When Temple University’s baseball team left for the 1972 College Baseball World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, they never expected to be back together in Philadelphia 50 years later.
“It truly felt like we were a team again,” said former third baseman Jack Don. “I am still on a high from just seeing everyone again and sharing memories with the guys and boy did we have some good laughs together.”
On June 10, the team reconnected at a Phillies game for the first time in a half- century to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of their memorable College World Series run. The 1972 Owls team still remains the most successful team in program history, being one of only two Temple baseball teams to qualify for the College World Series tournament and advancing further than any other team.
The Owls qualified for the 1972 College World Series after Don hit a line drive into center field, bringing outfielder Earle Chew home for the winning run in the District II Championship game against Penn State.
“I vividly remember telling the guys in the dugout that if someone got on, I would knock them in,” Don said. “The pitcher threw a fastball in the zone and fortunately I didn’t miss it and lined it back into center field and that was the ballgame.”
Temple combined for 20 runs in victories over the University of Iowa and the University of Connecticut in the losers bracket after a loss to the University of Oklahoma in 1972, claiming a spot in the national semifinals.
“It seemed like every time we needed a big play, whether it be on defense or a big strikeout from somebody or a shutdown inning, we always seemed to get one,” said 1972 pitcher and team captain Ed Molush. “Even when we got down early in the elimination games, I don’t think anyone on the team felt anything other than belief that we could somehow come back and we did.”
In their semifinal matchup with the top-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils, Molush allowed just one run in a complete game effort, but the Sun Devils’ held the Owls scoreless, and won the game by a final score of 1-0, ending Temple’s hopes at a national championship.
The former players reunited with one another by recalling memories, like cracking jokes on the flight to Omaha and sharing laughs in their hotel rooms before games.
Former pitcher Phil Gore brought the idea of a reunion to then-interim athletic director Fran Dunphy.
“All of the awkwardness dissipated in less than a minute,” Gore said. “We were all having fun getting reacquainted so it just shows how teams that are successful develop such a strong bond.”
After the Phillies game, the team had a picnic and toured Temple’s Main Campus. In previous years, some teammates have met to see their peers inducted into the Temple Athletics Hall of Fame.
Despite being one of the oldest sports at Temple, the baseball program was dismissed in 2014 because of university budgetary constraints. However, Temple’s baseball tradition lives on because of the 1972 team and continued alumni engagement.
“No one knew who we were when we first got there,” Don said. “We were proud of how far we had come and that we had Temple on our chests.”