USC played its first baseball game on Nov. 23, 1889, losing to a club team called Bonny Brae, 13-10, on a campus field. But its real history started in 1924 with coach Sam “Wahoo” Crawford.
USC’s first full-time head baseball coach Harvey Holmes (standing, left) and members of his 1908 team, which went 17-2.

The Early Years

Scheduling in the earliest days of USC baseball had about as much consistency as Yogi Berra’s grammar. USC played its first baseball game on Nov. 23, 1889, losing to a club team called Bonny Brae, 13-10, on a campus field. Records don’t indicate another game until Feb. 20, 1892, when USC logged a 14-13 win over Woodbury Business College on its way to an undefeated (5-0-1) season. The 1893 season began prior to the calendar year with a 13-0 victory over El Monte on Oct. 29, 1892. Although 10 games were played that season, records show USC playing only a combined total of three games over the next four years.
The program regrouped in 1898, going 8-3 with L.W. Umsted serving as manager and catcher, but wavered without distinction again until 1902, when Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Waddell, who starred for the Philadelphia Athletics and three other teams, directed the team in early-season training.
A limited number of games were played each season thereafter until 1905, when a 12-game schedule included the first international game, in which USC lost to Waseda of Japan, 13-6. Official statistics were first kept in 1906, when shortstop and captain Walter Bridewell hit .461. In 1908, USC’s first full-time head baseball coach was named.
Harvey Holmes, who had coached the Trojan football team from 1904-07, led Troy to a 17-2 mark for the season. The next USC team with an official head coach was the 1911 squad. Curtiss Bernard, a professional player for the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels, led the Trojans to a 10-3 mark. Another PCL player, Len Burrell, took over the following season.
Then, in May 1913, USC baseball was abolished in order to focus all springtime athletic pursuits on the track and field team. For the next three years, the university’s law school team represented Troy on the baseball field, with the squad open to non-law students the last two years. George Wheeler, who played for the National League’s Philadelphia Phillies in the 1890s, led the law school team to an 8-2 record in 1914.
Ralph Glaze, the Trojan head football coach in 1914-15, took command of the baseball program in 1915, and Charles “Pat” Millikan was head coach in 1916. In 1917, Phil Koerner, a first baseman for the Los Angeles Angels, was named USC’s head coach, but he was traded to San Francisco midway through the season, so Millikan reassumed control for the remainder of the year. Students organized one game in 1918, a 3-2 loss to Union Oil on March 24, but other than that baseball was not played in 1918-19 due to World War I.
The then-not-yet grand old game was brought back as a full-fledged university sport in 1920, with famed football coach Elmer “Gloomy Gus” Henderson leading the squad to a 9-4-1 record. The 1921 team co-coached by Henderson and Willis O. Hunter was also very successful: 9-3 overall.
Records don’t indicate who coached the 1922 squad, but Wheeler returned to coach USC for one more year in 1923.

The Sam Crawford Era (1924-29)

The rest of the 1920s belonged to Sam “Wahoo” Crawford, who brought USC baseball to prominence by actively seeking to enlarge the schedule and improve it through tougher competition. He was a key force in the development of the California Intercollegiate Baseball Association, founded in 1927 by USC, California, St. Mary’s, Santa Clara and Stanford, and led USC to a second-place finish in the CIBA’s initial campaign. Crawford was 59-46-3 in all games, 55-33 against other college teams and 19-19 in CIBA games.
The CIBA lasted until 1966, with a brief resurrection in 1976. Through its first 40 years, other CIBA schools included Loyola Marymount, UCLA, Occidental, Pepperdine, the University of San Francisco and Whittier. In 1967, USC joined the Athletic Association of Western Universities, with Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State. The AAWU changed its name to the Pacific-8 Conference in 1968, and in 1979, Arizona and Arizona State joined the conference.

The Sam Barry Era (1930-41)

In 1930, Sam Barry took the baton from Crawford in full stride. His first USC team went 25-5-1 overall, 15-2-1 in college games and 11-2 in the CIBA to take the league title. He ended up with five CIBA crowns (including two ties), five seasons of 20-plus wins and career marks of 219-89-3 against all competition, 133-54-2 versus college opponents and 112-52 in conference games.
In a unique situation, Barry and Rod Dedeaux were co-head coaches in 1942 — until Barry left to join the Navy during World War II — and from 1946 until Barry’s death in 1950. The duo led USC to CIBA championships in five of the six years, including 1948, a significant milestone year for the Trojan program. Not only did USC get its first 40-win season that year, but it also won its first national championship, against Yale. The final marks for the Barry-Dedeaux tandem were 170-70-3 overall, 110-28 against college foes and 67-18 in CIBA games.

The Rod Dedeaux Era (1943-45, 1951-86)

When Barry joined the Navy in 1942, Dedeaux was left as the sole head coach for the next three years, and he made good on the opportunity, finishing second in the CIBA every year. In the 11 years after Barry’s death, with Dedeaux at the helm, USC won 11 CIBA championships (including two ties) and two national titles (1958 and 1961). After falling to second place in the CIBA in 1962, the Trojans came back with a vengeance in 1963 by taking the league and national titles.
USC was 17-3 in the CIBA in 1964 and finished fourth in the College World Series. The next season was a rebuilding year, but the Trojans still went 30-15-1. USC returned to Omaha, long-time home of the Series, in 1966, finishing third. The Trojans again “struggled” in 1967, finishing third in the CIBA and going 38-13-2 overall.
Then the streak, among the most remarkable accomplishments in collegiate athletics, took off. Dedeaux won seven NCAA crowns between 1968 and 1978, including five in a row from 1970-74. The “worst” year in that span came in 1969, when USC went 13-8 in league play to finish third. The best season, arguably, was 1971: the Trojans won all 17 of the conference games, went 54-13 overall and took the CWS championship (losing only to Southern Illinois, whom they beat later in the series). USC was perfect in CSW play in 1968, 1972, 1973 and 1978, going 5-0 each year. Seven 50-plus win seasons were included in the 1968-78 run.
When Dedeaux stopped coaching after the 1986 season to become USC’s director of baseball, he left behind a record that may never be surpassed. He had winning seasons in 41 of his 45 years — in one stretch, USC went 37 years without a losing campaign. His 1,332 wins (with only 571 losses and 11 ties) were more than any other Division I baseball coach in history until Texas’ Cliff Gustafson eclipsed the mark in 1994. Dedeaux was an on-the-field part of 11 Trojan national championships (he won 10 of his own and co-coached with Barry for the other one). He developed numerous future professional players, including Tom Seaver, Rich Dauer, Ron Fairly, Dave Kingman, Fred Lynn, Roy Smalley, Randy Johnson and Mark McGwire.

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Other Sites

The Summer of ’98

Team of Destiny

Coach of the Year

A Coach for the Century

Coach Sam Barry, whose teams won five CIBA crowns and posted five seasons of 20-plus wins.

Fred Lynn

Rookie of the year

National League, 1967
Tom Seaver ’66
New York, 16-13, 2.76 ERA

American League, 1975
Fred Lynn ’73
Boston, .331, 21 HRs, 105 RBI

American League, 1987
Mark McGwire ’84
Oakland, .289, 49 HRs, 118 RBI

Randy Johnson

Cy Young Award

National League, 1969
Tom Seaver ’66
New York, 25-7, 2.21 ERA

National League, 1973
Tom Seaver ’66
New York, 19-10, 2.08 ERA

National League, 1975
Tom Seaver ’66
New York, 22-9, 2.38 ERA

National League, 1995
Randy Johnson ’66
Seattle, 18-2, 2.48 ERA

Photographs Courtesy USC Sports Information

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