On the list of UCLA's best, Jackie Robinson stands out
Jackie Robinson was not a star baseball player at UCLA, but he's easily the best big leaguer the school has ever produced.
Until Tuesday, no UCLA Bruin had won the College World Series.
But 12 Bruins owned rings from that other World Series, including Brandon Crawford, who won his last October with the Giants.
According to baseball-reference.com, 76 UCLA players have made it to the major leagues. Only five schools have produced more (USC 109, Texas 106, Arizona State 103, Stanford 89, Michigan 78). Ten Bruins have played in the big leagues this year, one (Ron Roenicke) is managing and one (Mike Gallego) is coaching. Three others hold key front-office jobs -- Brian Graham with the Orioles, Vern Followell with the Twins and Michael Young with the Dodgers.
Every UCLA team since 1965 has included at least one player who went on to play in the big leagues.
In honor of the school's first baseball title (and simply because I wanted to), a list of the 10 best major-league players from UCLA:
1. Jackie Robinson. If this were based on performance in college baseball, he wouldn't top the list. Robinson was a four-sport athlete at UCLA, and baseball was not his specialty. He played just one season with the Bruins and batted .097. So what? He's UCLA's one player in the Hall of Fame, and the Bruins play in Jackie Robinson Stadium.
2. Chase Utley. Injuries have severely cut into what was a great start to a career, but Utley is a five-time All-Star who was a key player on a team that won the 2008 World Series.
3. Troy Glaus. His 320 home runs lead all Bruins. He made four All-Star teams and also was a key player on a World Series winner.
4. Chris Chambliss. For a long time, his 1969 College World Series team stood out as the best Bruins team. And his walkoff home run to win the 1976 ALCS for the Yankees might be the most-replayed moment by any Bruin player. His 2,175 big-league games are the most by a Bruin.
5. Eric Karros. Deserves a spot on this list if only because he won the Rookie of the Year award, which was named for Robinson.
6. Jeff Conine. Played 17 years in the big leagues, he's Mr. Marlin and he owns two World Series rings. The only Bruin with more is Bobby Brown, who won four with the Yankees in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
7. Todd Zeile. Played more big-league games than any Bruin other than Chambliss. And his nephew, Shane, was the catcher for this year's UCLA team.
8. Don Slaught. Caught for 16 years in the big leagues. Also coached in the big leagues and now runs a successful business (RightView Pro), which provides training methods for baseball and softball (and is used by several big-league players and hitting coaches).
9. Dave Roberts. Probably doesn't belong on the list for his overall accomplishments, but Red Sox fans will tell you his one stolen base in the 2004 ALCS was one of the biggest moments in baseball history.
10. Matt Young. Might not belong, either, but he's the only UCLA pitcher ever to make an All-Star team. With Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, here's guessing he doesn't hold that distinction very long.
The complete list of big-league players from UCLA (or any other school) can be found at baseball-reference.com.
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