Aug. 10, 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville University baseball program enjoyed its most successful season in history in 1976 and after 30 years, members of the squad will be honored for their achievements prior to the start of the Jacksonville Suns contest against the Carolina Mudcats on Saturday, Aug. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
The Dolphin squad, which finished with a program-best 45-14 record, ranked ninth in the Collegiate Baseball polls and earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament. During the South Regional in Tallahassee, the Dolphins reached the final game with wins over Middle Tennessee State and host Florida State. JU, coached by Jack Lamabe, was ranked as high as No. 3 in the national polls, the highest ranking since the program started in 1957.
"What the 1976 baseball team accomplished is amazing and it is exciting to have them honored for all of their success," said JU director of athletics Alan Verlander. "They set the bar very high for our baseball program and they still have the most wins in school history, some 30 years later."
Among the members of the Dolphins' squad were USA Collegiate All-Americans Dave Chappell (first base) and Rocky Rausch (shortstop) along with eight members of the squad which went on to play professionally. Pitcher Rick Peterson is currently the pitching coach for the New York Mets while catcher Tom Simmons and third baseman Dan Roberts were sons of Philadelphia Phillies hurlers - Ted Simmons and Robin Roberts.
"It's been more than 30 years since we have played together and we are still the most successful team in program history," said Dan Westmoreland, a former pitcher and organizer of the reunion. "I thought it was time for us to be recognized for our accomplishments and I wanted a chance to see all of the guys again before we all start getting too old."
As part of the pregame festivities, the 1976 squad will be introduced prior to the contest and will have a display on the video board during introductions. The team will then enjoy a dinner in the Sundowner Lounge while everyone catches up on old times and life experiences while getting a chance to watch the Suns vs. Mudcats.