Oregon State's back-to-back national titles in baseball were one of the coolest, and craziest, events in the history of Oregon sports. It was an unbelievable run.
I was a freshman at Oregon State in 2006, and I covered the Beavers' first championship in my first year working for The Daily Barometer, OSU's student paper. I will never forget Tyler Graham catching the final out of the College World Series and Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb., going silent for half a second as everyone thought the same thing: "Holy hell, did this just happen?" Then it was chaos. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps.
Fans anxious to relive those two incredible seasons will be given a special treat this week, as "Building a Legacy" hits bookstores today.
"Building a Legacy" was written by the Corvallis-Gazette Times' Oregon State reporter Cliff Kirkpatrick, and chronicles the Beavers' back-to-back titles. Cliff worked on the book all during football season (in all of his "free" time) and personally, I can't wait to read it.
Cliff will be at Flat Tail Brewery in Corvallis Saturday to sign books. The full press release on "Building a Legacy" is below. But first, we asked Cliff a few questions "…
Q: Before you started to write this and relive everything, what was your most memorable moment from the CWS?
A: There were so many memorable moments at both College World Series, I can't pick one. I still tell the stories today. There were big plays and experiences away from the field. For me it was the stuff away from the field that stuck out. Omaha is truly the center of the college baseball world, and being there at the end of the season to take in the atmosphere was special.
Q: What was it like to relive everything with Pat Casey? Did he remember lots of details, or just the big stuff?
A: Sitting down with Pat Casey to relive this was an incredible experience. I mentioned that in the book. We spent half a day just sitting back and talking about old times. We were very detailed because we lived those seasons together. We could get specific. It was an emotional interview, or conversation. I called it my best interview in my career.
Q: You've been working in the Willamette Valley for awhile, but before that you covered a variety of sports in California, including the 1996 World Series. Last year Aaron Fentress from The Oregonian said Oregon State's back-to-back titles were the most impressive accomplishment in the history of Oregon sports, even more impressive than the Blazers 1977 NBA Championship. His argument is that Casey and the Beavers had to overcome so many more obstacles than the Blazers could even imagine ... do you agree with that statement?
A: The two College World Series titles by the Beavers were the most impressive thing I've ever covered. Not only were they so improbable due to the obstacles a Northwest baseball team faces, the impact to the region was incredible. Everyone in the state of Oregon followed those teams. Even my mother-in-law, who could care less about sports, wanted to know what was going on when I phoned home from Omaha. And me being able to write a book about this shows how important it was to sports history in the state of Oregon.
Here's the press release:
Sports writer Cliff Kirkpatrick has authored a book about the rise of Oregon State University's baseball program and the team's fight through to play three times at the College World Series.
The book, Oregon State University Baseball — Building A Legacy, targets OSU baseball fans. It details the college team's rise to success and tells of their trials and tribulations to make three appearances at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The book was released by History Press and is available through Amazon.com and local bookstores.
Building a Legacy details the changes coach Pat Casey implemented to turn around the college program. Casey tells how he came to coach the Beavers and all that it took to turn around the program.
"It wasn't until I got down here and I started coaching that I said we needed a new facility and new uniforms," Casey said. "We had to try and maybe grow in areas — when you compete in the (Pac-12) North you are in an even playing field."
The book shares what Oregon State ballplayers did to relieve stress and get their heads into the game while on the road and under the spotlight at the College World Series. From fishing to back yard family barbecues, teammates share their experiences. Follow coaches and players as they detail the rise of Beavers baseball and the impact they had on Northwest baseball.
About the Author: Cliff Kirkpatrick has covered the athletics programs at Oregon State University for the Corvallis Gazette-Times since July 2004. Most of his work focuses on the football team, but includes a variety of sports. Before he moved to Oregon, he worked for the North County Times in Escondido, Calif., covering high school sports, pro and international soccer, motor sports and the 1996 World Series.