Arizona baseball alumni game a success

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Alex McIntyre and Alex McIntyre | The Daily Wildcat Arizona third baseman Bobby Dalbec runs to third base during Arizona’s 17-6 win against Arizona State on Apri 28, 2015 . Baseball America named Dalbec a pre-season First-Team All-American.

The Arizona baseball team held its annual alumni game on Saturday at Hi Corbett Field. Close to 180 alumni and former coaches were in attendance for the event, including former coach Andy Lopez who was honored before the game.

Lopez, who coached the Wildcats for 13 years and led the 2012 team to a national championship, received the Bear Down Award presented by athletic director Greg Byrne.

The two coaches of the alumni teams were Arizona Diamondbacks head coach and member of the 1986 national championship team Chip Hale and San Diego Padres hitting coach Alan Zinter. The two skippers were teammates while playing at Arizona.

Hale and Zinter weren’t the only alumni in attendance with professional baseball experience. The Red team featured several professional baseball players, as well as members of the 2012 national championship team with the likes of Kurt Heyer, Konnor Wade and Xavier Borde.

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Some fresh faces were in attendance for the game such as Kevin Newman and Scott Kingery who played together on last year’s team. Newman was selected 19th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2015 MLB draft, while Kingery was selected 48th by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The alumni presented a check of $10,393 to coach Jay Johnson for the baseball program after the game, proving the strong bond former Arizona baseball players have with the program they once played for.

Johnson acknowledged what it means to be a part of such a rich history and tradition of Arizona baseball after the game.

“To be part of this now, I don’t take it lightly. It’s a huge honor,” he said. “I’m respecting it very much.”

Coincidentally, Johnson learned the coaching side of baseball through former Arizona baseball coaches like Jerry Kindall and Andy Lopez.

“I watched Jerry Kindall’s instructional baseball video when I was 10,” Johnson said. “The first coaching book I ever bought was 'Coaching Baseball Successfully' by coach Lopez.”

Even more eerie is how Johnson’s ties to Arizona baseball go back to his early childhood and even his initial encounter with the game of baseball on television.

“The first baseball game I actually remember watching on television was the championship game of the 1986 College World Series,” Johnson said. “I think I was like nine years old.”

1986, of course, was the year Arizona baseball won its third national title.

Some could consider it destiny that Johnson became the head baseball coach at the UA. Some could consider Johnson to be Kindall's and Lopez’s successor. Only time will tell. 


Follow Ross Olson on Twitter.



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