The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 23, 1989, Page 16, Image 16

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    Sanders says past pro play is beneficial
By Jerry Guenther
Staff Reporter__
From his high school playing days
at Grand Island to the winning tradi
tion he has brought to the Nebraska
baseball program, John Sanders
knows what it takes to be successful.
Sanders, who took over the Ne
braska baseball coaching duties in
1978, has averaged more than 43
wins per season while leading the
Comhuskers to three NCAA regional
His career record of 474-213 ranks
first at Nebiaska in victories, as does
his career winning percentage of
Sanders, who spent the latter half
of the 1960s playing professional
baseball in the minor leagues, said he
credits part of his success to his play
ing career. He played for the then
Kansas City A’s for part of the 1965
season, appearing in one game as a
pinch runner for Joe Rudi.
‘‘I was OK, but I wasn’t great,”
Sanders said. ‘‘Otherwise, I’d be a
retired millionaire.”
One team Sanders played for in
the minor leagues was Jacksonville,
AAA form rlnh rtf thp M/>u/ Vftrlr
Mets. The 1966 Jacksonville team
featured Tom Seaver, who later went
on to star with the Mets and the Cin
cinnati Reds.
Sanders said he uses his profes
sional baseball experience to help
him in his coaching career at Ne
“I learned at the lime that you can
learn a lot about the game just analyz
ing it/’ Sanders said. “Even during
the times when you’re not playing.’’
Sanders’ baseball career began in
1964 when he signed a contract with
current St. Louis manager Whitey
Herzog, who used to be a scout with
the A’s. He said Herzog went on to
have a big impact on his coaching
“Whitey was a guy that would
take the time to work with an average
player to try and make him better,’’
Sanders said.
“I learned a lesson from that and I
try to carry that through today.
Before Sanders signed his profes
sional baseball contract, he was
named the Nebraska Prep Athlete of
the Year during his senior year at
Grand Island High School. He also
earned All-State honors in football
and basketball, and set a state record
in the discus throw.
His talents made him a highly
touted recruit in baseball and several
other sports.
Bob Dcvaney, the current Ne
braska athletic director who served as
the Huskers’ football coach from
1962-72, said he offered Sanders a
scholarship to play quarterback.
“I knew he was outstanding,”
Devaney said. ‘‘I told him he could
play both sports (football and base
ball), but he didn’t accept a scholar
Sanders said he declined Dcva
ney’s scholarship offer because he
enjoyed baseball more than football.
He said he thought he would have a
better chance of playing profession
ally in baseball than any other sport.
Devaney said he did not have any
reservations about hiring Sanders
even though the Nebraska coach had
already turned down one offer to
become a Husker. Sanders replaced
Tony Sharpe, who retired after the
1977 season.
“There was no doubt in my mind
that when Tony retired, John was the
man to step in and replace him,”
Devaney said.
Devaney said Sanders has an opti
mistic attitude that rubs off on the
players who go through the baseball
“I’d give a great deal to see John
win a Big Eight championship. He
works so hard and he deserves it,”
Devaney said. * ‘ It would only be fair,
but things in this world do not always
work out fairly.”
Oklahoma Slate coach Gary Ward
said he has great respect for the Ne
braska program. He said he always
considers the Huskers a “threat” for
the Big Eight championship.
Ward said one factor that might be
keeping Sanders from winning a
conierencc uue is me luuiuauicm »
site. The Big Eight tournament is
held annually in Oklahoma City,
Okla., which is about 50 miles from
Oklahoma State’s campus in Stillwa
ter, Okla. Oklahoma State has won
eight straight conference titles.
“In essence, it’s tough to beat
Oklahoma State in the Big Eight
tournament since we have an edge
from the crowd,’’ Ward said.
Ward said Nebraska’s success can
be traced to quality coaching and
equally good players. He said Sand
ers does a good job of recruiting de
spite Nebraska’s cold weather.
“I think it would be very difficult
to follow in Sanders’ footsteps,’’
Ward said. “I don’t know if I’d want
Wichita Stale coach Gene
Stephenson agreed.
“I think his record speaks for it
self,’’ Stephenson said.
Pete O’Brien, a former Nebraska
standout who now plays for the
Cleveland Indians, said Sanders
works on developing confident atti
tudes in his players. He said that atti
tude helps on and off the field.
4 C niAflrc OC fiorsi QC
I’ve seen anybody in baseball work,’ ’
O’Brien said. “He tells his players
not to let anything get them down.’’
O’Brien said Sanders’ lessons
helped him make the major leagues.
He said they also helped him in his
personal life.
