A trip to the College World Series by the '08 Noles merits a rare baseball tribute here on G&G. We rewind to 38 years ago, back when Florida State's 1970 team came the closest ever to bringing home a national title. FSU played Southern Cal in the championship game, taking the Trojans 15 innings before Frank Alfano's bases loaded infield single broke the 1 - 1 deadlock.
Johnny Grubb was the Centerfielder on that '70 team. Grubb, who went on to play 16 years in the majors, told us it's a game he'll never forget.
"It was a heartbreaker, because we were leading 1 - 0 and had Pat Osburn pitching for us, a real good lefthanded pitcher. We just battled all the way through, and they happened to tie the game up and brought in Jim Barr, and we had our relief pitcher, Mac Scarce -- both of whom went on to pitch in the majors. And we hooked up 1 - 1 until the 15th inning*. They made a lot of good plays and we made a lot of good plays, but they ended up beating us 2 - 1. I remember standing on the first base line receiving the awards for second place and none of us were very happy about it. I think we should have won it, but we gave it a good battle.
"We got a fantastic reception when we came back, with a police escort and everything. As a young kid it was quite impressive."
Tell us about your Coach, Jack Stallings.
"We had a real good coach in Jack. I think he had played pro baseball so he knew the game and pretty much treated us like pro ball players. He just put us out there and let us play. He was an aggressive coach and we learned a lot from him."
How about some of the key players on that 1970 team?
"We had Mac Scarce out of the bullpen. When we brought him in he was automatic. He'd just shut guys down, and he later pitched in the majors. We had an All-American second baseman, Dick Nichols. There was Ronnie Cash, Harry Saferight, and Doug Kasimier. I'm leaving out guys, but the whole team was excellent and I was real proud to be part of it."
Several of them went on to play in the majors, but so did some of Southern Cal's players.
"Oh, yeah. They had Dave Kingman, Jim Barr and Steve Busby. I'd love to see it on tape because I thought it was one of the best (CWS) games every played."
Have you been following FSU's road to Omaha this year?
"I've been watching them on TV and pulling for them. I was real happy they advanced on to Omaha and it looks like they have a real good offensive team, and I'm impressed with some of the pitchers. Mike Martin's done a real good job with them. They look like a real good ball club. I wish them well. Hopefully they can take it all the way and win one for Florida State."
*Carl Gromek had to relieve Mac Scarce in the 15th inning because Scarce had a blister on his index finger. Had the Noles ace reliever been able to stay in the game, who knows how it might have turned out.