Jan. 3, 2007
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - When the West Coast Conference released its WCC/Rawlings 40th Anniversary Baseball Team today, it had LMU written all over it. Seven Lions were selected to the all-time All-WCC team, commemorating the league's 40 years of baseball. LMU baseball ranked second among the conference's eight current members, placing the seven players on the squad.
With 87 WCC names on the ballot, seven Lions were among the final 40 honorees: Billy Bean (1983-1986), Miah Bradbury (1987-1990), Joe Ciccarella (1989-1991), Chris Donnels (1985-1987), Tim Layana (1983-1986), Russ Noah (1971-1973), and Billy Traber (1998-00). All seven were WCC Champions and NCAA Tournament participants while wearing the LMU uniform.
Three of the Lions' selections (Bean, Donnels, Layana) were members of LMU's 1986 College World Series squad, which will be inducted into the LMU Athletics Hall of Fame as a team January 19, 2007.
"The West Coast Conference is proud to announce the selection of the WCC/Rawlings 40th Anniversary Baseball Team," said Commissioner Michael Gilleran. "The west is traditionally one of the strongest regions in the nation for baseball, and our conference has competed successfully at a national level since 1968, which is a testament to the league's baseball coaches and the administrations that support our eight programs. I would like to recognize and commend the 40 individuals that were selected, and would like to thank Rawlings for their role in honoring these outstanding student athletes."
"Rawlings is proud of its long standing relationship with the West Coast Conference and is honored to be a part of this project," said Rawlings Western Regional Sales Manager Dave Bracci. "Rawlings hopes to continue its support of collegiate baseball nationwide."
Bean, an outfielder for the Lions, was a two-time first-team All-WCC selection. He earned the All-America distinction in both 1985 (Collegiate Baseball) and 1986 (ABCA). He was also a two-time first-team All-District selection.
Though he will be inducted again as part of the College World Series team, Bean is already an individual member of the LMU Athletics Hall of Fame. His jersey number 44 was also retired by LMU baseball.
Bean still holds the WCC record for single-season walks with 66. He also holds the LMU record in single-season runs scored with 84, a mark that ranks third in the WCC record book. Of the WCC's nine all-time career offensive categories, Bean ranks in the top-10 in five of them.
In 1985, he led LMU in RBI with 67. The following season, Bean helped guide the Lions to Omaha with a team-leading .355 average.
Following his standout LMU career, the Detroit Tigers selected him in the fourth round of the 1986 draft, and Bean went on to play for the Tigers in the majors from 1987-1989. He also spent time with Los Angeles (1989) and San Diego (1993-1995).
Bradbury joined the Lions in 1987, a season after the run to Omaha. The Lions' catcher was a three-time All-WCC first-team selection and was named a third-team All-American by Baseball America in 1989. He was the 1990 WCC Player of the Year and went on to earn second-team All-District honors that same season.
Already an LMU Hall of Famer, Bradbury is the WCC record-holder in career doubles (72) and single-season doubles (31). He also holds the LMU record in career at-bats (846), hits (306), doubles (72), and total bases (490).
In 1989, he led the Lions with a .398 average. The following season, he recorded a team-best 16 home runs and 66 RBI. Of the WCC's nine all-time career offensive categories, Bradbury ranks in the top-10 in four of them.
Ciccarella, the Lions' first baseman, was a first-team All-WCC selection in 1991. That season, he was recognized as an All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He was the 1991 WCC Player of the Year and a second-team All-District pick.
Ciccarella began his Lion career in 1989 and was crowned the WCC Freshman of the Year. He also earned second-team freshman All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball.
After his sophomore season, Ciccarella was selected to the USA Baseball National Team and spent the summer of 1990 playing for the Red, White, and Blue.
He is the LMU single-season record-holder with a .435 average in 1991, a mark that ranks third in the WCC. Ciccarella still ranks among the WCC all-time single-season leaders in three offensive categories.
Following his collegiate career, the Boston Red Sox selected Ciccarella in the fourth round of the 1991 MLB draft.
As the Lions' third baseman, Donnels was a three-time All-WCC first-team selection. In his rookie campaign, he received freshman All-America recognition by Baseball America. The next season, he was the WCC's Player of the Year and a second-team ABCA All-American as the Lions advanced to Omaha. In his three seasons at LMU, he was a first-team All-District pick in two of them.
Donnels is the WCC record-holder in career RBI (225), establishing that record in just three seasons of play. He also holds the WCC record in single-season RBI with 91 in 1986. In addition to those WCC and LMU records, he also is the Lions' all-time leader in home runs, with 45. Donnels still ranks among the WCC's single-season top-10 in four of nine offensive categories.
