GAINESVILLE -- Before we get into tonight's matchup between the Gators and Hurricanes (David Gutierrez is the likely UM starter FYI), we pause to honor one of the great stories in UM baseball history.
On June 11, 1985, Ron Fraser's Hurricanes captured their second national championship in three seasons by knocking off the favored Texas Longhorns (and some chap named Greg Swindell) at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha.
The Hurricanes didn't have a single player from that team to make it to the Major Leagues -- unless you count mascot John Routh and announcer Jay Rokeach. They both made it to the show with the Marlins in 1993.
Greg Ellena was the MVP of that tournament, a fitting choice for the team he represented. Fraser dubbed those Canes 'The Happiest Team in America.''
"They were an unselfish team,'' said WQAM's Joe Zagacki on Friday. "You talk about chemistry and they had it. They believed in each other and were inseparable. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Right in this ballpark (Gainesville) on a Friday; they got a little rambunctious and coach Fraser brought them out here early Saturday morning and ran them all morning.
They were all puking. They went to get on the bus and were told they were walking back. Fraser said he didn't care if they won or lost that night. It was a lesson learned. And they won that night.''
Here's more from Joe Z:
On the Series
"That team then won three straight one-run games -- 2-1, 6-5 and 2-1. They beat some great teams in Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and Texas. They were all loaded. A squeeze bunt beat Texas and forced a winner-take-all game.
"I remember feeling pretty good before the game. I was in the Texas dugout and they were all there stoically watching the rain. I go into the Miami dugout and it's empty. The team was in the locker room, using their bats to sing Frank Sinatra's My Way. They were very loose.''
On winning it
"They were relaxed, they knew they were going to win the game. They just kept getting one hit after another.
"Jay Rokeach had tears coming out of his eyes.
"They were the epitome of team. There was no ego on that team.
"I can still hear Sonny Hirsch say 'goodbye Mississippi State, hello Miami.' I use that every once in a while to honor him.
"You know who was supposed to be on that team? Mike Piazza. He got cut.
"Our catcher Chris Magno had a blood clot, couldn't play in the championship game. They all went to the hospital after the game. They were still in their uniforms.
"I still have that ring. Happiest Team in America, it says.
"We had the reunion earlier this year. All but two guys showed up. It was like that season was still going. So much fun.
"That team just kept winning. And they almost won it the next year. It took a great play from Florida State to knock them out.
Thanks to John 'The Maniac' Routh for emailing me to remind me about the anniversary.
Here's what he sent me in an email earlier this evening.
“I was the official mascot of the series as "The Maniac."
“I had asked the NCAA head, Jerry Miles, prior to the series if I could join the dogpile 'when Miami wins.' He laughed. We were the eighth seed. With two outs in the ninth, I looked at him. He smiled and gave me a thumbs up. So in the highlights, you see The Maniac celebrating with the Canes!
“Greg Ellena, the bullpen catcher midseason. Ron Fraser started him on a whim on a Sunday. He hit a home run -- and ended as the CWS MVP!
“Catcher Chris Magno was in the hospital, and the team took the trophy to visit him after the game.
“After Greg Swindell was given his second place plaque, he heaved it out into center field. May still be there!
“Of course, the highlight of the season for me was The Miami Maniac's Wedding back in March. ESPN covered the entire 14 minute ceremony live...with Sebastian the ibis as Best Man.''
-- And now, here's Jim Martz with his memories of the 85 team:
"They had the best reliever. Miami never won the series without a stopper. Rick Raether was crucial to their success.
"The A starter missed most of the year came back for the series. Kevin Sheary came through and got some big wins in Omaha.
"Up here in Gainesville is where they got their name 'the Happiest Team.'
"They got caught drinking, so he ran them. When they got back to campus, Fraser had t-shirts ready for them.
-- Feel free to leave your comments and memories from that team in the comment section.More from Gainesville throughout the night.
-- George Richards