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Minnesota Baseball: Gophers Win Big Ten Title 1959 TBT

Fifty-eight years ago this week the Gopher sluggers won the Big Ten title.

Gopher captain “Skeeter” Nelson

Hipster Note* Sorry these TBT posts haven’t been appearing as regularly. I’m a new dad, and we’re moving, so I’ve been busy. It’s my hope that I can get back on schedule and these will be up every Thursday around 8 AM. Now back to you regularly scheduled throwback.

I had hoped to do a post for the Softball post season but with this being by far their greatest season in program history it was tough to find a good TBT angle. Not true with the Baseball team. I’ve shared photos in the past about the 1956 College World Series Champs. Today I want to look at the 1959 Big Ten Champs ahead of the conference tournament that crowns a winner this weekend.

Coach Siebert in Iowa watching a 3 game sweep of the Hawkeyes in 1959.

The legendary Dick Siebert entered the 1959 season riding a wave. Back in 1956 his team had won the College World Series, and the Gophers had been dominating the Big Ten Conference winning 2 of it’s last 3 seasons. But the team had graduated a lot of its power hitting stars and 1959 was a new team. In fact Siebert picked his squad to finish 4th in the conference.

The team did not dominate the way the 1956 men had. The baseball nine cruised through the nonconference and won all but 2 games in conference to a 22-8 record. However in the Big Ten it only ranked 2nd in hitting and fielding. While outfielder Ron Causton was named All-American the reason for the team's success was its two ace pitchers in Fred Bruckbauer and Dick Siebert Jr.

Ace pitcher Bruckbauer against Illinois

From the Associated Press May 25, 1959

Minnesota, rained out of a doubleheader with Michigan, retained its Big Ten baseball championship Saturday.

The Gophers couldn't have lost out even if they had played since second-place Illinois dropped a doubleheader to Indiana 6.5 and 3-1.

The championship was the third in four years for Minnesota. Wisconsin ended in a second place tie with Illinois by whipping Northwestern twice 7-3 and 6-5.

Iowa managed to clear the cellar with a double triumph over Michigan State 4-1 and 2-0, while Purdue and Ohio State split a doubleheader with the Boilermakers taking the opener 2-0 and losing the nightcap 8-2. The result dropped Ohio State into the cellar with a 5-10 record. Paul Deem was the Indiana hero by relieving in the opener, driving home the winning run in the ninth inning. He then held Illinois to four hits in the nightcap.

Wisconsin copped the opener from Northwestern with an 11-hit attack including Russ Mueller's two-run homer. The Badgers won the nightcap on Jim Rogeny's run-scoring single in the first inning. Iowa managed to finish in ninth with a double triumph over Michigan State, The Hawkeyes scored four time in the fifth inning to win the opener and then coasted home on Roger Rudeen's three-hitter in the nightcap.

The championship was the fifth for Minnesota to put the Gophers ahead of everyone but Illinois (17) and Michigan (13) in the all-time conference standings.

The team then went on to play in the District playoffs before the College World Series. Playing in South Bend, Indiana, the Gophers won their first game. Minnesota was unable to advance after losing two straight to Notre Dame and Western Michigan. Unfortunately for Minnesota 1959 was the second straight year it was bounced from the NCAAs by Western Michigan.

You know it’s from Wikipedia