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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Q&A;: Craig Lefferts

Editor’s note: The 1980 Arizona baseball NCAA Championship team will be honored during Saturday’s UA Red/Blue intrasquad scrimmage. The Arizona Daily Wildcat caught up with the 1980 championship game’s winning pitcher, Craig Lefferts, the father of Arizona Icecats forward Brady Lefferts. Craig Lefferts discussed the reason for his team’s success in 1980, his excitement to see the players and coaches again and his son’s success as a hockey player at the UA.

 

Daily Wildcat: With the 30-year anniversary of the 1980 championship team this weekend, what are you looking forward to most?

Well, mostly seeing the coaches and the players from that team. That’s the coolest thing — 30 years ago we won the national championship, so getting together with everybody is going to be a blast. I’m also looking forward to meeting the new coach (Andy Lopez). I haven’t met him yet.

Have you kept in touch with a lot of the guys from the team?

Yeah, you know, every once in a while we run into each other, so, not a whole bunch, but a couple of guys here and there.  We did this, oh, about 10 years ago. A lot of people came back, so we’ve done it before, but obviously, we’re 10 years older and grayer, but it’s really going to be neat to see all of the guys, see what everybody’s up to and how their lives have progressed with their families and whatnot.

I know it’s been a while, but what were your emotions like when that final out was recorded?

Well, it’s just, you know, chaos. It was incredible to go through the whole process. We had gone the year before and lost, so we had already had a taste of what it was like to play in a world series and just to win it was just really, really cool. It was just like any championship team, when you put everything into something and come out on top, it’s a great feeling.

What was so special about that team in your eyes?

We had played together for a couple of years and we really were very good in ‘79 and went to the series and didn’t win it. Then, coming back the next year, we felt like we were the team to beat. But we really struggled that year, and, in the middle of the year, we were over in California playing a tournament, and Mike Taylor shaved his head, and we all kind of pulled together. From that point on, we really played as a team. We weren’t playing very well the first half, then in the second half, we kind of gelled. It’s just a super year.

Where does the 1980 National Championship rank on your list of accomplishments and memories?

Well, it’s the biggest championship there is in college, so it was the ultimate win. For me, I was very fortunate to go on and play for 12 years in the major leagues after that, but I still cherish the ring from 1980 and the championship. I was fortunate to go to two Major League Baseball World Series, but we lost both. So this one’s that much more special.

Do you want to continue to coach at the pro level, or have you put any thought into coming back to Arizona?

No, I haven’t thought about that. But I really enjoy coaching. It was something that was really instilled upon our whole group because we had such great coaches with Jerry Kindall, and one thing that was really cool was that there were like 15 players from our team that went on to play pro ball, and there’s a good number of them that are still coaching. There’s like 10 guys that are still coaching today. I think that comes from the leadership we got from Jerry Kindall, you know, to instill upon us to not only play, but, when we’re done playing, to continue to coach and help others.

Is it weird to have Brady (Lefferts) playing hockey at Arizona and not baseball?

It’s awesome that he decided to go to U of A, and I’m real proud of him. He’s done really well there so hopefully they can finish strong and get back to .500 this year and maybe in the next two years get back to the tournament.

 

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