It’s not the Titans, Longhorns, Seminoles, Wildcats or even the Cardinal. No, there currently are more Dirtbags from Long Beach State in Major League Baseball than any other university in the nation.
For the second consecutive year there are 16 Dirtbags representing 12 teams this season: the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers.
“I think they have been prepared well, but we don’t try to make Major League players. We have good coaches here. These players have benefited from the consistency we gave them. They don’t have to learn as much in the minors like how to approach the fundamentals of the game,” said head coach Troy Buckley. “We’re very teaching-oriented. There’s personal development. There’s plenty of baseball learning consistency with how we think things should go. We look for players that want to go along with that philosophy.”
Altogether, Long Beach State has had 41 players in the majors over the years. There currently are 17 in the minor leagues, including two former major leaguers.
Even with 10 pitchers, the Dirtbags would only need an outfielder and a catcher to field their own MLB team. Among the most notable players are Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and first baseman Jason Giambi, and Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
Weaver, whose major league debut was in 2006, was a Cy Young Award candidate this year and is already a two-time All-Star who led the league in strikeouts in 2010.
Tulowitzki, who also debuted in 2006, is another a two-time All-Star as well as a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner who in 2007 turned an unassisted triple play. Giambi was the American League MVP in 2000 and is a five-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger. Longoria, American League Rookie of the Year in 2008 when the Rays won the pennant, is a three-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove winner and a Silver Slugger.
“My time spent with Long Beach State was awesome,” Weaver said. “I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I had a couple of other options, but Long Beach State was the place for me to be. It was the best decision of my life. Working with Buck (Buckley, then pitching coach) was easy. He was very down to earth guy. He got his point across. He was very good at relaying his message to young guys coming in. He taught me the ropes mechanically. He got me to where I am today.”
The Dirtbags have their own history of success. They’ve been to four College World Series, putting them in the top 20 percent in the nation in appearances. Since their first World Series appearance in 1989, they have been ranked in the top 10 in the nation 40 weeks and are almost always ranked in the nation’s top 25.
“We stress character. We’re trying to recruit the right kids. Talent is the easiest thing to see, but attitude is very important. You can’t make excuses. We want to develop them to be good young men. We want to win games. That’s my job, but we want to do it the right way,” said Buckley, adding that having so many MLB alumni helps him with recruiting. “Every young kid wants to play on TV if they have any competitive goals. But this is not just a path to the major leagues. They put the team first and they all want to win, and individual success follows that. We’re looking to win, get back to the World Series, and, frankly, win a championship.”
See what several former Dirtbags say about the program at www.longbeachstate.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/070511aab.html.
Former Dirtbags in the Major Leagues This Season
Top row above, from left:
John Bowker, left fielder, Philadelphia Phillies
Andrew Carpenter, pitcher, San Diego Padres
Bob Cramer, pitcher, Oakland Athletics
Danny Espinosa, second baseman, Washington Nationals
Marco Estrada, pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers
Jason Giambi, first baseman, Colorado Rockies
Jared Hughes, pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates
Evan Longoria, third baseman, Tampa Bay Rays
Bottom row above, from left:
Cesar Ramos, pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays
Jeremy Reed, outfielder, Milwaukee Brewers
Brian Shaw, pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
Jason Vargas, pitcher, Seattle Mariners
Jered Weaver, pitcher, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Adam Wilk, pitcher, Detroit Tigers
Vance Worley, pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies