Baseball sets inaugural Roger Strickland Classic for Feb. 24
Roger Strickland was a two-time All-America honoree in the 1960s
Roger Strickland was a two-time All-America honoree in the 1960s
The JU baseball program has announced a new tradition with every home season opener being deemed the Roger Strickland Classic at John Sessions Stadium.

The inaugural classic to honor the former two-time All-America honoree will put the Dolphins against Northeastern on Friday, Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. Strickland, a JU hall of famer, was the Dolphins first two-sport athlete, competing for the baseball and basketball teams in the 1960s. He passed away at the age of 70 on Feb. 2, 2011.

“Roger, the student-athlete and person, made a significant difference here at JU and we wanted to honor he and his family,” said Director of Athletics Alan Verlander. "Over my years as AD, Roger became a good friend and his passing was way too soon. I am so pleased that his life and name will continue to live in perpetuity within JU Athletics. It is an honor well-earned and deserved."

“Roger was true friend to our program as well as our first All-America honoree,” JU head coach Terry Alexander. “It’s fitting his legacy lives on in our program with this classic.”

On the diamond, Strickland played for the Dolphins from 1961-63. He was twice named to the All-Florida Intercollegiate Conference team and won league MVP honors after batting .417 as a senior in 1963. He was also JU's first baseball All-America honoree in 1963 and a Wells Cup outstanding student award winner.

Strickland played on the hardwood from 1960-63 and earned AP, UPI and Converse All-America accolades in his final two seasons. He was also a two-time Little All-America honoree. Additionally, Strickland earned two-time All-Florida Intercollegiate accolades and was named MVP of the Florida Intercollegiate Conference in 1962.

In the JU record book, he ranks first at JU in career scoring average with 27.3 ppg and is sixth on the career points list with 1,691. He also owns the Dolphins' single-season record in scoring average (32.6 ppg) and points (783). Strickland also set the JU single-game assists record with 20 against Rollins on Jan. 5, 1962. He was the first basketball player in school history to have his jersey, 52, retired.

After his basketball career, he was taken as the seventh pick overall in the 1963 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers and played with the Baltimore Bullets in the 1963-64 season.

Strickland got his degree in business administration and went on to a career at BellSouth where he retired as the vice president of communication.

Strickland was a staunch supporter of JU athletics throughout his life, helping create and serving as president of the JU Athletic Association (JUAA), as well as the JU Athletics Hall of Fame - which he served as chairman of since its rebirth in 2007.

The 2012 JU baseball team begins practice Friday to prep for the season opener at Southern California on Feb. 17.