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July 04, 2004

Cal State Fullerton Is College Baseball Champ

FROM THE CWS IN OMAHA comes word of an amazing finals sweep of Texas by a young Cal State Fullerton team.

This was the fourth CWS championship from the otherwise get-no-respect Orange County school—unknown beyond college baseball circles and its region of southern California despite an enrollment of 30,000 students.

Fullerton head coach George Horton played for the Fullerton Titans in the 70s under head coach Augie Garrido. Garrido later left for Texas, so the series final pitted mentor versus student, as well as a dominant, seasoned Texas team versus an inexperienced Fullerton team (four sophomores and a freshman as starters) that matured as the season progressed.

At midseason the Titans were only 15-16, but they caught fire from that point on.

Banjo hitters all, both Fullerton and Texas played a game of shortened strokes and Choke & Poke. Of the eight teams at the CWS, Texas and Fullerton ranked 1st and 2nd in sac bunts but 7th and 8th in home runs.

But, other than bragging rights, what good comes from CSUF’s fourth championship?

Given the daunting fiscal crisis in California, and huge cutbacks to higher education, how can a subsidy to Titan baseball be justified?

Team supporters trot out the old image enhancement argument, echoed by Fullerton president Milton Gordon, “We've shown over and over, when we've done our surveys of Southern California and asked people, 'How do you know Cal State Fullerton?' our baseball program always comes out very high. It's one of those areas that brings a very positive public image to the university.”

Critics counter that money would be better spent on replacing academic programs that have been cut due to the financial crises.

Cal State Fullerton spent about $750,000 on baseball. By comparison, the University of Texas baseball team had a budget twice as big as Fullerton’s.

Said Fullerton AD Brian Quinn, “Now, we've really got to get people out there to support the program. These are tough economic times, and we can't count on the state for revenue."

California State University undergraduates face a 14% fee increase this fall.

Despite the university's 30,000 student enrollment, attendance at home games is little more than 1000, and sellouts occurred only in the playoffs.

(this 369 word excerpt—with attendant commentary--was extracted from a 1081 word article in the Orange County Register of 7-4-04 and an 800 word article from the Sports Illustrated of 7-5-04)