The definitive history...
Baseball was the first organized team sport ever to be played at Rutgers. On May 2, 1866, the baseball team faced off against Princeton in the school's first official intercollegiate athletic event. While it may have been a moment to remember, the scorecard shows it was a game to forget, as Rutgers dropped the contest 40-2. Baseball continued to be a popular sport on campus throughout the 19th century.
The first Rutgers ballplayer to make the major leagues was John Harkins, a chemistry student who pitched and played the outfield. He played three years of local minor-league ball before joining the Cleveland Blues of the National League in 1884. Harkins (left) led the NL with 32 losses and 48 wild pitches that season, but he showed enough talent to pitch four more seasons for Brooklyn and Baltimore, winning a total of 51 games.
During his playing days, Harkins helped tutor college players at Lehigh, Princeton and Yale. He later was hired as Yale’s full-time baseball coach. One spring, he convinced a Yale outfielder to mover to the pitching mound and gave him helpful some pitching tips. The two became lifelong friends. That student was Amos Alonzo Stagg.
The first official baseball manager at Rutgers was Frank Gorton, who led the school’s nine in 1907. At the time, Gorton also served as head coach of the Rutgers basketball and football teams.
Rutgers's most successful season on the diamond came in 1950, under manager George Case, a former Major League outfielder. In Case's first year at the helm, he guided the squad to its only College World Series appearance after a 17-4-1 season. On the field, Rutgers was led by All-Americans Hardy Peterson and Ray Van Cleef, as well as Jim Monahan, who would earn All-America honors two seasons later. In the World Series, Rutgers defeated defending champion Texas and also Wisconsin, finishing as a co-runner up. Van Cleef batted .458 in the CWS and took home the Most Valuable Player award. George Case would continue on as Rutgers's manager until 1960.
In 1984, the Fred Hill era began at Rutgers. After Hill led Montclair State to the 1983 College World Series, Rutgers knew he was the man they needed. In his 29-year tenure as manager, Hill forged a record of 941-658-7. He led the Scarlet Knights to an NCAA Tournament berth in 1986, ending a 16-year postseason drought. The following spring, Rutgers achieved the first 30-win season in program history. In 1990, Rutgers fell one game shy of the College World Series, losing to Georgia in the finals of the Northeast Regional. Georgia would go on to win the national championship. Between 1986 and 2010, the revitalized Scarlet Knights program boasted one or more players earning All-America recognition (1st, 2nd 3rd Team or Freshman honors) in all but nine seasons.
The Scarlet Knights moved up in the world in 1996 when they switched conferences from the Atlantic-10 to the Big East. Rutgers found success in its new conference, winning regular-season and conference tournament titles in 1998, 2000, and 2007; the Scarlet Knights also captured the conference tournament in 2003. The Scarlet Knights were the No. 1 seed and regional host in 2000, with games taking place in Upper Montclair at Yogi Berra Stadium. Rutgers was eliminated from that tournament after three games, winning one against Army, but falling to North Carolina and Penn State in the other two.
Hill retired following the 2013 season and was replaced by assistant coach Joe Litterio. Under Hill's guidance, Rutgers recorded three 40-win seasons, highlighted by a program-record 42 wins in 2001 and 2007. In 2014, Rutgers baseball annpunced it was joining the Big Ten Conference.
As of 2014, more than 20 Rutgers alums had played in the major leagues, including Jeff Torborg, Eric Young Sr., Joe Borowski, David DeJesus, Jason Bergmann and Todd Frazier. Famed hitting instructor Tom Emanski also played for the Scarlet Knights.
RUTGERS BASEBALL ALL-AMERICANS
Hardy Peterson • 1st Team • 1950 (played in majors)
Ray Van Cleef • 1st Team • 1951
James Monahan • 1st Team •1952
Pete Hall • 2nd Team • 1961
Pete Hall • 2nd Team • 1962
Jeff Torborg • 1st Team • 1963 (played in majors)
Joe Lynch • 3rd team • 1986
Glen Gardner • 3rd Team • 1987
Jim Kohl • 3rd Team • 1990
Doug Alongi • 3rd Team • 1993
Mike Higgins • 3rd Team • 1993
Scott Madison • 3rd Team • 1996
Mike O’Brien • Freshman AA • 1997
Jake Daubert • Freshman AA • 1998
Pete Zoccolillo • 3rd Team • 1998
Pete Zoccolillo • 2nd Team • 1999
Darren Fenster • 3rd Team • 1999
Darren Fenster • 1st Team • 2000
Bobby Brownlie • Freshman AA • 2000
Billy McCarthy • 2nd Team • 2001
Jeff Frazier • Freshman AA • 2002 (played in majors)
Todd Frazier • Freshman AA • 2005 (played in majors)
Todd Frazier • 1st team • 2007
Jaren Matthews • Freshman AA • 2008
Steve Nyisztor • Freshman AA • 2010
Tyler Gebler • Freshman AA • 2010
Pat Biserta • 3rd Team • 2010