Well it is officially time for MARCH MALARKEY! (March Malarkey is not a registered trademark with the National Collegiate Athletic Association and has no connection or affiliation with any sports competition or athletic tournament) This three week period is my favorite time of year. It begins with the culmination of my second-favorite sport, and ends with the beginning of my favorite sport. Add in spring break, St. Patrick's Day, the first day of spring, and occasionally Easter (and Passover for our Jewish friends!), and you got yourself non-stop late March/early April fun.
Let's take a look at some Royals who hooped it up in college, and consider this a college basketball off-topic open thread.
Jerry Adair, Oklahoma State
Adair was the Royals starting second baseman in their inaugural season in 1969, after a long career as a sure-handed infielder for the Baltimore Orioles. Adair collected over 1000 hits in a thirteen-year MLB career, but before he was handling ground balls, he played for the legendary Hank Iba at Oklahoma State (then Oklahoma A&M).
Adair was a rare starter as a sophomore, teaming up in the backcourt with future Hall of Fame coach Eddie Sutton. He was second on the team in scoring his junior year and finished among the nation's leaders in free-throw percentage. In the NCAA tournament, Adair combined for 33 points in three games, as the Cowboys reached the Midwest Region Finals, losing to Kansas State. That summer, Adair signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a junior and went straight to the big leagues as a "bonus baby."
Dave Frost, Stanford
Frost was a 6'6'' forward for Stanford, averaging ten points and four rebounds per game from 1971-1974. During his senior year he would be the team's second leading scorer, although he would play in only half of the team's games. Frost would have a six year MLB career, winning sixteen games for the Angels in 1979, and ending his career with 21 games pitched for the Royals in 1982.
Rich Gale, New Hampshire
Gale towered over his Royals teammates at 6'7'', but fit right in on the basketball court, where he earned a scholarship to the University of New Hampshire. He averaged six points a game for the Wildcats from 1972-1976, including 8.6 points per game his junior year.
Gale would leave the basketball court to become a fifth round draft pick for the Royals. He would win 14 games his rookie season, and 42 overall for the Royals, and would start two games of the 1980 World Series.
Atlee Hammaker, East Tennessee State
Hammaker was born in California, went to high school in northern Virginia, so he of course attended college in mid-Tennessee. Hammaker went to East Tennessee State on a basketball scholarship, and averaged five points per game off the bench in his freshman and sophomore seasons as a guard off the bench. The baseball coach there asked him to try out for the baseball team, and once he saw Hammaker throw, predicfted he would be a first round pick. He was right. Hammaker was taken in the first round by the Royals and was later dealt as part of the Vida Blue trade. He was an All-Star in 1983 and won 59 games in a twelve year career.
Gail Hopkins, Pepperdine
Hopkins stood just 5'10'', but that didn't prevent him from playing guard and averaging 2.5 points per game for the Waves. Hopkins was more prolific on the baseball field, eventually playing three seasons as a first baseman for the Royals in their early years. But his most prolific accomplishments came in the classroom as he is said to be the only Major Leaguer to have a medical degree and PhD.
Lynn Jones, Thiel College (Penn.)
Tiny Thiel College was a perfect fit for Jones, who stood just 5'9''. Jones played guard for the Division III Tomcats, nestled in northwest Pennsylvania. Jones would later become a journeyman Major League outfielder who was on the championship club in 1985.
Art Kusnyer, Kent State
Kusnyer was a journeyman catcher who played nine games for the Royals in 1978. Prior to that, he was the third leading scorer for the Golden Flashes in 1965-1966.
Joe LaHoud, New Haven
LaHoud was another journeyman outfielder who spent the tail end of his career with the Royals, but did make a start in the 1977 American League Championship Series against the Yankees. When LaHoud attended New Haven, he played for both the baseball and basketball clubs. But when he was kicked off the baseball team for giving the coach some lip, he quit school entirely and signed with the Red Sox.
Jerry Martin, Furman
Martin was a standout at Furman after transferring from Spartanburg Community College. He was the Paladins' second leading scorer his junior year and was named Southern League Tournament MVP in 1971. He would score just five points in his only NCAA tournament appearance Furman was blown out by a Digger Phelps-led Fordham club. Martin would go on to enjoy an eleven year Major League career as an outfielder, two with the Royals, although his claim to fame was being involved in the infamous drug arrests of the 1980s that involved Vida Blue and Willie Wilson.
Dennis Rasmussen, Creighton
Rasmussen was a sharpshooter off the bench for the Jays, averaging five points a game as a 6'1'' guard. He would play against the likes of Larry Bird, Hersey Hawkins, and Mark Aguirre. His freshman year, the Jays would suffer a tough first-round loss to DePaul in 1978. The southpaw would win 91 games in the big leagues, including a few at the end of his career for the Royals from 1992-1995.
Steve Renko, Kansas
Renko, a native of Kansas City, Kansas, was an all-around athlete in Lawrence, playing for the basketball, football, and baseball teams, the last Jayhawk to letter in all three sports. He averaged ten points a game playing for coach Dick Harp, before quitting after his sophomore year to concentrate on quarterbacking the football team. Meanwhile, he was becoming a good enough baseball prospect to get drafted by the Montreal Expos. He chose to play for them, turning down a contract offer from the Oakland Raiders, and went on to enjoy a fourteen year MLB career, ending it with his hometown Royals in 1983.
Ted Savage, Lincoln (Mo.)
Savage was a career backup outfielder who spent nineteen games with the Royals in 1971. Before that he led Lincoln, a historically-black school based in Jefferson City, in scoring as a starting guard.
Paul Splittorff, Morningside College
Splittorff didn't just broadcast college basketball, he had played the sport as well. The tall, lanky lefty was the Chiefs' second-leading scorer with 15 points per game his junior year. When Split wasn't starring on the court at the NAIA Division II school based in Sioux City, he was standing out on the baseball field. He would become the first Royals draftee to ever make the Major Leagues, then go on to win 166 games in his career and become one of the most beloved players in franchise history.
Your Final Four Questions
1. What current Royals player would make for the best basketball player?
2. What will be the Royals "One Shining Moment" in 2013?
3. What is your tournament upset pick?
4. What are your Final Four and National Champion picks?