COLLEGE WORLD SERIES - KALAMAZOO, Mich. 1947 & 1948
Long before teams dreamed of Omaha, Kalamazoo was the desired destination at season’s end for college ballplayers across the nation.
Western Michigan’s Hyames Field started it all, hosting the first ever National Athletic Association Baseball Championship Series, now referred to as the College World Series in 1947. The series would return to Kalamazoo again in 1948, before moving to Wichita, Kan., in 1949 and finding its current location in Omaha, Neb., in 1950.
The 1947 and ‘48 College World Series were set in a best of three games format. California won the first championship in two games, defeating Yale (14-4, 8-7). Yale made the trip back to Kalamazoo in 1948, but again came up short, falling in three games to USC (1-3, 8-3, 2-9).
The 1947 contest was particularly memorable, featuring future American League MVP Jackie Jensen of Cal in the outfield. In the same contest, future United States President George H.W. Bush played first base for the Yale squad.
IMPACT OF JUDSON HYAMES:
Western Michigan's Athletic Director at the time and namesake of the CWS's first field, Judson Hyames was instrumental in bringing the College World Series to Kalamazoo in 1947 & 1948, and served as chairman of the first ever tournament in 1947. Hyames passed away in 1949, and the CWS would move to Wichita that same season.
Hyames was one of seven former coaches to be presented an honorary plaque at ceremonies the second day of the National Athletic Association Baseball Championship Series.
Hyames was inducted into the American Association of College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1966 and into the WMU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1974. He coached the Bronco baseball team to a 166-62-2 record over 15 seasons (1922-36), before holding the position of Athletic Director until his death.
Click the photo link below to view the 1947 College World Series program to find more information behind the history of the formation of the College World Series.
IN THE COLLEGE WORLD SERIES:
Western Michigan has made a total of six appearances in the College World Series: 1952, 1955, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1963.
The Broncos' best finish was in 1955, finishing as NCAA Runner-Up after falling to Wake Forest in the title game, 7-6. It was the first ever runner-up trophy for the Mid-American Conference in baseball. WMU finished third in 1952 and 1958.
Legendary Bronco coach Charlie Maher guided Western Michigan to six College World Series and 10 of WMU's 11 NCAA appearances.
CWS Total Appearances: Six
Years: 1952, 1955, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1963
Notable: WMU's Tom Cole pitched a two-hitter against Duke.
Finish: NCAA Runner-Up
Notable: WMU's Freed Messner hits first pinch-hit grand slam home run in CWS history. MAC's first NCAA Runner-Up in baseball, highest finish by a MAC team. (Eastern Michigan would also finish second in 1976)
Notable: Senior outfielder Marvin Winegar named to All-Tournament Team.
Notable: WMU's fourth CWS appearance of the decade, only Northern Colorado made more trips (5) to the CWS in the 1950's.
Notable: Sophomore outfielder Bill Tomb named to All-Tournament Team.
Notable: Only trip to the CWS Western Michigan did not win at least one game.
WMU NCAA Tournament Appearances: 11
Years: 1952, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1989