Sportsball: Husky Baseball Reaches Peak Relevance

When you talk about University of Washington baseball, you have to break out the old Chicago Cubs joke: “Anyone can have a bad century!”

The Huskies have never made the College World Series. 113 other schools have, including all the other Pac-12 schools, four Ivy League schools, and, somehow, Tufts. But not UW.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing about Husky baseball if I expected this 67-year streak to continue. The Dawgs are 24-7, in first place in the Pac-12, and are ranked #6 in the country by Collegiate Baseball News !

But back to that bad century, worth exploring because it has been hilariously bad:

• The first Husky alum to play major league baseball was Royal “Hunky” Shaw, a Yakima-born outfielder. Shaw had just one MLB at-bat . . . and struck out.

• Between 1953 and 1985, only one Husky baseballer made it to the majors.

• So little talent has come through Montlake that if there were a Husky baseball Mount Rushmore, Mike Blowers would be on it.

For decades, UW’s baseball mediocrity was explained away with one word: weather. College baseball season starts just after football season ends. Of course recruits shunned Seattle to play in Tempe or Los Angeles—where would you rather play baseball in February?

Then on June 26, 2006, Oregon State won the College World Series. Suddenly the excuse for decades of failure was negated. Elite baseball players were choosing Corvallis over Seattle. The weather couldn’t have been the reason why.

In 2009, Washington fired its head coach and, for the first time in generations, hired an out-of-stater. The school built a new stadium, which opened last month—the UW’s first with permanent seating and permanent bathrooms rather than bleachers and Porta-Potties.

That new coach, UCLA grad Lindsay Meggs, has used his California ties to build a geographically diverse and talented roster. Under the former regime, the Huskies were sometimes 100 percent Washingtonian. Meggs’ 35-man roster includes 14 Californians, including pitching ace Tyler Davis, who is 7-1 with a 1.38 ERA.

Could this finally be the year the Huskies make the College World Series? First they have to mush through the rest of the conference season, which includes tough series against Wazzu, Oregon State, and UCLA. Then comes the 64-team NCAA tournament. You start in a four-team regional round. If you win that, you play in a best-of-three “super-regional” against the winner of another regional. The eight super-regional winners advance to Omaha for the CWS.

Should the Huskies continue winning, they might get to host the regional round, the last week of May. By then, you really would rather be in Seattle than Tempe.

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