The Michigan Qaiy-Wednesday, March 30, 1988- Page 9
MICHIGAN BASEBALL 1988
Michigan armed for '88 success
1987 MICHIGAN BASEBALL STATISTICS
Overall 52-12, Big Ten Champs 13-3
BY MICHAEL SALINSKY
When Michigan, ranked as high
as No. 2 preseason, lost five straight
games after only winning one earlier
this month, some Michigan fans
began to get a little nervous.
If ten straight wins since then
aren't a sufficient tranquilizer for
those nerves, consider these facts:
-All 13 of the Wolverines who
had over 11 at bats last year return.
That Michigan team batted .315 for
-Only three pitchers from last
year's staff are not returning and
those three only started six games
last year. The 1987 staff was second
in the Big Ten in ERA. For the sea-
son, it struck out 399 batters in 460
-FINALLY, the last time a
Michigan squad lost five straight
was in 1984, also on a Texas spring
trip. That season the Wolverines
finished third in the College World
Series and captured their ninth Big
Ten title since 1975.
Such a high return rate from last
year's- 52-12 team should convince
anyone that Michigan should be top-
notch. Head coach Bud Middaugh,
however, is very cautious in his op-
"We had an awful lot of breaks
last year," says Middaugh. "If you
look at our season, we weren't anni-
hilating teams." The Wolverines
won exactly half of their games by
three runs or less.
Middaugh's suggestion is that if
the breaks start to go the other way,
things could be different for Michi-
gan this year.
A GOOD team, especially a
good pitching team, though, wins
those close games and there is no
reason to think that Michigan won't
be a good pitching team. Some ob-
servers think the Wolverines may
have one of the top staffs in the na-
"They have so much pitching,"
says Indiana head coach Bob Mor-
gan, "They've got so much depth."
Jim Abbott, winner of the Sulli-
van Award as amateur athlete of the
year, is the glamour pitcher for the
Wolverines but the staff is strong
throughout. Mike Ignasiak may be
the real ace of the staff.
Middaugh, who doesn't praise his
team lightly, can't help it when he's
talking about his staff. "I like my
pitchers," says the ninth-year coach.
He adds, though, "They're going to
have to get better, like any staff
THE REST of the team is also
stocked with weapons. Infielders
Steve Finken and Bill St. Peter and
outfielder Jim Durham all earned Big
Ten honors last year.
Those three are all on Michigan's
top ten all-time stolen base list, and
that says a lot about this year's edi-
tion of the Wolverines. Last year
marked the first time since 1980 that
no Wolverine had reached double
digits in home runs and there's no
reason to think that this season will
be dramatically different.
But the 1987 Wolverines were
also a team that had 114 more stolen
bases than their opponents. The
Wolverines stole 164 in 212 at-
"They have A LOT of speed,"
says Indiana's Morgan. "You got to
keep their guys off the bases."
MICHIGAN'S Texas oppo-
nents had some help in slowing
down the Wolverines, when Durham
and infielder Chris Gagin (15 SB)
went down with injuries. Matters
weren't helped when Greg McMurtry
(16 SB) was called back to Ann Ar-
bor for spring football practice.
McMurtry will be available for all
the remaining games and Gagin
should be back this weekend.
Durham's injury is more serious.
A number of injuries and the
chance that the 'breaks' may start to
go the other way leave Middaugh's
view of the Big Ten race uncertain.
"A lot of teams can win the Big
Ten this year." says Middaugh,
"Nobody's going to run away with
Others aren't so hesitant to cast
Michigan as the front-runner.
"Michigan, and then Minnesota, are
the two top dogs," says Morgan.
While Minnesota, in the West Divi-
sion of the Big Ten, poses a definite
challenge, there is also a potential
threat in Michigan's own East Divi-
PURDUE got a taste of success
in 1987, making its first NCAA
tournament appearance after finish-
ing second to the Wolverines in the
Purdue coach Dave Alexander
points to his pitchers as the team
strength. The Boilermakers will have
to successfully replace five offensive
starters to make a serious run at
Michigan. "We'll have to manufac-
ture runs rather than score them in
bunches," says Alexander.
Michigan's conference slate be-
gins this weekend at Northwestern.
Coach Middaugh isn't so much
worried about the competition as he
is concerned with his own team. "I
just try to take care of our own
thing," says Middaugh.
If Middaugh takes good care of
the great Wolverine talent, and if the
breaks don't start eluding the
Wolverines, there's no limit to how
far the 1988 Michigan squad can go.
Bill St. Peter
* Dan Michaels
0.00 0 .
* Denotes player not returning
Ray Fisher stadium experience
is simply something special
By MICHAEL SALINSKY
Perhaps the most common question asked
about Ray Fisher Stadium, the home of the
Wolverines, is, "Where the heck is it?"
Such ignorance is understandable. After all,
college baseball doesn't enjoy the same popu-
larity as the 'Big Three' - hockey, basket-
ball, and football. Also, unlike other venues,
Fisher stadium is tucked inside the athletic
campus - behind Yost Arena to be exact.
