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.
The 1967 pennant race? It was — I'm trying to think of the word — nervous all the time. We had a pretty good club. We just kind of ran out of gas at the end. Our hitting fell off.
Every game is important. You don't go out there and go through the motions. You're fighting for the pennant. Try not to make any mistakes.
We had a good pitching staff. Led the league in four or five different categories. I still didn't get pitcher of the year award.
I faced a bunch of good hitters. Tony Oliva won the batting title every year. That's about the only guy I can remember that I really didn't like facing. I know I gave up enough hits to everybody else. He was by far the best. I tried to hit him one time, right in the neck. He just stepped to the side and hit a double down the left-field line.
With Charlie Finley's Athletics, oh yeah, there were fights amongst guys at times. But nothing really serious. They really played well together. Everybody on that team was an all-star. Man, they were good.
Winning all those different World Series, they're all good. The major league World Series was more boisterous. We poured 100 bottles of Champagne on each other. Then had to get back on the airplane and go back to Oakland. The party continued on the airplane. We got in about 2 o'clock in the morning. Opened a couple of bars for us there, then celebrated some more. Had to be at the park at 8 o'clock in the morning and be ready for the parade. They served cocktails there, too.
When I retired, I got calls to coach, mostly in the minor leagues. I just kind of got away from it for awhile. Played a lot of golf, did some traveling. I've followed baseball a little bit. Still had some friends playing. Just kind of got away from it for awhile.
Ended up coaching in the minors for a number of years. But I always came back to San Antonio. When I finally retired for good, I made sure I was here all year round. Did a lot of hunting, playing golf. Fishing. Just had a good time.