1956 NCAA Champions
The 2006 season marked the 50th anniversary of Minnesota's first baseball national championship.
The 1956 team won nine of 11 NCAA Tournament games en route to claiming the first of three national crowns.
Quoting the Champs
Head coach Dick Siebert and captain Bill Horning receive the national championship trophy. Horning had two home runs and five RBI in the championship game against Arizona.
Gene Martin slides into the plate during the World Series |
"I remember the final game against Arizona in the College World Series. They had beaten us the previous day to set up an elimination game. Jerry (Thomas) came out and pitched a great game for us, and Bill (Horning) had a great hitting night. I remember starting in left field in that game and getting ejected for sliding hard into home plate. That was frustrating, but it was such an exciting experience to win the College World Series. We were a close and very unique group of guys. The 1956 team was a great group of players coached by an excellent manager in Dick Siebert."
"Winning the College World Series was a thrill of a lifetime. That team did everything well. We hit could get the big hit, we were fast, fielded the ball well, pitched well and could hit for power. We had a lot of confidence that season. After we won the Big Ten, our goal was to get to Omaha. I remember the first game of the NCAA Tournament we lost in extra innings to Notre Dame. We went through the motions in that game and paid for it. It was the only time I really saw Dick Siebert get after us for not playing well. We responded in a big way, by scoring 25 runs and the next day and kept rolling into the College World Series."
"The 1956 College World Series championship run was one of the great experiences of my life. I remember so much of it vividly. It was a terrific team coached by a great manger in Dick Siebert. We had a lot of experience and leadership on the team. We were a team that could win in many different ways, but it primarily started with defense and pitching, and a big part of that was Jerry Thomas who ended up being the MVP of the College World Series. The Big Ten was a very tough conference that year and it prepared us very well for the postseason. I still remember hitting a two-run homer in the top of the ninth against Ohio to put us ahead 7-6 in the NCAA District Playoffs. Jerry (Thomas) was not schedule to pitch, but came in for the ninth inning to nail down the win to send us to the College World Series. The College World Series championship was such a great thrill for me, because I was from Minnesota and I always dreamed of playing for the program under Dick Siebert. Everything I learned in baseball was from my father and Siebert. I always tried to coach like Siebert did throughout my career."