We often talk about the best college baseball players ever and the talent they shared, but the best college baseball teams ever knew how to win and they did it often. They didn’t always feature the best up-and-coming players, but they learned to dominate as a collective.
College baseball dates back to July 1, 1859 when Amherst College and Williams College played in the world’s first college baseball game. It was a turning point in the history of baseball and it occurred a full 18 years before the MLB’s first season — 44 years before the first World Series.
Through the years, the game of baseball has changed drastically since that first game in 1859. The rules are different, the players are more talented, and the league is more competitive than ever before. Winning doesn’t come easy, which is why celebrate those that do it consistently.
What Are the Best College Baseball Teams Ever?
Every year, the two best college baseball teams meet head-to-head at the NCAA Men’s College World Series and only one team will walk away a champion. With 74 College World Series champions since 1947, which champions are considered the best college baseball teams ever?
These are the teams that dominated their season better than anyone else. They played well together, they played for each other, and they didn’t play hero or selfish baseball. They understood what it took to win at the college baseball level and they proved it each game.
With so many factors to consider and so many great teams to choose from, narrowing them down to the top-20 won’t be easy. A lot of good teams will be left off the list and there will be plenty of difficult decisions to make, but let’s take a look at the best college baseball teams ever!
20. 2003 Rice Owls
Head Coach: Wayne Graham
Best Players: Dane Bubela, Enrique Cruz, Austin Davis, Philip Humber, Paul Janish, Jeff Jorgensen, Chris Kolkhorst, Jeff Niemann, Justin Ruchti, Vincent Sinisi, Wade Townsend
Championship: 4-3 (W), 3-8 (L), 14-2 (W) over Stanford Cardinal
The 2003 Rice Owls baseball team started the season 3-1 before going on a 30-game winning streak that spanned from February 18th until April 9. They would finish the regular season with a 48-10 record, go 3-0 in the Houston Regional, and 2-1 in the Houston Super Regional.
After defeating SW Missouri State and Texas in the World Series, the Owls defeated Stanford Cardinal in a best-of-three series to win the championship and bring their overall record to 58-12. Enrique Cruz and Vincent Sinisi had 10 home runs and Jeff Niemann went 17-0 in 18 starts.
19. 1957 Cal Golden Bears
Head Coach: George Wolfman
Best Players: Earl Robinson, Charles Thompson, Doug Weiss
Championship: 4-0 (W), 8-2 (W), 8-0 (W), 9-1 (W), 1-0 (W)
The 1957 Cal Golden Bears were led by George Wolfman, one of the greatest college baseball coaches in history. They went 35-10 on their way to winning their first national championship in school history. They outscored opponents 30-3 in five games in the College World Series.
Doug Weiss was named team MVP after setting records in wins (14), complete games (12), and innings pitched (149.0) — all of which still stand today. He also set records in strikeouts (107) and ERA (1.51), both of which have since been surpassed by other Cal players.
18. 1992 Pepperdine Waves
Head Coach: Andy Lopez
Best Players: Pat Ahearne, Steve Duda, David Main, Dan Melendez, Steve Montgomery, Steve Rodriguez, Chris Sheff, Scott Vollmer, Derek Wallace
Championship: 6-0 (W), 7-0 (W), 5-4 (W), 3-2 (W)
The 1992 Pepperdine Waves finished the regular season 40-10-1 and won their final 12 games as they prepared for the West Regional. They won four of five games in the West Regional and opened the College World Series off with two-straight shutouts against Wichita State and Texas.
The final two games of the College World Series weren’t as easy, winning 5-4 against Texas and 3-2 against Cal State Fullerton in the final. Later that year, Derek Wallace was drafted 11th overall by the Chicago Cubs and Dan Melendez was drafted 57th overall by the LA Dodgers.
17. 2002 Texas Longhorns
Head Coach: Augie Garrido
Best Players: Jeff Ontiveros, Jarrett Reininger, Dustin Majewski, Justin Simmons, Alan Bomer, Brad Halsey, Ryan Hubele
Championship: 2-1 (W), 8-7 (W), 6-5 (W), 12-6 (W)
The 2002 Texas Longhorns finished the regular season 43-13, including a 19-8 record in the Big 12. They held winning streaks of eight and ten games during the season, proving to be a streaky team. After losing their first game of the Big 12 Tournament, they won their next five games.
The Longhorns then went 3-0 in the Austin Regional and 2-1 in the Austin Super Regional before arriving at the College World Series. After winning three close games, Texas defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks in the series final thanks to a high-powered offense that scored 12 runs.
