Around the horn with Nebraska baseball

· 4 min read

Around the horn with Nebraska baseball
5 facts about Nebraska's oldest intercollegiate sport

Nebraska starting pitcher Robbie Palkert delivers to home during the 2019 Big Ten Conference tourney in Omaha. The Huskers open NCAA tournament play this weekend in Oklahoma City.
Scott Bruhn |
Nebraska starting pitcher Robbie Palkert delivers to home during the 2019 Big Ten Conference tourney in Omaha. The Huskers open NCAA tournament play this weekend in Oklahoma City.

Nebraska baseball opens play in the 2019 NCAA tournament today at noon facing the University of Connecticut as part of the Oklahoma City regional. Overall, the Huskers have made the NCAA post-season tournament 16 times, with three College World Series appearances and an overall tourney record of 32 wins and 31 losses. As Husker Nation readies for the UConn game, here are five facts every fan should know about Nebraska baseball.

First at Nebraska U

Formed in 1884, Nebraska baseball is the university’s first collegiate sport. It originally featured three teams: varsity, junior varsity, and a final team of players formed from leftovers of the other two squads. The teams played against each other until 1889 when Nebraska organized its first intercollegiate schedule. Nebraska was 1-2 that year, defeating Doane College and losing to Ulysses (twice).

Nebraska's first baseball team took the field for the 1883-1884 season, making it the university's oldest intercollegiate sport. Pictured here is the team from the 1887-1888 team, which was the first to be photographed.

36 Huskers have made it to the show

Since Husker baseball’s first pitch in 1889, 36 Huskers have graduated to play Major League Baseball. Huskers who have gone pro have won a combined nine World Series rings, nine All-Star selections and nine Gold Glove Awards. The university’s pro-baseball lineup includes Nebraska-natives: Bob Cerv, of Weston, who played in the MLB from 1951 to 1962 with the Kansas City Athletics, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Houston Colt .45s (now the Astros); and Alex Gordon, of Lincoln, who has played with the Kansas City Royals since being drafted in 2005. While at Nebraska, Cerv helped lead Nebraska basketball and baseball to two conference championships. He also played in two World Series, earning a ring with the Yankees in 1956. Gordon helped lead the Royals to a MLB title in 2015 and is a six-time Gold Glove Award winner.

Former Husker standout Darin Erstad has served as the baseball coach since 2011. He also was a Husker football punter on the 1994 NCAA championship team.

Erstad comes home

Husker baseball coach Darin Erstad was a two-sport athlete in college. Along with playing baseball, he served as punter on the 1994 Husker football NCAA championship team.

Darin Erstad, who was a two-sport athlete at Nebraska from 1993 to 1995, was named the Husker baseball head coach in 2011. Erstad played in the major leagues from 1996 to 2009 with the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros. He won a World Series ring in 2002, made the all-star team in 1998 and 2000, and collected Gold Glove honors in 2000, 2002 and 2004. He is the first player in MLB history to earn Gold Gloves in the outfield and infield. Erstad was also the starting punter and place kicker during Husker football’s 1994 national championship run.

World-class stadium

Situated in the historic Haymarket District, Hawks Field at Haymarket Park seats nearly 8,500 fans. It is the only ballpark to win the Sports Turf Managers Association Collegiate Baseball Field of the Year Award multiple times. It was also the first collegiate ballpark with a SubAir system that can cool and heat the field year-round.

Hawks Field at Haymarket Park
Hawks Field at Haymarket Park

2 perfect games, 7 no hitters

In its 135-year history, Nebraska baseball has recorded a pair of perfect games and seven no-hitters. Both perfect games were scored against the University of Kansas, first by Richard Geier (a 1-0 win on April 20, 1954), and by Cliff Faust (a 3-0 tilt on May 3, 1980). Of the no-hitters, three were by individual pitchers: Dwight Siebler, 1-0 over Oklahoma on May 18, 1957; Tim Burke, 21-0 over Austin College on March 15, 1978; and Anthony Kelley, 5-0 over Oklahoma on April 5, 1981. Nebraska’s most recent no-hitter featured three pitchers and was scored April 16, 2013 in a 3-0 win over Arkansas.