilton is very much worthy of the honor of being on the Longhorn all-time list.

Hamilton may have played for Texas almost 70 years ago, but the slugger left his mark nonetheless. He had a career batting average of .347, and his 1949 slugging percentage of .878 blows any other Longhorn out of the water. The Bibb Falk coached athlete was a powerful force to be reckoned with for a program now known for its finesse and small ball tactics. Hamilton even won a College World Series for Texas in 1949, and was the first player to ever be bestowed "College World Series Most Outstanding Player" honors.

Hamilton was also a standout basketball star for Texas, as he was the first Longhorn to score 1,000 points. He decided to play pro baseball, however, and signed with the Athletics in 1950. He made his Major League debut in 1952. Due to World War II, he was a 27-year old rookie. Hamilton's two year MLB career was not fruitful, as he only had 13 hits and no home runs. His MLB career slugging percentage was .242, .646 points lower than his record setting 1949 college slugging percentage.

Hamilton died young at the age of 48 in 1973. Prior to his death, he was the athletic director at St. Edward's, and he was elected to the University of Texas Hall of Honor in 1971.

2B: Billy Bates (1983-1985)

I was very close to making surprise pick and selecting Andre Robertson (1977-1979) at second base. Though Robertson never eclipsed a .300 average in burnt orange, he was a more promising professional prospect than Bates, before suffering a broken neck in a car crash that ended his career. He was also the first black player to receive a full scholarship for baseball at Texas, and endured racist slurs from fans in a still tense time in American history.

However, based on the legend built at the University of Texas, Bill Bates is head and shoulders above the rest, though he only stood 5 feet, 7 inches tall. Bates won a national championship his freshman season in 1983, and holds a plethora of various individual records to seal his name in Longhorn history. Bates has more triples in his college career than any other Longhorn with 20, and has the most runs ever scored by a Texas player in a season with 100 in 1985. The speedy middle infielder is also tied for fourth all-time in career steals for Texas, with 86 in his three years in Austin. It's not surprising he finds himself so high on the list, as he once raced a cheetah and won (on a technicality, but still).

Bates' skill set was very similar to Spike Owen, who played in the middle infield at Texas directly before him. However, Bates would not have as successful of a professional career as Owen. Picked in the fourth round by the Brewers, Bates was often used as a pinch runner in his two years in the majors. He won a World Series with the Reds in 1990, but it would be the last time he ever wore a Major League uniform. Though he played professionally until 1995, his MLB career concluded after only six hits. The man who used to substitute teach in the baseball off season now works in the oil and gas industry. Bates was inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 2000.

SS: Spike Owen (1980-1982)

The speedy switch hitter from Cleburne improved not coincidentally at the same rate his Longhorn team did. In Spike’s freshman season, he hit for a .296, only good for seventh best on the team. However, he earned his status as a legendary Longhorn when he drastically improved at the plate, hitting .338 and .336 in his final two years before being selected with the sixth overall pick by the Mariners. Texas made the College World Series in both of Owen’s final two seasons. The Longhorns lost only six games in ‘82, led by a stellar pitching staff including Calvin Schiraldi and Roger Clemens.

That’s not to take away from Owen, who provided the offensive output necessary for the Longhorn bullpen -- the shortstop had a Texas all-time record 250 runs scored in his career on the 40 acres. In addition to amassing hits, Owen also had a tremendous eye at the plate. Owen holds the second and third Texas all-time spots in single season bases on balls. His walks helped him own the second best career on base percentage in Texas history, with a .509 career OBP. Oh, and he’s third all-time in career stolen bases for Texas, swiping 95 bags in his three years.

While he was never an All-Star, Owen was a leader in the MLB. His major league career began in 1983, only one year after he was drafted sixth overall by Seattle, and Owen became captain of the Mariners by 1986. He continued to be a run scoring machine by tying a major league record six runs scored in a game in 1986. His defensive prowess is also in the record books, as Owen set a National League record 63 error-less innings in 1990. He ended up playing for five teams before retiring in 1996. Owen is now a minor league coach.

