The first was easy.
But we still went to an expert.
During a recent appearance on the Jay Barker Radio Show, I had the chance to tell former Alabama baseball coach Barry Shollenberger (1980-94, 487-334-1 record) about this series at BamaCentral and asked him who should be among the top five in without sport.
“The first one there is not good,” he said. “Dave Magaden, of course.
“That guy hit .525. And it was not like he had 22 bats. He had over 200 bats that year, .525, and he increased his average at the end of the year in the tournament when you ‘meet the best teams, with it best pitchings.
“No one before that, or since, has come close to it. It’s not even in the same ballpark.”
However, even he had problems after that. Anyone.
A lot of Crimson Tide baseball stats were lost over time, and they were not really comparable anyway because the season used to be much shorter, between 20-30 total games.
It was quite rare to see someone with more than 20 RBI, or more than 35 hits. The players did not get many opportunities.
For example, in the media guide, the first player listed with double-digit home runs during a season was Butch Hobson with 13 in 1973.
With this in mind, some players to mention here include Bobby Sprowl, Robin Cary, Ken Chapman (who hit .469 in 1959, while also leading the Crimson Tide in races and RBI), Jack Kubiszyn, Kent Matthes, Riggs Stephenson, Roberto Vaz and Joe Vitiello.
Here are our top five, though:
From 1984-86 he was a hit machine for Crimson Tide.
His .758 career slugging percentage is still an Alabama record. Duke’s 27 home runs in 1986 (including three grand slams) were also a record until 2009, and his 50 career homes are number two on the all-time list.
Duke’s. The 388 stroke average in 1985 is still the best catch in Alabama history.
“Was a great recipient,” Shollenberger said. “Power outside the cards.”
This place could easily have been filled by one of his brothers, especially Al or Gene, who also had productive baseball careers from Crimson Tide. In 1950, Frank Lary led Alabama with 10 wins, while sending a 2.06 ERA.
The reason he gets nodded here is that until David Robertson in 2011, Lary was the only Crimson Tide pitcher to ever throw in a Major League All-Star Game, playing for the American League in 1960 and 1961.
His claim to professional fame was to be the first pitcher in 50 years to beat the New York Yankees’ seven straight games in 21 wins and 7 losses to that team. In 1956, he led the American League in most innings (294) and most victories (21), winning the Gold Glove Award in 1961.
A consensus election from across America as a senior, Phillips finished the Baylor Jason Jennings runner-up for the 1999 Dick Howser Trophy, presented by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association as the best player in college baseball. He played in 64 games, hitting .398 (103-for-259) with 22 home runs, 66 RBIs, 71 runs, 22 doubles and 16 steals.
When Phillips ended his four-year career with Crimson Tide, he had eight school records including most games played (244), matches started (224), at-bats (905), scores (222), total hits (322), home runs (61), RBI (224) and total bases (590). He also finished second in career doubles (63) and triple (11), finishing third on assists (537) and 10th on the tour (86).
He is the only player in Crimson Tide history to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY.
After leading Crimson Tide to the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship in 1919, Sewell’s MLB career spanned 14 seasons with the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees.
He retired in 1932 with an average of 0.312, 2,226 hits, 49 home runs and 1,055 RBI. Sewell has one of the lowest outcome rates in Major League history, hitting on average only once every 62.5 at-bats
At the age of 66, he took over Sewell Crimson Tide’s baseball program as head coach. Over the course of seven seasons, Alabama collected a record of 114-99 (.535), which included winning the 1968 SEC Championship.
He is Alabama’s lone winner of the Golden Spikes Award, baseball equivalent to the Heisman Trophy as player of the year. Magadan ended the 1983 season with six school career records (at-bats, runs, hits, RBIs, doubles, total bases and batting averages), was a major contributor to Alabama’s national second place to Texas at the College World Series.
He was also named the 1983 College Player of the Year by Baseball America. In addition to the .525 average, he also led the team in hits (114), doubles (31), total bases (180) and slugging percentage (.829).
Magadan still holds Alabama records for one-season batting averages (.525, 1983), career batting averages (.439, 1981-83), single-season hits (114, 1983), single-season doubles (31, 1983) and single season RBI (95, 1983).
Crimson Tide Top 5 will be shown every day during the month of June on BamaCentral.