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1972 Baseball Team (2011)

No one outside the campus on Laramie and Lake saw it coming. The Chicago Catholic League coaches and players had already made the preseason prognostications, and the Loyola Ramblers were not on anyones list of likely teams to make a run for the CCL crown. However, Head Coach John O'Loughlin (HOF, 1990) and Coach Jim O'Loughlin (HOF, 1998) knew they had the makings of a winner, and they prepared for the season with great anticipation and hope. They were not disappointed. Unheralded and unknown, the 1972 Baseball Team emerged that spring as the surprise team of the Chicago Catholic League, posting a 21-7 record while winning the regular season crown, and staking its claim to a spot in the CCL championship series. In the process, the team established the best record of any Loyola nine since the resumption of baseball in 1957. It was a memorable run. Loyola began the year taking four of five preseason tilts, followed by a school record eight straight to start the regular season. After finally clinching the best regular-season record at 13-4, the Ramblers entered the playoffs to close the deal. They swept St. Laurence in the semi-finals, and only St. Rita, whom they had beaten badly in the regular season, stood between the Ramblers and the title. Loyola split the first two games of the championship series, only to lose the rubber match and, with it, the title. The Ramblers, picked to go nowhere early on, had taken the regular season, and come within a timely hit or two of winning the Catholic League outright. A team of balanced parts and few weaknesses, LoyolaÕs Men of the Diamond combined solid pitching (staff ERA of 2.34) with heavy hitting (team average of .303) and sure-handed defense (fewer than two errors per game) to forge a championship-caliber team. The pitching staff was led by Wally Bogner, Charlie Leibrandt, Mark Yogan, and John Finzer, with help from Tom O'Connor and Pete Steger, while Jim Hielscher handled the catching duties. John Ouska, Bob Kempf, Andy Spreitzer, Phil Ryan, and Steve Rebarchak manned the infield. Roaming the outfield were Jim Rebarchak, Tom Pyke, and Kevin Gillen. Ready in reserve were Gary Feireisel, Dave Majcher, Dan Monckton, Pat Dollard, Mike Rostenkowski, Bill Palmer, Tim Anderson, and Steve Parker. Several players on the 1972 team emerged as bona fide stars by the end of the spring campaign. Four members of the team have since been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Charlie Leibrandt, Andy Spreitzer, Jim Rebarchak, and Steve Rebarchak. Leibrandt , a future major-leaguer, is also a member of the Catholic League Hall of Fame, as are the O'Loughlin brothers. The 1972 Baseball Team, ignored and left for dead before the first pitch was thrown, stunned the Catholic League with its run for the title, and in doing so, earned respect the hard way. The Ramblers would be ignored no longer. For the first time in the modern era, Loyola was a contender again. The 1972 Baseball team had brought a rich tradition back to life on the North Shore campus. The following season, with many returning players and the taste of blood still in their mouths, the Loyola nine completed what they had begun, claiming the 1973 Catholic League Championship. The long wait was finally over.

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