I want to take some time to give my respects to our baseball program here at UC Riverside. The program has come a long way since it started in 1958. It has shown substantial amount of success, particularly in producing a high number of draft picks. The first Highlander to be drafted was John Lowenstein in 1968. Since then, 118 Highlander athletes have been drafted and 15 of them, including Lowenstein, have reached the Major Leagues.
In fact, Lowenstein went on to play in two World Series tournaments with the 1979 and 1983 Baltimore Orioles, winning the title 1979. There have been four other Highlanders to make it to the big game. Marc Rzepczynski, the most recent, won it with the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 World Series. Troy Percival won it with the 2002 Anaheim Angels and Eric Snow made it and lost at 1984 World Series with the San Diego Padres.
If you’ve ever been to a home game at the Riverside Sports Complex, then you’re likely familiar with the two Division 2 National Championships (1977, 1982) and one Big West Conference Championship (2007) posted on the Wall of Honor located in right-center field. The field also displays retired jerseys of Snow’s #19 and Percival’s #40.
The program has a fine line of history that is pleasurable to read about. Pitcher Joe Kelly, who recently played for Riverside for the 2007-2009 seasons, finally made his MLB debut in middle of June 2012 for the St. Louis Cardinals. Highlander Eddie Orozco, who graduated in 2012, was recently drafted by the Chicago Cubs. I can bet money that we will be seeing Orozco one day playing in the Major Leagues and making a significant impact on the sport.