Following his career in a Lion uniform, Donnels went on to a lengthy tenure in MLB. He was a first round draft pick of the New York Mets in 1987 and played for the Mets from 1991-1992. He also spent time with the Astros (1993-1995), Dodgers (2000-01), and Diamondbacks (2002).
Another familiar name in LMU baseball is Layana, the Lions' right-handed pitcher. During the Lions' 1986 run to Omaha, Layana was named WCC Pitcher of the Year, a first-team All-WCC selection, and a second-team All-American by both Baseball America and the ABCA.
Layana was inducted into the LMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992. Tragically killed in an auto accident in 1999, Layana's jersey number 54 was posthumously retired by LMU baseball in 2000.
Layana is the WCC record-holder in innings pitched, tallying 511.0 innings of work. He also holds the LMU record for complete games (33), wins (35), and strikeouts (405). His 405 career strikeouts and 35 career wins rank second and fourth among WCC all-time leaders.
Following his collegiate career, Layana was a third round draft pick of the New York Yankees in 1986. He went on to play major league baseball for Cincinnati (1990-91) and San Francisco (1993). He went 5-3 with a 3.49 ERA for the 1990 World Series Champion Reds and finished his MLB career 5-5 with two saves in 78 appearances.
Noah, an outfielder for the Lions, was a two-time All-WCC first-team selection. He was the 1973 WCC Player of the Year, helping lead LMU to its first WCC title. That season, he was named a first-team All-American by the Sporting News. He was also a two-time first-team All-District pick.
He was inducted into the LMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986.
Noah is the LMU record-holder with a .387 career batting average, a mark that ranks second in the WCC. He also ranks fourth all-time among WCC single-season leaders with eight triples in 1972.
That same season, Noah led the Lions in average (.378), home runs (6), and RBI (42). He led the team in average (.399) again in 1973.
Noah was a third round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1973.
The seventh honoree is also the most recent to wear the LMU uniform. A left-handed pitcher, Traber spent three seasons at LMU, leading the Lions to WCC titles in each of them. He was a two-time All-WCC first-team selection and earned All-America distinction from Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA in both 1999 and 2000. Following the Lions' third straight conference championship in 2000, Traber was named the WCC's Pitcher of the Year.
He currently ranks third among WCC single-season strikeout leaders with 156 in 2000, the LMU school record. That effort propelled Traber to the fifth place ranking on the WCC's all-time career strikeout leaders list, as he tallied 338 in just three seasons.
For two seasons, he led the Lions in wins, ERA, and strikeouts.
The New York Mets made him a first round draft pick in 2000. Currently on the Washington Nationals' active roster, Traber also spent time with the Cleveland Indians, being traded before advancing to the majors with the Mets. With the Indians in 2003, Traber threw a complete game, one-hit shutout of the eventual American League Champion New York Yankees.
The ceremonial team features the top-40 players that participated at the collegiate level for West Coast Conference institutions since 1968. The list only includes individuals from the league's current membership, and each of the honorees was selected for his contributions to the conference, with primary focus on collegiate accomplishments. The WCC/Rawlings 40th Anniversary Baseball Team was selected by a 30-member voting panel comprised of WCC administrators, league institutions, national collegiate baseball writers, and local media members.
In all, the top-40 list includes 24 players that received WCC Player or Pitcher of the Year recognition during their collegiate careers, 27 All-Americans, 11 Freshman All-Americans, and two Academic All-Americans. Highlighting the compilation are 23 players that have played baseball at the Major League level, including 1986 National League Cy Young Award winner Mike Scott, as well as 2004 National League Rookie of the Year Jason Bay. The honorees have combined to make seven Major League Baseball All-Star Game appearances, and seven players that participated in MLB games during the 2006 season are included on the list.
LMU and Pepperdine (13) were the only schools to place more than five players among the 40 honorees. Each of the other current WCC member schools (Gonzaga, Portland, Saint Mary's, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Clara) placed at least one player on the all-time team.
Baseball was originally established as a WCC sport in 1968, and five conference institutions (LMU, Pepperdine, Saint Mary's, San Francisco, and Santa Clara) were charter members of the league along with three associates. The conference temporarily split from 1977-84, as WCC teams competed in the Northern California Baseball Association (NCBA) and the Southern California Baseball Association (SCBA) before resuming WCC play in 1985 along with San Diego and Nevada. The Wolf Pack left the conference in 1991, creating a six-team loop until 1996 when long time conference members Gonzaga and Portland joined the circuit for baseball, bringing the league to its full compliment of teams. West Coast Conference teams have combined to earn 57 selections to the NCAA Tournament, with teams making four appearances at the College World Series.
The Lions open the 2007 WCC season at home against San Francisco March 30th.