FRISCO, Texas -- UT Arlington's Ron Lucas was named to the Southland Conference All-Decade baseball team from the 1960's.
The SLC, as part of its year-long 50th Anniversary commemoration, has announced its All-Decade Baseball Team from the 1960s. The team includes stars from its member institutions from the league's inaugural 1964 season through 1969.
A total of 29 student-athletes makeup the 1960s All-Decade Team, including honorees from each of the five institutions that made up the league during its first six years. The all-decade team includes eight student-athletes from Arkansas State, seven each from Abilene Christian and Trinity, six from Lamar and one from UTA.
"From the very early stages of the Southland's formation, baseball was clearly a very competitive sport," Southland commissioner Tom Burnett said. "These early teams, coaches and student-athletes set a high threshold for future programs in this sport, and as we have seen throughout our five decades, Southland baseball has always been played at a high competitive level."
Trinity's Houston Wheeler was named the coach of the decade after leading his teams to four conference titles. The conference decided its champion solely in a postseason tournament during the first five seasons and the Tigers claimed the first three championships, finishing as the league's best team in 1964, 1965 and 1966 before closing the decade with a title in 1969. His 1969 club was the first Southland team to debut in the then NCAA University Division (now Division I) Championship regionals. He coached 18 all-conference players in the 1960s. Including his entire coaching career in the Southland (1964-72), Wheeler's teams were 179-90 (66.2 win percentage).
His players on the all-decade team include first baseman Audie Blevins, a two-time first-team all-conference selection in 1964 and 1965; catcher John Buleson, who earned all-conference honors in 1964; shortstop Jimmy Carter, who earned all-league honors in 1964 and 1965; shortstop Pat Cluney, a three-time all-conference selection from 1966-68; outfielder Troy Hinson, an all-conference pick in 1964; catcher Marvin Upshaw, a 1966 all-conference pick; and, pitcher Jim Wingate, an all-conference selection in 1966 whose 0.39 career earned-run average remains the Southland Conference record.
Upshaw also earned first-team all-conference honors in football and is one of four Southland Conference players selected in the first round of the National Football League draft, going to the Cleveland Browns in 1968. He had a nine-year NFL career with the Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Cardinals.
Among Arkansas State's eight members of the all-decade team is pitcher William Bourg, who was the first four-time, first-team all-conference selection, earning honors from 1967-70. He was the conference pitcher of the year as a senior. Three other Arkansas State players on the all-decade team were three-team all-conference selections, including second baseman Bob Browning (1965-67), third baseman Jim Callway (1965-67) and outfielder Jim Mueller (1967-69).
Five other members of the all-decade team are two-time first-team all-conference selections, including Arkansas State third baseman George Glenn (1964, 1966), outfielder Wayne Pitcock (1968-69) and second baseman Dana Ryan (1967-68) alongside Trinity's Blevins and Carter.
Many of these Arkansas State student-athletes were key to a successful run by the program that saw the team advance to the 1967 NCAA College Division playoffs, as well as the first-ever NCAA College Division World Series in 1968.
Also on the team is Jim Gilligan, an all-conference pitcher at Lamar in 1967, who went on to serve as the head coach at his alma mater, becoming the winningest coach in Southland Conference history with more than 1,200 victories.
The Southland Conference will continue to recognize all-decade teams in the near future.