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August 27, 1968 - Image 29

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1968-08-27

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Tuesday, August 27

1968

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Pros undercut young diamond squad .||||..||

r
t

By ROBIN WRIGHT
Fate collided with the 19681
Michigan baseball team.
The unpredictable - rain and
the professional draft - forced
the Wolverines to yield the '68
title.
The season opened on an un-
lucky note as Chief Hurler-on-
the-mound Geoff Zahn was swiped
by ,the 'Los Angeles, Dodgers. A
young and unproven pitching staff
was left to try and fulfill bright
pre-season predictions..
Weather then permanently
dampened any title hopes, as the
Michigan club was cheated out of
the final weekend - of games.
The post-season pro draft came
back to hit Michigan for a third
loss. ,

Five Wolverines - including ranked Michigan State in two
four pitchers - were tapped by single games, 4-1, 4-2.
major league clubs. Two sopho- Michigan thickened its slim win
more stars accepted the call and record to six by smothering De-
cut loose from the restrictions of troit in three confrontations.
college ball to go for the big Steady pitching and power hit-
money. ting became keys to Wolverine
SEASON WRAP-UP victory as they yielded only the
Arizona sun on the annual last game in a set of double-
eight-day, ten-game spring trip headers against Ohio State and
brought only dreariness to Wol- Indiana.
veries as they burned through The arms of Dave Renkiewicz
nine consecutive losses before t- and Steve Evans blended with the
taning a single victory. r talents of hitters - Captain Doug
Nelson and outfielder Elliott Mad-
The loss of Zahn seemed to dox -- to keep the team one-half
have permanently damaged the game ahead of antagonists Wis-
team's chances. consin and Minnesota.
Home proved to be happiness A discouraging 8-1 loss in non-
and victory as the Michigan club conference action against West-
debuted by pushing aside top- ern triggered a losing streak that
was to cost the Wolverines the
Big Ten title.
Lack of run-producers was the
source of a double setback at
Wisconsin, when 19 men were left
stranded on base. The. weekend
produced additional agony when
the Michigan club split with
Northwestern.

On strategy, Benedict explained,
"We believe pitching is 85% of
the game, and we build our teams
around that philosophy.
"Pitching and defense were the
key to our wins. The Michigan
club is not a 14-4 type scoring
team.,
"As a rule, defense is constant
and reliable, whereas hifing
varies. Even the best hitter can
get into a slump that might last
two weeks. Where does that leave
the team?"
Pro scouts and major league
teams must also have observed
strength in the Michigan mound
crew, as four of the five major
pitchers were singled out for pro
offers.
A fifth Michigan man, sopho-
more Elliott Maddox, who nabbed
the Big Ten batting crown with a
season overall .467, was the only
fielder to be offered a contract.
Outfielder and the 1968 most
valuable player, Maddox "found
the offer too hard to turn down"
and signed a contract with the
Tigers.
Maddox pointed out the pros,
strongest argument in winning
over a college player when he re-
marked, "Now I've fulfilled my
dream of joining the major

leagues, while at the same tiie
being able to finish school. it's
a great deal."
Pitcher Steve Evans, (4-4) who
signed with the St. Louis Cardin-
als, agreed with Maddox's logic.
"It's the wisest mo-e -if base-
ball is to be a serious life profes-
sion. By practicing professional
style now, I have a chance to
reach my peak earlier and keep
it longer,/
"If I continued in college ball,
I could throw my arm out or in-
jure myself, wiping out any
chances to perform on the pro
level."
Both Maddox andi Evans were
the first draft choices of their
respective teams.
Both are also being allowed to
return as full-time students this
fall.
Other drafted Wolverines in-
volve the rest of the Michigan
pitching staff Renkiewicz, Jack
Hurley and Gerry, Christman.
Finishing his second season with
a five-win and five-loss record,
Renkiewicz was drafted for the
second time in his career by the
Chicago White Sox.
Jack Hurley (3-4) a junior with
excellent control over both ball
and bat, was_ offered a chance

DROP TO THIRD
The consequences were heavy as
Minnesota grabbed a three game
lead over Michigan, which sank
to a disheartening third place.
What turned out to be the last
weekend of baseball for the club
saw the Wolverines almost snooze
through a set of lackluster games
against last-place Purdue.
Splitting a Saturday double-
header (which appeared to be a
Wolverine fad) against the Illini
further deflated title hopes.
Rain cost the team two double-
headers at Iowa and Minnesota
and knocked the team down to
an automatic fourth place, with
a 17-win and 15-loss record over-
all.
Minnesota, a team that" regu-
larly cleans up in the Big Ten
and the NCAA's on election years,
only partially fulfilled the quad-
rennial habit.
Picking up the conference title
with a 14-2 record, the Gophers
were humbled by Ohio University
in the semi-finals to eliminate
any participation in finalist ac-
tivity.
Southern California - a team
that mopped up in sports last
year - went on to win the NCAA
crown.
DEFENSE IMPORTANT
Coach Moby Benedict felt Mich-
igan had a strong enough team
to win big in the Big Ten. Despite
minor disappointments, he felt the
Wolverines fulfilled his expecta-
tions.

i
r

A PAIR OF BATTING CHAMPS crosses the plate in a sweep of a doubleheader with Purdue. Andy
Fisher (front), the '67 winner with a :459 mark, slipped thisseason'to an unimpressive .208. Elliott
Maddox was the surprise of the year, soaring to the conference batting title and the Ray Fisher

most valuable player award.
to join teammate Maddox in the
Tiger system.
Like Renkiewicz, southpaw
Gerry Chrisman was redrafted by
the San Francisco Giants.
Assistant coach Dick Honig,
who was a Michigan regular until
graduation in 1963, commented
on the losses.'

solid hitting, we were unable to
knock in the runs.
"When you consider a very
positive freshman team, which
should prove- to fill our weaker
spots, we could do very well.
"The loss of Maddox and Evansj
will definitely affect the club, but
we were able, to adjust to the.
loss of Zahn. Besides, we have
two excellent pitchers returning,
in Renkiewicz and Hurley.
Regular members of the squad

assembl in the fall for workouts
and a fall scrimmage.
Interested freshmen are invited
to join the team for spring prac-
tice in early February.
Among the frosh coming up
for a shot at the varsity are Tom
Lundstedt, Mike Rafferty and
Dan Fife, who all Starred for the
freshman basketball squad last
year. Lundstedt, a 6'4" catcher,
went four-for-four in a game last
spring against Central.

"Professionalization always de-
pends on the individual 'situation.
There are a lot' of factors in-
volved - money, personal talent
and the draft (army).
"Personally, I never had that
burning desire to sign. I guess it
was a little different when I was
- ' in school."
Despite the loss of valuable
players, Honig voiced enthusiasm
about next year's team.
"We started out last year simi-
4o .-larly inexperienced.
"We finished this season with
only five losses in the conference
- four of which we should have
won. But due to an inability to
JACK HURLEY coordinate good pitching and

PETE TITONE

ELLIOTT MADDOX, Big Ten batting champ in his sophomore
year, displays the big swing that hit for a .467 average. Also the
conference leader in doubles and total bases, he was one of two
Wolverines who elected to abandon college ball for a crack at the
majors. Maddox signed for a healthy bonus with the Detroit
Tigers, while pitcher Steve Evans (see page 1) joined the St.
Louis Cardinals.

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