Collected wisdom: Joel Horlen, former OSU baseball player

Interviewed by Berry Tramel, btramel@opubco.com Published: September 10, 2011

JOEL HORLEN, 74, San Antonio

Joel Horlen pitched Oklahoma State and coach Toby Greene to the 1959 College World Series championship, winning two games in Omaha. Then Horlen produced a 116-117 record over 12 major league seasons, including a 19-7 record with a 2.06 earned run average for the 1967 White Sox, who were part of one of baseball's greatest pennant races. Horlen also won a World Series game for the 1972 Oakland Athletics. Horlen, now 74, is believed to be the only person to play on teams that won the Pony League World Series, the College World Series and the major league World Series.

I was playing baseball when I was 11, playing YMCA baseball in San Antonio. Then I went to the Pony League. We won the World Series in Washington, Pa., with our Pony League team. We left San Antonio on a train, had a couple of parents with us. Went to Muscle Shoals, Ala., to play in a tournament and won that. Got back on the train and took it to Washington, Pa. I pitched a couple of games up there, the championship game.

Ben Bancroft's father had gone to Oklahoma State. We were both looking for schools. Mr. Bancroft called Mr. Greene, and he came down to San Antonio, watched us play in the Sunday Beer League. I was pitching, Ben was playing center field. I guess he liked what he saw. We drove up there, spent a couple of days up there, we were sold. I wanted to go to the University of Texas, but the coach didn't like me. He said I was too little to play on his team. Fortunately, things worked out.

Oklahoma State was very enjoyable. Bennett Hall was nice. Except one night when they turned on all the water and plugged up all the drains. Flooded our rooms. I don't know who did it, but they did it. Everybody was sweeping the water out. Our shoes were floating around the room.

I enjoyed school. I was there three years. During the season, it was a really a cold day. We were out there practicing. Had an intrasquad game. We were in our shorts because we pitchers weren't going to do anything. Batter got on first base, they put us on first base and had us steal. Had to slide with no pants on.

Toby Greene was a good coach. We had a real good time. We went to Colorado to play. Went in personal cars. Four guys to a car, sometimes five. You got gas mileage. I had never seen a pheasant before in my life. Coming back, one ran out, we hit it. Really a pretty bird.

Always something going on. We really had a good team. No bitterness. Had some good players at every position. We've had a couple of reunions. I've gone back for those. See some of the old guys. Had a good time.

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