“You’re going to find out how
good of a manager he’s going to be,
because he’s concerned about the
players’ personal lives,’’ O’Brien
said. “That’s a sign of a good man
Nebraska outfielder Ken Ramos
and shortstop Ken Sirak said Sanders
is willing to take lime out from his
personal life in order to help his play
“His door is always open,’’ Ra
mos said. “He treats us just like
Sirak agreed.
“He’s been like a father away
David Fahle son/Daily Nebraskan
Nebraska baseball coach John Sanders explains the finer
points of hitting.
|——— | ———
I- 1
_ - - m in ■ m—g -nm r
Kenita Kobmson prepares to compete
in Big 8 indoor track championships
By Darran Fowler
Staff Reporter
The last major meet of the indoor
track season will be the first colle
giate competition this year for Ne
braska three-time All-America selec
tion Renita Robinson.
Robinson said
she is excited about
competing in the
Big Eight indoor
track and field
championships this
weekend at the Bob
Devaney Sports
Center. She hasn’t ROBINSON
competed in a meet since she won the
U.S. Olympic Trials exhibition triple
jump in July.
Robinson missed all of the indoor
competition leading up to the Big
Eight championships because of an
injured nerve in her back, which
occurred while she was lifting
weights. She said her recovery from
the injury was a slow and tedious
m •
process because it was in an area that
controlled a lot of her movement.
“My flexibility was really ham
pered by the injury,” Robinson said.
But, she said, the long layoff may
have worked in her favor.
“I think it’s a benefit more than
anything,” Robinson said. “It makes
me more excited for one thing be
cause I haven’t competed in so long.
Also my adrenaline is really (lowing
... adrenaline that hasn’t been used
up in a long time.”
Robinson said her excitement
isn’t based entirely on her return. She
said the fact that there is a lot at stake
at the conference meet also excites
Robinson said the Nebraska
women, who have captured every
indoor and outdoor Big Eight title of
this decade, arc looking to cap that
string this weekend. She said the
entire team can feel pressure because
the task won’t be easy.
“It’s a special year because it can
mean 10 years in a row,” she said.
1 *
“But wc have to be very careful. We
have to compete at our best in all
areas because it doesn’t look as favor
able as it has in the past.”
Nebraska track coach Gary Pepin
said Robinson’s return is important.
He said Robinson, who holds the
conference record in the triple jump
with a leap of 44-fect, 6-inches,
should not be affected by her long
“Even though she missed a lot of
training, she still trained hard through
the summer,” Pepin said.
He said there is a possibility that
Robinson and teammate Joanne
Gome/, could sweep the Big Eight
championships top two spots in the
triple jump. He said there is also an
outside chance Robinson could place
in the long jump.
Robinson said her goal is to im
prove on her leap of 41 -5 that won her
the Big Eight championships triple
jump title last year. She said she is
confident that she can better that
mark because she had a sore ankle at
this time last year.
tennis team to play here this weekend
By I'aul Uomeier
Staff Reporter
Professional-level lennis will be
played in five collegiate dual matches
in Lincoln this weekend, Nebraska
men’s lennis coach Kerry McDer
mott said.
McDermott said Wednesday that
if people really want to sec good
collegiate lennis, they should attend
Nebraska’s matches against Wiscon
sin, Wichita State and Southwest
Missouri State. The matches will take
place this weekend at the Woods
Park “double-bubble” indoor courts.
Nebraska will open its home spring
season by facing Wisconsin at S p.m.
Friday, then will battle Southwest
Missouri State at 9 a.m. Saturday.
i he c omhuskers, 2-2, will close
out their weekend by lacing Wichita
State at 5 p.m. Saturday. Wisconsin
will lace Southwest Missouri Slate at
1 p.m. Saturday and Wichita Stale at
8 a.m. Sunday.
McDermott said he is cautiously
optimistic entering the tournament.
A 7th-placc finish at the 16-team
Nevada Bob’s Tennis Tournament last
woekend in Las Vegas, Nev., prompted
his optimism, he said. McDermott
criticized his team after the tourna
ment for being inconsistent.
McDermott said he is looking for
ward to facing Wisconsin because
they won the same number of matches
as Nebraska last fall in a flighted
tournament. He said he is anxious to
sec how Nebraska’s two new players
-- No. 3-singlcs player Mathias Muller
and reserve Joseph Rahnie - fare
against Wisconsin. Muller and Rahnie
joined the team at the start of the
second semester.
McDermott said Southwest Mis
souri Stale and Wichna Slate are similar
to each other. He said Southwest
Missouri Stale may have a slight tal
ent advantage because of the Bears
No. 1-singles player, Hackan Svensson.
Svensson has beaten Steven Jung,
Nebraska’s No. 1-singles player, twice
in three-set matches.
‘ ‘There is potential for a couple of
these players to turn pro,” he said.
‘‘A lot of these players you may sec
down the road.”
Nebraska is anxious to play at home
again, McDermott said.