16. 1996 LSU Tigers
Head Coach: Skip Bertman
Best Players: Eddie Yarnall, Warren Morris, Brad Wilson, Jason Williams, Chad Cooley, Tim Lanier, Kevin Shipp, Mike Koerner
Championship: 9-8 (W), 9-4 (W), 2-1 (W), 9-8 (W)
The LSU Tigers had won the College World Series in 1991 and 1993, so they had already established themselves as a dominant team well ahead of the 1996 championship. They opened the season on a 13-game win streak and ended the regular season with a record of 43-13.
While the Tigers failed to win the SEC Championship, they went 4-0 in the South II Regional and 4-0 again in the College World Series. The national championship game against Miami was a thriller, ending 9-8 in favor of LSU after Warren Morris hit a home run in walk-off fashion.
15. 1975 Texas Longhorns
Head Coach: Cliff Gustafson
Best Players: Rick Bradley, Martin Flores, Jim Gideon, Keith Moreland, Gary Pyka, Mickey Reichenbach, Blair Stouffer, Rich Wortham
Championship: 4-2 (W), 2-5 (L), 12-10 (W), 17-6 (W), 5-1 (W)
Known for their dominant pitching rotation, the 1975 Texas Longhorns finished the regular season 49-5 — including winning streaks of 15 and 18 games in March and April. The Longhorns then went 3-0 in the South Central Regional, outscoring opponents 21-8 in the process.
After defeating Oklahoma in their first game of the College World Series, the Longhorns lost 2-5 to Arizona State. The team quickly recovered, winning their next three games — including outscoring South Carolina 22-7 in the final two games of the 1992 College World Series.
14. 2012 Arizona Wildcats
Head Coach: Andy Lopez
Best Players: Rob Refsnyder, Bobby Fisher-Brown, Alex Meija, Johnny Field, Seth Meijas-Brean, Kurt Heyer, Konner Wade
Championship: 4-3 (W), 4-0 (W), 10-3 (W), 5-1 (W), 4-1 (W)
The 2012 Arizona Wildcats didn’t have any batters hit more than five home runs all season long, but they knew how to win and had quality pitching from the start. After finishing the regular season 38-18, Arizona went 3-0 in the Tucson Regional and 2-0 in the Tucson Super Regional.
In five games at the College World Series, the Wildcats outscored opponents 27-8 en route to winning each game. They finished the NCAA Tournament 10-0 and had five players drafted within the first nine rounds of the 2012 draft — three of which have since made MLB debuts.
13. 1968 USC Trojans
Head Coach: Rod Dedeaux
Best Players: Jim Barr, Reid Braden, Pat Harrison, Bill Lee, Chuck Ramshaw, Bill Seinsoth, Steve Sogge
Championship: 5-3 (W), 6-5 (W), 7-6 (W), 2-0 (W), 4-3 (W)
The USC Trojans had already won championships in 1961 and 1963 before winning their third of the decade in 1968. The team finished the regular season 35-11-1 before defeating Cal State of Los Angeles in a best-of-three series (4-2 W, 4-8 L, 5-4 W) at the 1968 District 8 Playoffs.
The Trojans would win all five games at the College World Series, though they didn’t win any of them by more than two runs. They were no stranger to close games, proving to be clutch when they needed it most. They had 11 players drafted in the 1968 regular and secondary drafts.
12. 1951 Oklahoma Sooners
Head Coach: Jack Baer
Best Players: Jack Shirley, John Reddell, Phil McKee, Gene Sheets, Charley Pugsley, Ray Morgosh, Floyd Murphy, Jim Waldrip
Championship: 9-8 (W), 7-1 (W), 4-1 (W), 3-2 (W)
The 1951 Oklahoma Sooners baseball team helped the campus become the first school to win three national championships in the same year — their football team and wrestling team won it in 1951, as well. They weren’t expected to have a good season, but ultimately prevailed in the end.
They would go on to defeat Houston in three-straight games at the District Playoffs, outscoring the team 13-8 in the process. The Oklahoma Sooners then beat Ohio State, Springfield, and Southern California before defeating Tennessee 3-2 in the national championship game.
11. 1947 Cal Golden Bears
Head Coach: Clint Evans
Best Players: Lyle Palmer, Jackie Jensen, Cliff McClain, Virgil Butler, John Ramos, Nino Barnise, Jim Brown, Dick Larner
Championship: 17-4 (W), 8-7 (W)
The first College World Series ever took place in 1947 and the Cal Golden Bears were the first to be named champions. They finished the regular season 27-10 before moving on to the Western Playoff. There, they defeated Denver 3-1 and Texas 13-2 before the World Series.
The Golden Bears opened the World Series with a dominant 17-4 victory over Yale and followed that up with a close 8-7 victory the following day. They finished the season with an overall record of 31-10 and will forever be remembered as the first ever College World Series champions.