3B : David Chalk (1969-1972)

David Chalk was a two-time captain for the Longhorns and a rare four-year player for someone of his ability. He sits sixth all-time in career batting average for Texas, hitting .362 during his time in burnt orange. Though not especially fast or powerful, Chalk somehow managed to hit three homers in a game once, and led the Longhorns in stolen bases in 1971 with 12. He was a first team All-American in 1971 and 1972, and won All-Southwest Conference first team honors all four years of his college career. He was ultimately drafted by the Angels with the tenth overall pick.

Though his pro career was only eight seasons, Chalk made the most of every one, playing in the big leagues each year and being selected for the All-Star game twice. He was declared the No.58 all-time Angel in 2013 for his reliability and durability.

Chalk was elected to the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. His daughter, Brittany was a softball player for the Longhorns, and wore number three just like her dad did.

CF: Drew Stubbs (2004-2006)

Drew Stubbs is Texas' most recent baseball legend, at least according to this list. And legend he was -- still directly in the age of Longhorn prosperity, Stubbs was an integral part of teams that finished second and first in the nation, as well as a 2006 team that was shocked in the NCAA regionals. Stubbs was the number 32 overall prospect in his high school class, but the Atlanta, Texas native forewent the draft to play for Augie Garrido's team.

Stubbs never hit under .300 during his three years in Austin. He had a rare combination of speed and power, as he is in top 10 all-time for Texas career steals (86) and homers (31). He was the co-Big 12 Player of the Year in 2006, and a Golden Spikes Award finalist in the same year. Oddly enough, all three of Stubbs' seasons are also in the top eight for most single season strikeouts by a Texas player.

Stubbs was drafted with the 8th overall pick in 2006 to the Cincinnati Reds. Though he was with the Reds organization until 2012, he has played for five different teams in the last three years. However, just because he's an MLB journeyman doesn't mean he hasn't had a successful career. In 2014, Stubbs hit for a solid .289 batting average for the Rockies, and he is now a member of the Texas Rangers. He is currently on the 60-day disabled list for an injured toe, but he has had many clutch hits for the Rangers, including this walk-off home run.

RF: Keith Moreland (1973-1975)

Before he threw his hat into Texas’ recent head coaching search, Keith Moreland was a remarkable player for the Longhorns. The outfielder and occasional third baseman led his team in batting average in every year he played in Austin, and improved his already stellar hitting with every season. His continued success culminated with a .410 average in 1975, the fourth best all-time for a Texas player. His .388 career batting average ranks third for all Texas players, only behind Brian Cisarik (.389), and Dustin Majewski (.395). The Longhorns won the national championship in 1975 thanks to Moreland’s stellar play, and Moreland was an All-American in all three of his seasons at Texas.

Moreland was drafted in the 7th round by the Phillies in 1975. He played 12 seasons in the MLB for five different teams, and won a World Series with the Phillies in 1980.  He retired after the 1989 season, ending with a 121 home run, 1,279 hit career. Since then, he has worked as a color analyst for Texas baseball and football, and as a color analyst for Cubs Radio. He was also an assistant coach for Texas baseball in 1992. A member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame, Moreland’s number three jersey was retired by Texas in 2010.

LF: Bibb Falk (1918-1920)

Though college baseball stats from almost a hundred years ago aren't exactly readily accessible, Bibb Falk left his mark on Texas both as a player and its longtime coach. Falk played both football and baseball at Texas, and lost only seven collegiate games in his three years playing under Billy Disch. He helped Texas to three straight Southwestern Conference Championships as left fielder and pitcher for the Longhorns, and his .400 batting average was the best on the team in 1920.

His talent caught the eye of Chicago White Sox scouts, and Falk would go on to replace "Shoeless" Joe Jackson at left field after a 1919 scandal where Jackson was one of eight White Sox caught throwing the World Series for money. Falk played twelve seasons in the big leagues, and amassed a .314 career batting average.

Falk's legend as Texas coach is well established, especially considering the field the Longhorns play on, "Disch-Falk field", is partially named after him. In his 25-year career as Texas' coach, he coached 20 teams to Southwestern Conference Titles, and also won two national championships. He retired in 1967 with a .727 career win percentage. He is a member of the College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, and the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

DH: Brooks Kieschnick (1991-1993)

Kieschnick is undoubtedly the most versatile Longhorn baseball player of all-time. In addition to playing pretty much every position in the field, Kieschnick was nearly just as strong at pitcher, competing at both the college and professional level. He's at DH in the lineup, but this utility player could've taken nearly any position in the Longhorn best list.

