Longhorn Hall of Honor: John Langerhans
Nov. 9, 2011
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
Football is what originally drew John Langerhans to The University of Texas, but it was baseball that turned him into a Longhorn legend.
As an awestruck young boy, Langerhans watched football coach Darrell Royal's first season on the Forty Acres from the north end zone seats of what is now Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Years later, it was Langerhans dazzling the fans. As a first baseman, Langerhans pulled UT to three NCAA Men's College World Series appearances (1969, 1970, 1972). His 30 career home runs rank seventh on UT's all-time list and are the most among those who played before 1975.
"I have bled orange from probably three or four years old. My dad was responsible for that. We came to the UT football games," Langerhans said. "I've been a Longhorn my whole life and getting a chance to go to Texas and play baseball, to me, was more important than when I got drafted out of high school to play in the pros. My feeling was that playing for the Longhorns was better than playing for the pros, because I've been a Longhorn through and through forever."]
Langerhans led the Longhorns to three College World Series appearances and four Southwest Conference titles during his four-year career playing for Clif Gustafson. He finished his UT career with 35 doubles, seven triples, 151 RBI and a .325 batting average.
Langerhans' .589 slugging percentage ranks No. 12 on UT's career list. He and Jeff Ontiveros are the only two players in school history to lead the squad in home runs for three or more seasons.
But all these years later and Langerhans doesn't recollect the home runs or his All-America selections. He remembers the camaraderie of his Longhorns teammates and the special setting The University of Texas provided.
"Really, just the memories of old Clark Field and all the fun times we had out there," Langerhans said. "The more recent players don't have a clue to what it was like playing at Clark Field. It was a unique field with a cliff out there in center field. Opponents had to try and climb the cliff to go after balls we hit out there. Of course, we had drills at practice running up the cliff. It was such a special field for us."
Langerhans earned second-team All-America honors in 1971. His .743 slugging percentage from that year still ranks fourth in the school annals.
Following his UT career, Langerhans played four seasons with the Cleveland Indians organization, and ultimately reached Double-A, where he played for the San Antonio Brewers. But all along, Langherhans had an inkling his place on the diamond was in the dugout.
"I've wanted to be a coach ever since I was a little boy. My dad was a coach, and he was my biggest inspiration," Langerhans said. "There was no question by the time I got to the University of Texas on what I was going to be. Once I finished my baseball career, I was headed one direction and that was coaching. I wanted to be just like my dad."
However, Langerhans did more than just become a coach -- he grew into one of the most decorated high school coaches in the Central Texas history. He compiled a 613-200 career record in 28 years of coaching, his final 19 at Round Rock.
Langherhans led Round Rock to the state title in 1997 and ushered the Dragons back to the state championship game in 2003. He was inducted into the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007.
"My dad was my biggest role model and obviously Coach Gus (Cliff Gustafson) meant so much to me. Those two men have been the biggest inspiration in my life as far as my baseball and coaching career," Langerhans said. "My teammates were special and, all of the University of Texas was a special time for us. The moments, the chances we had -- the three times that we went to Omaha and played in the College World Series were special. We never won it. Our ultimate goal was always to win the thing and we went three of the four years I was there. We just never captured the big prize. The memories of going up there were great."