OMAHA—Steve Arlin cherishes the College World Series memories he made pitching for Ohio State more than those he made in the major leagues. While Bob Horner treasures his CWS memories as a second baseman for Arizona State, Horner can accept turning out the lights at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Arlin and Horner were among the 28-man CWS Legends Team—25 players and three coaches—announced last month by the NCAA. Seventeen of the players gathered for a picture and were introduced at Friday night’s opening ceremonies. Several players—as well as coaches Augie Garrido and Skip Bertman—stopped by the stadium before Saturday’s games to share some memories.
Arlin was a righthander who helped the Buckeyes to back-to-back CWS appearances in 1965-66. He still remembers coming to the ballpark for the first time with the team. Said Arlin: “We were driving up, the lights were on, it was an evening game, Rosenblatt was sitting up way on a hill. It was like Mount Olympus to us.”
In 1965, Arlin pitched in one of the more memorable games in CWS history, a 15-inning, 1-0 Ohio State win over Washington State. Arlin pitched all 15 innings for the Buckeyes and struck out 20 batters. Both remain CWS records. Ohio State finished runner-up in 1965. Arlin was selected Most Outstanding Player in 1966 when the Buckeyes won the national championship.
Arlin, a retired dentist who lives in San Diego, said he remembers college more fondly than his six-year major league career.
“I treasure the college days a lot more that I do the pro days because of the experience we had, and the winning experience especially,” he said. “I was with San Diego when it was an expansion team (in 1969) . . . I lost 19 games one year and 21 games another with earned run averages of 3.40. You have a 3.40 these days and that’s saying something. We knew we were going to lose, we knew we were going to get pinch-hit for in the seventh inning because we didn’t have any runs, we knew they weren’t going to catch the ball behind us. None of that happened in college . . . It was really apples and oranges.”
Horner, who spent most of his 11-year major league career with the Braves, played on Arizona State teams that went to Omaha three straight years. The Sun Devils won the 1977 national championship—Horner was selected Most Outstanding Player—and finished runner-up in 1978, when Horner was named the winner of the inaugural Golden Spikes Award. He is among those saddened that Rosenblatt Stadium will give way next year to a downtown stadium, but is accepting of change.
“The guys who played here have mixed emotions,” said Horner. “The old girl’s going away. They’re building a great, brand-new, beautiful ballpark. And I know times change. Most of the guys who play in next year’s College World Series will have never played here. But for the guys who have played here it’s going to be a little bit sad.”
In the years since his retirement, Horner learned nothing lasts forever.
“Professionally, there are only two ballparks left (Dodger Stadium and Wrigley Field) from when I was playing in the National League,” said Horner. “Unfortunately, they blew up (Atlanta’s) Fulton County Stadium. And this one’s going the way of the dodo, too. Times change.”
Horner said it is more than the stadium that made coming to Omaha so special.
“The people of Omaha is what makes this place what it is,” said Horner. “The civic groups that get involved that handle the individual teams. The way the people just kind of flock around this ballpark. I’m sure they will at the next one. This has been a great place. I’m sad to see it leave this ballpark. But the new one over there looks pretty special down there, too.”