One of the eight Texas players in the College Baseball Hall of Fame, Kieschnick won National Player of the Year honors in 1993, leading the Longhorns to a College World Series appearance. His number 23 jersey is retired by Texas, and it’s easy to see why -- he was Texas’ best hitter and pitcher in every season he played with the Longhorns. In 1993, Kieschnick hit .374, and also honed a 3.24 ERA. He is tied for third all-time for Texas single season home runs with 19 in 1993, and is sixth all-time for Texas single season wins, with 16 in the same year. His career .676 slugging percentage is second in Texas baseball history, and he’s third in Texas career RBI’s, home runs, and total bases. He was taken 10th overall by the Chicago Cubs in 1993.

Though Kieschnick had perhaps the most illustrious career in Texas baseball history, his pro career was decent, but didn’t live up to his college hype. Kieschnick’s combined pitching and hitting made him a ridiculous talent in college, but in the pros, it’s better to be elite in either pitching or hitting than very good at both. He played 260 games in the majors for four teams in six years, amassing 16 home runs and 46 RBI’s. He also went 2-2 as a pitcher. After retiring in 2004, Kieschnick now owns a bar in San Antonio called the "Alamo Ice House".

Weekend starters: Burt Hooton (1969-1971)

The man nicknamed "Happy" by Tommy Lasorda because he rarely smiled headlines a list of phenomenal Texas pitchers over the years. Hooton had a win-loss record of 35-3 in his three seasons at Texas, and helped new coach Cliff Gustafson commence a winning tradition which would last until he retired in 1996. He holds the lowest career earned run average in Longhorn history, with a 1.14 ERA. He once struck out 19 batters in a game which is tied for Texas best, and Hooton's opponents only batted .158 against him in his career, which is also the best all-time for a Texas pitcher. Hooton's 13 career shutouts are one shy of the NCAA record (held by Greg Swindell, also a Longhorn).

Hooton was taken second overall by the Cubs in the 1971 MLB draft, which is still tied for the best pick a Longhorn has ever been in the draft. He had a productive MLB career, highlighted by a 1981 season in which he was an MLB All-Stars, NLCS MVP, and World Series champion. However, before these accolades with the Dodgers, Hooton had a no-hitter for the Cubs in just the fourth pro game he ever pitched.

Hooton retired from the pros in 1985. An obvious first team All-American in each of his seasons in burnt orange, Hooton's number 20 has been retired by Texas, and he was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008. The 66-year old who once was an assistant for the Longhorns now is the pitching coach for the single-A Fort Wayne TinCaps.

Greg Swindell (1984-1986)

There were many great Texas pitchers in the 1980s, but Greg Swindell may have been the best. The Fort Worth native's 501 career strikeouts are a Longhorn best, and as previously mentioned, his 14 career shutouts are an NCAA record. Swindell's 1.92 career ERA is nothing to scoff at either. Amassing 43 wins in his three years at Texas, the 1985 National Player of the Year certainly earned his College Baseball Hall of Fame honors, and also earned being drafted second overall by the Cleveland Indians in 1986.

Swindell's MLB career may not have been as memorable as Roger Clemens', but the lefty was able to last a fruitful 17 years in the big leagues nonetheless. His career was highlighted by an All-Star 1989 season in which he posted a 3.37 ERA, and 129 strikeouts in 189.1 innings pitched. In 2001, the then 37-year old Swindell won a World Series with the Diamondbacks before retiring in 2002. Swindell is now an influential media figure in Texas Longhorns baseball, serving as an color commentator for the Longhorn Network,

Taylor Jungmann (2009-2011)

