Top 25 Winningest Programs in College Baseball History
The story of college baseball’s history can be told through where its power centers have been geographically. Currently, the Southeast region of the country is king, but that hasn’t always been the case.
In the recent past, the West Coast was considered the center of the college baseball universe. But if you go even further back, you will get to a time when the Big Ten was on top of the sport, and prior to that, as was the case in most collegiate sports, the Ivy League had its time in the limelight.
You can certainly see the shifting geography of the sport in this list of the 25 winningest programs in history. There are some that are higher on the list than you might expect, perhaps because it was a power in a previous era, and there are others further down the list simply because their dominance didn’t come until much later.
How long a program has existed is also a big factor to consider. It doesn’t take an accountant to realize that a program having existed for 140 years or more is going to have a built-in advantage over one that has been around for fewer than 100 years.
Rather than a snapshot of how things are in college baseball right now, this list is a living document that recounts the entire history of the sport.
1. Fordham - 4,627 Wins, 160 seasons
Fordham might seem like an odd name to see atop this list, but consider that it was playing baseball and collecting wins long before most other college baseball programs existed. The NCAA record book counts 160 seasons of baseball for the Rams. With more than 1,000 wins between Fordham and Texas, it’s a safe assumption that the Rams will top this list long into the future.
2. Texas - 3,526 Wins, 124 seasons
With more than 3,500 wins over 124 seasons of baseball, Texas laps every program except Fordham on this list, with more than 500 wins between it and third-place Michigan. Along the way, Texas has collected six national championships and six more runner-up finishes, putting it among the most decorated college baseball programs in history.
3. Michigan - 2,970 Wins, 147 seasons
Like Fordham, Big Ten programs such as Michigan benefit from having played a lot of baseball seasons. The Wolverines have played 147 of them, which helps their standing on this list, but they’ve also been extremely successful for many of those 147 seasons, winning roughly 63% of their games and two national titles.
4. Stanford - 2,956 Wins, 127 seasons
The length of Stanford’s history is similar to Texas, with 127 seasons under its belt. While it made College World Series appearances in 1953 and 1967, most of its national success has come in the modern era, including national titles in 1987 and 1988, and runner-up finishes in 2000, 2001 and 2003.
5. Florida State - 2,936 Wins, 73 seasons
Florida State is a bit of an outlier among the top teams on the list in that it has only played 73 seasons, but thanks to being able to play a large number of games each season in the days before the 56-game limit and its ability to win more than 72% of its contests, it has made up for lost time quickly.
6. Southern California - 2,919 Wins, 126 seasons
It’s not shocking that the program with a record 12 national titles is also among the winningest in history. Obviously, the Trojans have had a lot of standout individual seasons that helped them compile wins quickly, but they also have a lengthy history of 126 seasons from which to draw.
7. Arizona State - 2,910 Wins, 109 seasons
Arizona State has produced some of Major League Baseball’s brightest stars, like Reggie Jackson and Barry Bonds, and has done a lot of winning in its history. The Sun Devils won five national titles, all between 1965 and 1981, and finished second five more times, most recently in 1998.
8. Clemson - 2,891 Wins, 123 seasons
Clemson is in a group with Florida State among the most historically successful and influential college baseball programs without a national title. Over 123 seasons, the Tigers have piled up nearly 3,000 wins and 12 CWS appearances, which are fairly evenly spread through the decades.
9. North Carolina - 2,889 Wins, 131 seasons
North Carolina and Clemson were tied for eighth place on this list coming into the 2020 season, but because the Tigers had two more wins than the Tar Heels in 2020, the latter fell back to ninth. Results suggest that UNC and Clemson are very similar programs, as the Tar Heels have been to the CWS 11 times and haven’t gotten over the hump to win the national title yet, although they did finish second to Oregon State twice in 2006 and 2007.
10. Arizona - 2,871 Wins, 115 seasons
Although it doesn’t always get the recognition that rival Arizona State gets as a historically successful program, Arizona fits the bill. In addition to 2,871 wins over 115 seasons, it has won four national titles, most recently in 2012, finished second four more times and been to the CWS on 17 occasions.
11. Texas A&M - 2,749 Wins, 118 seasons
Though it has a long and successful history that includes conference titles as far back as 1931, Texas A&M has really picked up steam in the modern era, with four of its six CWS trips coming in 1993 or later. Currently, it has been to the NCAA Tournament every year since 2007.
