Byline: Sam Adams Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer
Their logo resembles that of the Grateful Dead - except the skull is held together by red seams. The University of Denver's club baseball team wants people to know Pioneers baseball is back from the dead.
DU dropped varsity baseball from its athletics program at the end of the 1997 season. Since then, DU joined a six-team club league - the Colorado Collegiate Baseball Conference - and won the regular-season title with a 15-5 record. The Pioneeers were followed by Northern Colorado (11-7), Colorado State (9-7), CU-Colorado Springs (6-8), Colorado (4-8) and Western State (4-14). The fledgling conference's postseason tournament will be played May 1-3 at CSU's baseball field.
The Pioneers' roster features three players who were on the varsity when the program ended - including Tre Rudig, who has a 7-0 pitching record this season for the club team, Clayton Boop and Scott Swartwood - and three more players who were recruited for the varsity team. Playing on the club team was an option to transferring from DU.
``You could call us a ragtag bunch - the players pay their own expenses,'' said Kyle Banister, who coaches the team with Bob Myers. Banister's son Don played at Bear Creek High and is one of the recruits who elected to stay at DU. ``But,'' Banister said, ``a lot of these kids still have dreams of playing varsity ball.''
Banister said the club league has talked with several schools that are interested in joining - including Nebraska. Still, some players hope a varsity program will return to DU, which recently announced its plan to join the Sun Belt Conference.
Sun Belt member South Alabama is ranked among the nation's top 30 in this week's college baseball polls.
``With (athletic director) Joel Maturi and Bernie Mullin leaving, and the school tearing down the baseball field, it doesn't look good for baseball coming back to DU,'' Banister said. ``We're hoping somebody with a real strong baseball background comes in.''
Century mark - Colorado Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy can attain his 100th career playoff win tonight against Edmonton at McNichols Sports Arena. Roy made his Stanley Cup playoff debut with the Montreal Canadiens on April 9, 1986, against the Boston Bruins. Montreal won 3-1, and the game summary credited Roy with saving 27 of 28 shots. And wouldn't you know, it was Roy's kind of game - with plenty of rough stuff. Ten penalties were levied in the game's final two minutes - six major misconducts for fighting, two minors for high sticking and one double major for high sticking and fighting. Roy, however, was not one of the players penalized. Roy, by the way, is four playoff shutouts from the all-time record (15) set by Terry Sawchuk.
Line drives - Denver Mayor Wellington Webb is not in favor of a retractable dome for the Broncos' new stadium. Why? Three words: Denver International Airport. ``A (retractable) dome would be nice,'' Webb said in an interview last week. ``But I'm the only one in this town that had to suffer with all the Jay Leno and (David) Letterman jokes about the baggage system not working at DIA. Besides, we never do anything halfway in Denver. If the dome gets stuck, it wouldn't happen in the (preseason) - it would get stuck on national TV during the biggest game of the season. Let someone else be first with a (retractable) dome.'' . . . Last season Dean Garrett helped Minnesota gain its first NBA playoff berth, while Tom Hammonds was spending time in Denver. Last September the Nuggets dumped Hammonds to sign Garrett. Now Hammonds is a key contributor off the bench in the Timberwolves' opening-round playoff series against Seattle. Wasn't Hammonds a key member of the Nuggets team that upset Seattle in the first round of the 1994 playoffs? . . . Avalanche center Peter Forsberg is featured in the May 4 issue of Sports Illustrated . . . Friday night is boxing night at the Denver Athletic Club. The DAC is hosting a fund-raiser for the 20th Street Boxing Club. Ten three-minute, three-round fights are scheduled, preceded by a dinner and cocktail hour that starts at 5:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased for $75 at the DAC (534-7331, ext. 1164).
Buzzer beater - Trivia answer: The 1977 New York Yankees.
Since 1970 only four National League teams have finished first in their respective divisions during the same season in which they were host to the All-Star Game - Cincinnati (1970), Pittsburgh (1974), Philadelphia (1976) and Houston (1986). Cincinnati is the only one of the group that advanced to the World Series. Last year the Cleveland Indians played host to the All-Star Game and played in the World Series. Trivia: Name the last major league team to play host to an All-Star Game and win the World Series in the same season. Answer below.