Santa Clara University

‘Best-ever’ 1962 Broncos baseball team nearly went the distance

Santa Clara University’s 1962 baseball team was arguably the best in school history.

The Broncos lost the NCAA championship game, 5-4, to University of Michigan in 15 innings at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. It was SCU’s third, extra-innings game in six CWS outings.

It remains the longest title game in NCAA championship history.

That SCU still holds nine CWS records is a tribute to overall strength of the Bronco nine, which sent a then-record five players to the Major Leagues.

They are pitcher Bob Garibaldi ’62, (Giants); third baseman Tim Cullen ’66, (Senators, White Sox, and Athletics); first-baseman John Boccabella ’63, (Cubs, Expos, and Giants); shortstop Ernie Fazio ’62, (Astros and Athletics) and pitcher Pete Magrini ’66, (Red Sox).

The ’62 team went 39-8 under the late coach John “Paddy” Cottrell. SCU won a season-opening 12 straight games, and had 13 straight wins to end the regular season.

Rich Freitas ’63, assistant coach of the 1962 squad, says the team "had the type of chemistry that could never be duplicated. There were so many different personalities on the team, but together, they blended well. It was a very unselfish team," he says.

Ron Calcagno ’63, who shared catching duties with Ron Cook ’63, credits the Broncos’ “good pitching, good offense, and a great coach in Paddy Cottrell.”

Students, alumni, and local fans gave “tremendous support to the team,” recalls Jerry Kerr ’61, SCU’s former director of the Alumni Association. “It was hard to get a seat for any of our home playoff games—they were sold out,” Kerr recalls.

The Broncos made the NCAA playoffs in stirring fashion, riding All-American Bob Garibaldi’s no-hit, 10-1 win over the University of Southern California, the defending NCAA champion.

“The USC win highlighted our regular season,” says SCU ace relief pitcher Dan Korbel.

“That game showed everyone we were a great team,” says left fielder Mickey McDermott ’63. “Off the field we showed different personalities. On the field, we were together,” he recalls.

After downing USC, Santa Clara beat Oregon State and Fresno State in regional play and was the top-ranked team heading into the World Series. They were led by All-American Fazio, whose 15 homeruns were tops in Division 1 that year. Boccabella hit .357 to edge Fazio, .356, for the team batting title in 1962. Five Santa Clara players were named all-league that year: second baseman John Giovanola, Boccabella, Fazio, Garibaldi, and McDermott.

SCU lost its World Series opener to Florida State, 5-1, SCU beat Missouri, 7-4 in 12 innings; defeated Holy Cross, 12-7; and won the rematch with Florida State, 11-6, to earn a spot in the title game. In the longest NCAA championship game ever, Santa Clara lost 5-4 to undefeated University of Michigan. Garibaldi was named most valuable player of the series. His 28 strikeouts remain a College World Series record.

The 1962 Broncos have held 12 reunions since their trip to Omaha that spring.

By Dick Degnon, SCU’s athletic news director from 1962 to 1981.

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