On This Date: Ex-College Hoopers Make Their Mark on April 18 MLB Games
Extra! Extra! Read all about memorable major league baseball achievements, moments and transactions involving former college basketball players! Numerous ex-college hoopers had front-row seats to many of the most notable games and dates in MLB history.
Baseball is portrayed as a thinking man's game but only 4% of active MLB players earned college diplomas. Unless you habitually pore over the content at baseballlibrary.com, baseballreference.com and nationalpastime.com, following is an April 18 calendar focusing on such versatile MLB athletes:
Philadelphia Phillies INF Gene Freese (West Liberty WV basketball captain of 1952 NAIA Tournament team) smacked a pinch grand slam against the Cincinnati Reds in a 1959 game.
Texas Rangers 1B Mike Hargrove (Northwestern Oklahoma State hoops letterman) collected four hits and five RBI against the Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a 1976 doubleheader.
RHP Jim Konstanty (Syracuse hooper in late 1930s) traded by the Cincinnati Reds with cash to the Boston Braves in 1946.
Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Sandy Koufax (Cincinnati's freshman hoops squad in 1953-54) threw the second of two immaculate innings in his career when he struck out the side on nine pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in third frame in 1964.
Atlanta Braves CF Kenny Lofton (Arizona's leader in steals for 1988 Final Four team compiling 35-3 record) provided a homer among his five hits in a 14-0 romp over the Colorado Rockies in 1997. Five years later with the Chicago White Sox, Lofton delivered multiple safeties seven times in a span of eight games while raising his batting average from .250 to .426 in 2002.
Davey Lopes (NAIA All-District 15 selection for Iowa Wesleyan averaged 16.9 ppg and 3.4 rpg as freshman in 1964-65 and 12.1 ppg as sophomore in 1965-66 before transferring with his coach to Washburn KS) fired as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002.
San Francisco Giants CF Billy North (played hoops briefly for Central Washington in 1967-68) stole three bases against the Atlanta Braves in 1981.
Montreal Expos RHP Steve Renko (averaged 9.9 ppg and 5.8 rpg as Kansas sophomore in 1963-64) won his first start of season against the New York Mets before dropping last 10 decisions of the 1972 campaign.
Hall of Fame RHP Robin Roberts (one of Michigan State's top three scorers each season from 1944-45 through 1946-47) surrendered the first hit on artificial turf in 1966 when Los Angeles Dodgers SS Maury Wills singled to center at Houston's Astrodome.
1B Jackie Robinson (highest scoring average in Pacific Coast Conference both of his seasons with UCLA in 1939-40 and 1940-41) ripped his first homer for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 (against New York Giants). The blast was Robinson's lone round-tripper in his first 30 MLB games.
New York Yankees RHP Roy Sherid (Albright PA hoops center in 1926-27 and 1927-28) toiled 15 innings but lost, 5-4, against the Boston Red Sox in 1931.
RHP Cecil Upshaw (led Centenary in scoring as junior while averaging 13.7 ppg and 6 rpg from 1961-62 through 1963-64) registered his fourth victory hurling at least three innings of relief in the Atlanta Braves' first 11 games of the 1971 season.
Philadelphia Athletics 3B Billy Werber (first Duke hoops All-American in 1929-30) provided four safeties in season opener en route to seven multiple-hit games in his first 11 outings of the 1938 campaign.