Those who have never been to Fisher Sta-
dium have missed out on a special Michigan
experience. First, they have missed the chance
to see quality college baseball and future ma-
jor-leaguers in a stadium that is, in itself,
IT HOLDS 4,500 spectators, most in the
Big Ten, and its full enclosement creates a real
crowd atmosphere as well as making Fisher a
fine site for NCAA regionals.
By never going to Fisher, one also misses
the history that surrounds the place. By all
accounts, a baseball field has been on the site
forever, maybe even earlier than 1860 when
baseball became Michigan's first varsity
sport. The stands were erected right behind the
old football stadium that used to be between
Fisher and the IM Building.
The stadium, once Ferry Field, became Ray
Fisher Stadium in May of 1970, which brings
us to the second most-asked question about
the stadium: "Who was Ray Fisher?"
FISHER was by far the winningest base-
ball coach in Michigan history, compiling
637 wins between 1921 and and 1958. He led
Michigan to its only National Championship,
Fisher won 102 games as a major leaguer
for the Reds and Yankees, and had a brilliant
2.38 ERA. He won successive world champi-
onships with the Reds in 1919 and 1920.
The story of how Fisher became Michigan
coach is a fascinating one. Involved in a salary
dispute, he left spring training in 1921 to
coach the Wolverines. After the college sea-
son, Fisher wished to return to the Reds. He
was prevented from doing so when commis-
sioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis dubi-
ously banned him from professional baseball
for allegedly violating his contract.
-Sports Information photo
Ray Fisher stadium, home of the Michigan Wolverines, has provided baseball enjoyment
for thousands and thousands of fans over the years.
.. . as a Yankee
By RICHARD EISEN
With Michigan baseball coach Bud Middaugh, you
never know who might start in the infield for the
"It's got to be an everyday situation as to whether
they play or not," said Middaugh. "It's everyday on
what position they play."
It's not only that way for the
infielders, however. It's that way.
for the rest of his team, as well.
But infielders should take heed to
Middaugh's statement the most, for
Middaugh has more options in the
infield than anywhere else.
CURRENTLY, the most
scrambled slot in the infield is at
second base. At the ,beginning of
the season, it seemed as if sopho-
more Chris Gagin would see the
most time at the position. Gagin
split 49 games at both second and
shortstop last year, batting .235
with 15 stolen bases.
But in the March 13th game
against Texas, Gagin hurt his knee,
leaving the second base spot wide St
id the horn
Talented left to right
leading the Wolverines in hitting last year with a
.387 average. Last year, Price also led Michigan in
home runs with nine.
Price, however, might be moved around this year
because of the arrival of rookie Greg Haeger. Haeger
lettered in three different sports in high school, and is
just as versatile on the baseball field.
- Haeger not only batted .387
with five homers and 39 RBIs for
his high schoolsteam, but was the
best pitcher on the team as well
with a 2.00 ERA. According to
Middaugh, newcomer Dan Ruff
who played first base against Grand
Valley last week, will be primarily
used as a DH. Also a possibility at
first base is junior John Ansted.
UNLIKE the right side of the
infield, the left side seems orga-
nized. At third base, there.is the old
mainstay, Bill St. Peter. St. Pe-
ter,who led the team in RBIs last
year with 52, also could be used at
the shortstop spot.
theAnother can date at third base is
utility sophomore Rich Sampliski.
Peter As an outfielder last year, Sam-
By PETER ZELLEN
Coach Bud Middaugh has a problem every time he
has to fill out the line-up card. Who is going to play
where in the outfield?
For the 1988 season, the Michigan baseball team
has several candidates to patrol the walls of Ray
Fisher Stadium. The tough part is giving each of
them enough playing time.
The two that will see the most
action will most likely be Greg
McMurtry and Tom Brock. f
MCMUR T R Y is the speedy
centerfielder that can often solidify
an outfield. A first round pick of
his hometown Boston Red Sox,
McMurtry joined the Wolverines
with a bang in his first year. He
batted .299 with 39 ribbies as well
as 16 stolen bases in 21 attempts.
Michigan hopes for some big
numbers from this excellent athlete,
but he has started with a .100 bat-
ting average. His excellent fielding,
however, has kept him in the ev-
eryday line-up. McMurtry started
Leftfield seems to be something of an enigma for
the Wolverines. There are several players capable of
filling the position, but no one of them stands out
above the rest. This group is led by the veteran, Eddie
Woolwine. Constantly hampered by injuries, he has
never played more than 45 games in a season.
Even with the health problems,
Woolwine has a .326 career average
going into his senior season and he
led all Michigan outfielders with a
1.000 fielding percentage last year.
He is currently out with hamstring
ANOTHER experienced player
is junior Kourtney Thompson. In
1987, he hit .337 with four homers
'VI, and 27 RBIs in only 86 at bats.
Thompson also drew 26 walks, so
getting on base doesn't seem to be
much of a problem for him.
Fielding, however, has proven to
be Thompson's weakness. He had a
low .818 fielding average, last year.
On the horizon, there seems to
rock be a youngster that is hitting his