National Championship moments: 1975 Baseball
It was the kind of season of which national championships are made, so it was not surprising when Texas, led by head coach Cliff Gustafson, won the NCAA College World Series in 1975 and returned the national title to UT for the first time in 25 years.
Records fell and the national championship pennant went up as the Longhorns registered a 59-6 mark, which included a 23-1 Southwest Conference record. In what was supposed to be the toughest SWC race in years, Texas opened with a come-from-behind, extra-inning win over Houston and then stormed through the league. Only a bottom-of-the-ninth homer by Texas A&M in the season's conference finale kept UT from becoming the league's first unbeaten team since 1946.
The crown was Texas' 50th SWC title in the league's 60 years of competition and served as the launching pad for the Horns to sweep through the NCAA South Central Regional against South Alabama, Louisiana Tech and Pan American.
While the hitters were batting their way to records, the pitchers were busy chalking up a school-record 16 shutouts. In addition, Longhorn co-captains pitcher Jim Gideon and third baseman Keith Moreland were both named to All-America teams for the second time. Gideon closed his Texas career with a record 40 victories and Moreland set numerous hitting standards.
It was another pair of starters who garnered the limelight when Texas claimed the national crown in Omaha as sophomore first baseman Mickey Reichenbach and junior pitcher Richard Wortham stole the show. Reichenbach was christened the Series' Most Outstanding Player after hitting .455 with three doubles and one home run. Wortham earned a spot on the All-CWS pitching staff after blitzing South Carolina, 5-1, in the championship game.
Texas began the College World Series with a 4-2 win over Oklahoma, but was dropped to the loser's bracket after a 5-2 loss to Arizona State.
With the Longhorns' back to the wall, the UT lumber came out of its slumber. Over the next two games, Texas posted a team batting average of .363 as it overwhelmed Seton Hall (12-10) and South Carolina (17-6).
With three teams left in the Series - Texas, Arizona State and South Carolina - it was time to draw for the bye to the championship game. Texas trainer Spanky Stephens, who started as a student trainer and had made every trip to Omaha, picked the envelope for the Longhorns and made the lucky selection, sending Arizona State and South Carolina to the elimination game.
South Carolina knocked off Arizona State, 4-1, to set up the showdown between Gustafson, who rose through a storied career as a Texas high school coach to become one of the nation's premier collegiate coaches, and Bobby Richardson, who made his way to college coaching after being an All-Star second baseman for the New York Yankees.
The tone was set early as Reichenbach hit a two-run home run in the third inning to stake Texas to a 3-0 lead. Wortham then limited the Gamecocks to four hits while fanning nine batters to secure the win. Following the victory, the Longhorns returned to a cheering crowd in a packed Austin airport, bringing with them the CWS title.
The 1975 team spangles the Longhorns' record book. The squad still owns the school record for most triples (51) and batting average (.325). The .908 winning percentage from that season ranks third in school annals.
The 1975 Longhorns will be forever known for their dominant pitching staff. Gideon posted a 17-0 record for the campaign, which still stands as the NCAA mark for most wins in an undefeated season, and boasted a 1.80 ERA and 109 strikeouts. Wortham logged a 15-1 record with a 1.95 ERA and 105 strikeouts, and Martin Flores went 10-1 with a 1.43 ERA.
Texas was equally impressive at the plate. Moreland led Longhorn sluggers with a .410 batting average and 17 doubles to go with four home runs and 69 RBI. Leftfielder Mike Anderson went .359 with 76 runs and 21 stolen bases. Reichenbach (.332, 5 HR, 3 RBI), centerfielder Charles Proske (.327, 4 HR, 53 RBI), catcher Doug Duncan (.316, 3 HR, 49 RBI) and rightfielder Rick Bradley (.315, 7 R, 54 RBI) added to the potency of the lineup.
The World Series win propelled Gustafson and Texas back into the national baseball spotlight. Gustafson continued to coach the Longhorns through the 1996 season. He posted a 1,427-373 (.792) record, 22 Southwest Conference titles and 17 College World Series appearances in 29 seasons. Gustafson added his second NCAA title and the fourth in school history in 1983.