10. 2000 LSU Tigers
Head Coach: Skip Bertman
Best Players: Blair Barbier, Brad Cresse, Mike Fontenot, Cedrick Harris, Brad Hawpe, Trey Hodges, Bo Petit, Wally Pontiff, Brian Tallet, Ryan Theriot
Championship: 13-5 (W), 10-4 (W), 6-3 (W), 6-5 (W)
The 2000 LSU Tigers opened the season with six straight wins, but went on a five-game losing streak to bring their record to 6-5 early on in the year. They had an 11-8 record by mid-March, but would win 18 of their next 20 games — bringing their record to 29-10 by mid-April.
They would finish the regular season 39-17 before getting hot in the postseason. They went 4-0 in the SEC Tournament, 3-0 in the Baton Rouge Regional, and 2-0 in the Baton Rouge Super Regional. They continued their win streak into the World Series, winning all four games.
9. 1978 USC Trojans
Head Coach: Rod Dedeaux
Best Players: Bill Bordley, Rod Boxberger, Dave Engle, Brian Hayes, Dave Hostetler, Chris Smith, Doug Stokke, Tim Tolman, Dave Van Gorder, John Wells
Championship: 9-3 (W), 11-3 (W), 5-2 (W), 3-2 (W), 10-3 (W)
The 1978 USC Trojans will go down as one of the best college baseball teams ever, finishing the regular season 44-9 in Rod Dedeaux’s 37th year as head coach. The team had winning streaks of 12 games and 15 games, finishing the regular season with a 15-3 record in the Pac-8.
The Trojans went 2-0 in the Pacific-8 Playoffs and 3-0 in the District 8 Playoffs. In five games at the College World Series, the USC Trojans outscored their opponents 38-13 and won all games en route to their 11th national championship. They went a perfect 10-0 in the NCAA Tournament.
8. 1987 Stanford Cardinal
Head Coach: Mark Marquess
Best Players: Rubén Amaro, Steve Chitren, Paul Carey, David Esquer, Mark Machtolf, Jack McDowell, Ed Sprague
Championship: 3-2 (W), 6-1 (W), 2-6 (L), 6-5 (W), 9-3 (W), 9-5 (W)
The 1987 Stanford Cardinal baseball team finished the regular season with a 44-16 overall record and 21-9 Pac-10 record. They started the season 11-8, but won 33 of their next 41 games. Ed Sprague led the team with 16 home runs, while Paul Carey added 12 more.
Five batters finished with more than 50 RBIs on the season and five pitchers finished with more than seven wins. It was a well-rounded team that went 4-0 in the West I Regional and 5-1 in the College World Series, eventually getting their revenge over Oklahoma State in the June 7th final.
7. 1977 Arizona State Sun Devils
Head Coach: Jim Brock
Best Players: Jamie Allen, Chris Bando, Hubie Brooks, Mike Henderson, Bob Horner, Dave Hudgens, Brandt Humphry, Darrell Jackson, Chris Nyman, Rick Peters, Jerry Vasquez
Championship: 10-7 (W), 2-3 (L), 8-4 (W), 6-2 (W), 10-0 (W), 2-1 (W)
The 1977 Arizona State Sun Devils knew it was going to be a good year when they began the season 10-0. They would then close out the regular season on a 15-game winning streak. Bob Horner led the team with 22 home runs and 87 RBIs, while Dave Hudgens had 73 RBIs.
The Sun Devils got the postseason off to a good start, winning all three games of the Rocky Mountain Regional. After a 10-7 win over Clemson in the College World Series opener, the Sun Devils lost to Southern Illinois. They won their next four games, outscoring their opponents 26-7.
6. 1973 USC Trojans
Head Coach: Rod Dedeaux
Best Players: Rich Dauer, Ken Huizenga, Ed Putnam, Randy Scarbery, Roy Smalley
Championship: 4-1 (W), 4-1 (W). 3-1 (W), 8-7 (W), 4-3 (W)
This is the third time we’re mentioning one of Rod Dedeaux’s USC baseball teams and for good reason. He had them among the nation’s best consistently throughout his 45-year career with the team. In our eyes, his 1973 USC Trojans were one of the best college baseball teams ever.
The team started the season 12-0 before losing three-straight to Arizona State. It was the only time they would lose consecutive games all year long, finishing the regular season 40-11. They then went 10-0 in the NCAA Tournament, outscoring opponents 23-13 in the World Series.
5. 1997 LSU Tigers
Head Coach: Skip Bertman
Best Players: Brandon Larson, Mike Koerner, Doug Thompson, Patrick Coogan, Joey Painich, Eric Berthelot, Chris Demouy, Blair Barbier, Wes Davis, Tom Bernhardt, Eddy Furniss
Championship: 5-4 (W), 10-5 (W), 13-9 (W), 13-6 (W)
Skip Bertman is another coach that is finding himself on this list for a third time. His 1997 LSU Tigers will go down as one of the best college baseball teams ever. The team hit 188 home runs, which is an NCAA record, and hit at least one home run in all 70 games played in 1997.
