Who cracks Texas baseball's all-time starting nine?
The Texas Longhorns have one of the most accomplished college baseball programs in the country with six national championships and a half-dozen runner-up finishes. There have obviously been some incredible teams in Texas' past but just imagine the nine-player lineup the Longhorns could assemble across their all-time roster. We did just that, scanning through the school's record book and picking out a player for each position to craft Texas' all-time starting nine.
1. Left field – Calvin Murray (1990-92)
Murray left Austin, Tex., as the program's career leader in steals with 139. Remarkably, he holds Texas' best (49), second-best (47), and third-best (43) single-season steals totals. So if the Longhorns want a speed component to their all-time lineup — which they probably should — Murray is the best choice. But he wasn't a one-trick pony at Texas.
Murray hit a team-best .351 in 1992, drew 127 career walks (ninth-best career total in Texas history), recorded 14 triples in college and scored 197 runs in his career. Few players were better at getting on base, stealing bags and ultimately scoring, making Murray a valuable offensive addition to Texas' all-time starting nine and a key hitter at the top of the batting order.
2. Second base – Bill Bates (1983-85)
Tim Moss (2001-03) and David Tollison (1998-90) both had strong cases to occupy second base but we went with Bill Bates, whose name appears in the Texas baseball record book 32 times. He set the record for most triples in a career (20) and most runs in a season (100). As a freshman, Bates made the All-Tournament Team in the College World Series as the Longhorns won the national championship.
Bates is second in career runs scored with 238, tied for fourth in steals with 86, and eighth in doubles with 54. He's fifth all-time in total bases in a season (175), tied for sixth in walks (69), and eighth in stolen bases (36).
Defensively, his 237 assists in 1984 are the third-most in a season in Texas history.
From his ability to provide extra-base hits, patient at-bats, speed on the base paths and a solid glove, Bates was a five-tool player.
3. Center field – Drew Stubbs (2004-06)
This was a tough call between Stubbs and Mark Payton (2011-14). Payton is one of the most prominent figures in Texas baseball history, starting in all of his 234 career games (second-most all-time), hitting 19 triples, drawing 148 walks and hitting a ridiculous, team-high .393 in 2013. He ranks ahead of Stubbs in several statistical categories. However, Stubbs provides a unique speed and power component in center field, plus he was a member of Texas' 2005 national championship team.
We start with two-time All-American, a member of the '05 Championship team & current Colorado Rockies OF Drew Stubbs. pic.twitter.com/S4g8VC9vlK— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) January 22, 2014
Despite holding three of Texas' top nine spots in terms of most strikeouts for a batter in a single season, Stubbs recorded 92 extra-base hits, slugged .525 in his career, hit 31 career home runs (sixth all-time), scored 183 runs and once had a 19-game hitting streak. Even with his power streak, Stubbs was capable of advancing the runner with sacrifice bunts, making him dangerous in the batting order behind Murray and Bates, and he was a proven base-stealer himself, swiping 86 bags in his career.
4. Right field – Kyle Russell (2006-08)
Russell holds Texas' single-season program record for home runs — 28 in 2007 — which is eight more than the second-best power-hitting season in Longhorns history. He also has the school's third-best mark of 19, which he hit the following season, showing his power was not a fluke. Russell finished his college career in Austin with 57 dingers which, you guessed it, is also a Texas record.
His .807 slugging percentage in 2007 is the second-best percentage in team history, only behind Tom Hamilton's .878 slugging percentage in 1949 that was set prior to the formation of Texas' historical records in 1960. While Russell was prone to striking out (his 64 strikeouts in 2007 was the fifth-most single-season total for a Texas player), he was arguably the greatest power hitter in Texas history and more than deserving of a spot in the Longhorns' all-time starting nine.
5. First base – Jeff Ontiveros (1999-2002)
With consideration also given to Brian Cisarik, Danny Peoples and John Langerhans, we went with Ontiveros, Texas' career leader in games played, games started, at-bats and total bases.
It's fitting that we put Ontiveros one spot behind Kyle Russell in this hypothetical batting order since Russell is the Longhorns' leader in both single-season and career home runs and Ontiveros is second in both categories with 20 home runs in 2002 and 55 dingers in his career. His 184 runs scored in his career rank eighth in program history.
Defensively, he has three of the top eight single-season double plays turned totals, making him a reliable fielder at first base.
6. Third base – David Denny (1982-85)
After also considering Keith Moreland and David Chalk, we went with Denny, who is Texas' leader in career hits (296), doubles (78) and RBIs (228). He hit .334 for his career, including a team-high .343 in 1984, and helped Texas win the '83 title.
Denny knocked in 99 runs in 1985, the second-best single-season total for a Longhorn, and he's fourth all-time in career runs.
7. Catcher – Rick Bradley (1973-75)
Bradley's 1974 season was one for the record books. He ranks 10th all-time in both single-season batting average (.397) and slugging percentage (.692). His career ranks in those categories are even higher, placing him eighth all-time in batting average and ninth in slugging.
The catcher also recorded the second-longest hitting streak in Longhorns history after getting a hit in 24 games in row. Few players in Texas history could match Bradley's ability to his for average and power.
8. Shortstop – Kip Harkrider (1995-97)
This was another highly contested roster spot with Seth Johnston, Omar Quintanilla, Coby Kerlin and Spike Owen also warranting consideration. Harkrider led Texas in batting average in 1996 and 1997, hitting .381 and .376, respectively. In 1995, he recorded a team-high 95 RBIs, the most by a Longhorn player since 1989.
Harkrider has the 11th-best career batting average at Texas and he's seventh all-time in runs scored. Defensively, he's fourth in assists.
9. Pitcher – Richard Wortham (1973-76)
Before anyone gets too upset at this decision, this may have been the toughest position to determine. Several former Longhorns had very strong cases, including the legendary Roger Clemens, who eventually had a national college baseball award named after him that was given annually to the best Division I pitcher.
Clemens, Burt Hooton, Greg Swindell, Kirk Dressendorfer and Bobby Layne are all strong candidates to be Texas' all-time starting nine pitcher, but we're going with Wortham, who held opponents to a .173 batting average and went 11-0 as a freshman, threw a four-hitter to win the College World Series as a junior, and finished his time in Austin ranked first in career wins (50) and second in strikeouts (481).
Because of his repeated single-season excellence, performance on the sport's biggest stage and his overall career numbers, Wortham is our pick.
Coach – Augie Garrido (1997-2016)
Garrido became the winningest coach in NCAA Division I baseball history in 2003 and 11 years later became the winningest coach across every division of college baseball. The six-time national coach of the year won five national championships between his tenures at Cal State Fullerton and Texas.
He led Texas to 15 NCAA Regional Championship appearances and an overall record of 824-427-2 (.656).