It was very difficult picking Taylor Jungmann over College Baseball Hall of Famers Richard Wortham (1973-1976) and Kirk Dressendorfer (1988-1990). However, what Jungmann was able to accomplish at Texas is on par with the two legends in a time where the competition was much less top heavy. Though 2011 was the beginning of the "dead bat era", Jungmann excelled before this, when teams were averaging nearly a home run and seven total runs a game. The last legendary arm of the Augie Garrido era posted a career ERA of 1.85 and an opponent batting average of .188, both top seven marks in Longhorn history. He was also the Dick Howser National Player of the Year in 2011, just the third Texas player to receive the trophy. A freshman All-American in 2009 and a first team All-American in 2010 and 2011, Jungmann led the Longhorns to a College World Series runner-up in 2009, a Big 12 championship in 2010, and a College World Series appearance in 2011. With his decision to go pro came the end of Texas' prosperity, as Garrido's team missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998 the year after Jungmann departed for the pros.

Jungmann was drafted 12th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011. The most recent Longhorn on this list is still young in his MLB career, as he was first called up to the majors in 2015. He had a complete game in his rookie season, and boasted an ERA of 3.77 in his first year in the bigs. However, Jungmann has endured a sophomore slump in 2016, as the 6'6 righty is 0-4 with a 9.15 ERA after winning nine games in his rookie campaign.

Weekday pitcher: Roger Clemens (1982-1983)

Though there are Texas players who had better statistics, none left an imprint as great as Roger Clemens did. Clemens actually pitched his first year at San Jacinto North community college, where he accumulated enough success to transfer to Cliff Gustafson's team. Oddly enough, Clemens wasn't even the best pitcher on the roster for the couple of golden years he was at the 40 acres. In 1982, Clemens had a an ERA under 2, but Kirk Killingsworth had a Longhorn record .80 ERA. On the 1983 National Championship team, Calvin Schiraldi, Kirk Killingsworth, and Mike Capel all statistically performed stronger than him. Still, it would be a disservice to leave the Rocket off this list.

Clemens was drafted with the 19th pick of the 1983 draft by the Boston Red Sox and the rest is history. Seven Cy Youngs, 11 All-Star games, and two World Series victories later, the Rocket became the first Texas baseball player to have his number retired. Now, Clemens has two sons following in his footsteps and playing baseball at Texas. Kody and Kacy Clemens look to be two anchors on the roster for David Pierce's team next year.

Closer: Huston Street (2002-2004)

Huston Street is one of the few Texas pitchers who was one of the top closers at both the college and MLB level. Street's 41 saves at Texas surpasses anyone else in Longhorn history, and his career 1.31 ERA is second only to Burt Hooton all-time for Texas. Though many pitchers in college prefer to be a weekend starter instead of a closer, Street embraced his role of being the guy to call on to finish the game out. He was even the College World Series MVP in 2002 when he helped the Longhorns close a national title.

The son of fellow Texas pitching legend James Street, Huston was a freshman All-American, second team All-American, and first team All-American in his collegiate career. He was taken 40th overall in the MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics, and would go on to be the AL Rookie of the Year, a  two time All-Star, and a member of the 300 save club. Now 32-years old, the Austin native has posted a career worst 4.67 ERA for the struggling Angels, this year but he still remains one of the better closers of the last decade.

* * *

As for the coach of this team, there would be plenty of options. However, continuing the trend of the requirement that he must be both a Texas and MLB player, Augie Garrido would be eliminated since he never suited up for Texas, and Cliff Gustafson would also not be considered since he never played pro ball. Furthermore, Bibb Falk is already in the outfield and Billy Disch was only a scout at the big league level.

That leaves two great choices -- Wayne Graham (1956) and Ron Gardenhire (1977-1979). Both have unique histories playing for Texas: Graham was a member of the worst Texas baseball team of all-time in 1956 (5-13), but has shown he knows how to win as the legendary coach at Rice. Ron Gardenhire holds the record for most Longhorn RBI's in a game with 10 in a 1978 game against Arkansas, and won the World Series while on the coaching staff with the Twins in 1991. They can be co-coaches.

So there you have it -- a list of the 15 best Longhorns ever at the college level who also represented Texas in the big leagues as well. This roster obviously left out several legendary players, from All-American outfielder Calvin Murray (1990-1992), to Texas Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Murray Wall (1947-1950). However, college baseball teams can have as many as 35 players, so feel free to fill out the 20 other roster members I left out in the comments.