Arizona Baseball

Win one for the thumb: Reliving Arizona’s four College World Series titles

Arizona has four College World Series championships in its 17 previous trips to the College World Series. The Wildcats being their quest to “win one for the thumb,” as the expression goes — their fifth championship ring — when they play Vanderbilt on Saturday at 11 a.m. We relive the first four championships (three under Jerry Kindall and another with Andy Lopez) with newspaper clippings:

1976 National Champions

Arizona Wildcats 7, Eastern Michigan 1

June 18, 1976

Most Outstanding Player — Steve Powers

Front page of the Tucson Citizen sports page on June 20, 1976

By Tim O’Mara, Tucson Citizen

There weren’t many people in Omaha, or Tucson, who thought UA would be wearing the national crown after the Cats were dropped for the seventh straight time this season by Arizona State in the opening round of the tournament. But just as they have all season, the Cats clawed their way back, playing easily the best baseball of any of the eight teams in the tournament, and now have the school’s first national title in any sport.


1980 National Champions

Arizona Wildcats 5, Hawaii 3

June 6, 1980

Most Outstanding Player — Terry Francona

Front page of the Arizona Republic sports page on June 7, 1980

By Bob Eger, Arizona Republic

The Citizens of Omaha, who know good baseball when they see it, saw plenty by the Wildcats after an embarrassing first-round loss to 11th-ranked St. John’s of New York. “We took them under the grandstand and had a talk after the St. John’s game,” Arizona coach Jerry Kindall said. “We talked about our goal — the national championship — and re-dedicated ourselves to attaining it.”


1986 National Champions

Arizona Wildcats 10, Florida State 2

June 9, 1986

Most Outstanding Player — Mike Senne

Front page of the Arizona Republic sports section on June 10, 1986

By Bob Eger, Arizona Republic

The Cats received eight innings of shutout pitching from junior right-hander Gary Alexander and crushed Florida State, 10-2, in front of 12,659 fans at Rosenblatt Stadium. It was the first time in Arizona’s eight postseason victories that the Wildcats did not have to come from behind. Mike Senne and Gar Millay hit two-run homers in a four-run sixth inning, when Arizona took a 6-0 lead.


2012 National Champions

Arizona Wildcats 4, South Carolina 1

June 25, 2012

Most Outstanding Player — Rob Refsnyder

Front page of The Arizona Daily Star sports section on June 26, 2012

By Ryan Finley, Arizona Daily Star

The College World Series’ hottest team found life when things seemed to be falling apart, and because of it, the Arizona Wildcats are national champions. Brandon Dixon ripped a one-out RBI double left field in the ninth inning and Trent Gilbert followed with a two-run single, giving the UA a 4-1 College World Series Finals win over South Carolina in front of 23,872 at TD Ameritrade Park.


FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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