The team was led by Brandon Larson, who hit 40 home runs, and Mike Koerner, who hit 22 home runs. The Tigers had nine different players hit more than 10 home runs and were led by Patrick Coogan (14-3), Doug Thompson (12-3), and Joey Painich (9-2) on the mound.
4. 2019 Vanderbilt Commodores
Head Coach: Tim Corbin
Best Players: J.J. Bleday, Stephen Scott, Julian Infante, Austin Martin, Ethan Paul, Philip Clarke, Pat DeMarco, Drake Fellows, Kumar Rocker, Patrick Raby, Mason Hickman
Championship: 3-1 (W), 6-3 (W), 3-2 (W), 4-7 (L), 4-1 (W), 8-2 (W)
It would be wrong to not mention the 2019 Vanderbilt Commodores as one of the best college baseball teams ever. They finished the regular season with a 45-10 overall record and 23-7 record in the SEC. They won 18 of their last 19 games, including 13 straight at one point.
The Commodores won the SEC Tournament after going 4-0 and outscoring opponents 36-15. They then went 3-0 in the Nashville Regional, 2-1 in the Nashville Super Regional, and 5-1 in the College World Series. J.J. Bleday led the team with 27 home runs and Stephen Scott had 14.
3. 2001 Miami Hurricanes
Head Coach: Jim Morris
Best Players: Kevin Brown, Danny Matienzo, Charlton Jimerson, Javier Rodriguez, Kevin Howard, Mike Rodriguez, Tom Farmer, Brain Walker, Kiki Bengochea
Championship: 21-13 (W), 4-3 (W), 12-6 (W), 12-1 (W)
The 2001 Miami Hurricanes finished the regular season with a 44-12 record, which included five win streaks of at least five games and a win in each of their last eight games. IF Kevin Brown led the team with 15 home runs and C Danny Matienzo led the team with 64 runs batted in.
On the mound, Tom Farmer finished the season 15-2 and Brian Walker finished 12-1. The team went 3-0 in the Coral Gables Regional, 2-0 in the Coral Gables Super Regional, and 4-0 in the College World Series. The Hurricanes outscored their opponents 49-23 in the World Series.
2. 1995 Cal State Fullerton Titans
Head Coach: Augie Garrido
Best Players: C.J. Ankrum, Mark Kotsay, Jack Jones, Brain Loyd, Tony Martinez, Tony Miranda, Ted Silva
Championship: 6-5 (W), 11-1 (W), 11-0 (W), 11-5 (W)
This isn’t the first time Augie Garrido is being featured on this list, but it’s the first as head coach of the Cal State Fullerton Titans. Seven years before his impressive run with the 2002 Texas Longhorns, Garrido helped lead Cal State Fullerton to a 57-9 overall record (18-3 in Big West).
After winning the final seven games of the regular season, the Titans continued that win streak into the playoffs. They went 3-0 in the Big West Tournament and 4-0 in the South Regional before winning all four games in the World Series, ending the year on a 18-game win streak.
1. 1983 Texas Longhorns
Head Coach: Cliff Gustafson
Best Players: Roger Clemens, Calvin Schiraldi, Mike Brumley, Billy Bates, Jeff Hearron, Kirk Killingsworth, Jose Tolentino
Championship: 12-0 (W), 6-5 (W), 6-4 (W), 4-2 (W), 4-3 (W)
This is the third time we’re mentioning a Texas Longhorns team and the second time we’re mentioning a team coached by Cliff Gustafson. The 1983 Texas Longhorns finished the regular season 49-12 — including 18-3 in the Big 12. They won 13 of their last 15 regular season games.
The Longhorns then went 3-1 in the SWC Tournament, 5-1 in the Central Regional, and 5-0 in the College World Series. Roger Clemens and Calvin Schiraldi were drafted in the first round of the 1983 MLB Draft, Mike Brumley went in the second round, and Jeff Hearron in the fourth.
What Are the Best College Baseball Programs of All-Time?
It’s no coincidence that the best college baseball teams ever are also some of the best college baseball programs ever. They didn’t just put together some of the best teams of all-time, but they did so consistently and are still doing it to this day. Everyone wants to play for them.
Over college baseball’s more than 160-year history, the best college baseball programs include USC, Texas, LSU, Arizona State, Stanford, Cal State Fullerton, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, Florida, Clemson, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, and Arkansas.
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With college baseball not going anywhere anytime soon, we’re sure to see more colleges earn their right among the nation’s best college baseball teams ever. For now, we have a ton of history to reminisce about, so let’s go ahead and celebrate the best college baseball teams ever!
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