12. Washington State - 2,719 Wins, 123 seasons
With just two NCAA Tournament appearances since 1990, Washington State probably isn’t a name you expect to see here, but the Cougars won a ton of games under Buck Bailey and Chuck “Bobo” Brayton, who combined to coach every WSU team from 1927 to 1994 with the exception of a three-year gap during World War II, when Bailey was in the Navy. Under Bailey and Brayton, the Cougars went to the CWS four times and came one win short of a national title in 1950.
13. Mississippi State - 2,710 Wins, 131 seasons
Mississippi State has undoubtedly made up a lot of ground on this list in the modern era, as its success over the last 40 years, particularly under the legendary Ron Polk, stands up against much of the rest of college baseball. With MSU enjoying another peak now, surpassing Washington State to get into the top dozen on this list is within reach.
14. Oklahoma State - 2,670 Wins, 109 seasons
Although it won a national title in 1959, Oklahoma State’s best run of success came in the 1980s under Gary Ward, when it got to the CWS seven straight times from 1981 to 1987. Then, the Cowboys got there four more times in the 1990s. With its success in the last five years, OSU has been able to push past a group of teams all closely bunched in the middle of this list.
15. Minnesota - 2,668 Wins, 132 seasons
The Gophers have played 132 seasons in their history, but their place on this list isn’t just a result of compiling wins over a long period of time. They have been consistent contenders in the Big Ten throughout the league’s history, and in the 1950s and 1960s, they were one of the best teams in the country, winning three national titles during that time.
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16. Alabama - 2,652 Wins, 127 seasons
Alabama came into 2020 behind Illinois on this list and tied with Miami, but thanks to its quick start to the season, it moved ahead of both. The Crimson Tide have been to the CWS five times, three of which came in the 1990s under Jim Wells, and in both 1983 and 1997, it finished second in the event.
17. Illinois - 2,651 Wins, 141 seasons
Illinois is behind just Fordham and Michigan on this list in terms of number of seasons played in history, with 141 to its name. Taking Fordham out of the equation, Illinois is the only team on this list to never make a CWS appearance, although it has made 12 NCAA Tournaments in its history.
18. Miami - 2,648 Wins, 76 seasons
Miami is similar to Florida State in that it is among the winningest programs in college baseball history despite playing nearly half as many seasons as most of the list. The Hurricanes have won 2,648 games in just 76 seasons, winning four national championships and finishing as the runner-up twice along the way.
19. South Carolina - 2,646 Wins, 128 seasons
The Gamecocks have played 128 seasons, but just about all of their success on the national scene has come in the last 50 years, and their biggest achievements have mostly come in the last 20 years. South Carolina won national titles in 2010 and 2011 after finishing as the runner-up in 1975, 1977 and 2002, and nearly won three in a row before finishing as the runner-up in 2012.
T20. Fresno State - 2,641 Wins, 92 seasons
Fresno State’s crowning achievement came in 2008, when it won the program’s only national championship, but it has a long history of success beyond that season. In 92 seasons, not only have the Bulldogs piled up more than 2,600 wins, but they’ve been to 35 NCAA Tournaments and made four CWS appearances.
T20. Louisiana State - 2,641 Wins, 125 seasons
Tied for 21st might seem low for a program with six national titles to its name, but it’s important to remember that Louisiana State’s history as a nationally-relevant baseball program really only began when Skip Bertman took over ahead of the 1984 season. Since then, it has consistently won tons of games, but it has had to do a lot of catching up to get to this point.
22. California - 2,639 Wins, 129 seasons
Its baseball history is filled with a number of peaks and valleys, but California’s peaks have been high enough over 129 seasons of baseball to put it on this list. It won national championships in 1947 and 1957 and has reached the CWS six times, with the first and last of those appearances coming more than 60 years apart.
23. Ohio State - 2,629 Wins, 137 seasons
Another Big Ten program that really shined in an earlier era of college baseball, Ohio State made four CWS trips between 1951-1967, finished as the runner-up in 1965 and winning the national title in 1966. Since then, the Buckeyes have continued on as a regular contender at the top of the conference and had another peak when they went to the NCAA Tournament seven times in the 1990s.
24. Oklahoma - 2,625 Wins, 115 seasons
Oklahoma is behind rivals Texas and Oklahoma State on this list, but it has a proud history of its own. It won national titles in 1951 and 1994, and has been to the CWS 10 times overall, most recently in 2010. Since the 1970s, the Sooners’ status has never consistently dipped below that of a quality regional-caliber program.
25. Florida - 2,600 Wins, 106 seasons
Not unlike LSU, Florida is further down the list than one might have assumed simply because its history as a national title contender is shorter than many other programs on this list. Though it made nine NCAA Tournament appearances before getting to the CWS, its first Omaha trip didn’t come until 1988. Now, it has been 12 times total and captured a national championship in 2017.