The walk-up song for every Temple University hitter in Saturday’s AAC baseball pool play game against UCONN should be Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” because that’s what it will be.
It is only fitting that the group from Philadelphia plays the swan song for the team from Philadelphia because it will be the last baseball intercollegiate baseball game ever played by Temple. The death will come at age 87 for Temple baseball, born in 1927, and died on May 24, 2014. In the middle during the halcyon days of the 1970s, the Owls graced the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium (pictured above) twice (1972 and 1977), finishing third (behind only Arizona State and USC) in 1972. The Owls would have reached the final had they not lost to the Sun Devils that year, 1-0, in the semifinals, a truly remarkable achievement for a team from the traditional east.
Among the players the school has produced are former major leaguers in outfielder Bobby Higginson, pitcher Joe Kerrigan (a one-time Boston Red Sox manager), infielder Jeff Manto (who spent 10 seasons with seven teams), catcher John Marzano and former Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade.
Now it all comes to an end.
As former legendary head coach Jim “Skip” Wilson said before the last home game against Houston a week ago, it did not have to be. Wilson finished with 1,034 career victories, the most of any coach in any sport in the school’s history. The university cited costs as one of the reasons for cutting the national pastime at the school, but that reason was debunked by the Philadelphia Phillies, who offered the team free use of its practice facilities indoors at Citizens Bank Park in the winter and by the neighboring independent league team, the Camden Riversharks, who offered free use of its 7,000-seat stadium just 15 minutes from the main campus for all home games. The Phillies added an additional incentive with free use of Citizens Bank Park when the Phillies were not in town.
So costs had to be a bogus reason for eliminating the sport and, in a city where smaller schools like St. Joseph’s, LaSalle and Penn can afford the national pastime, the one school with 40,000 full-time students cannot.
The administration made up their minds, and no Boyz II Men song, however sad, is going to make them change that tune.