LARAMIE — The 2021 College World Series bracket is set.
Eight teams will compete but only one will hoist a national championship trophy in Omaha. Those making the trip to eastern Nebraska this year are: Texas, Mississippi State, Tennessee, North Carolina State, Stanford, Virginia, Arizona and Vanderbilt.
Did you know the Wyoming Cowboys were one of those eight teams back in 1956?
To make things even sweeter, Bud Daniel’s Pokes knocked off Border War rival Colorado State, 8-5, to claim a District 7 title and punch their ticket to college baseball’s ultimate tournament.
UW took two of three games from the Rams to reach Omaha.
In the opening game inside Rosenblatt Stadium that season, Wyoming fell to eventual national champion Minnesota, 4-0. Now forced into the loser’s bracket, the Cowboys took on New York University, a team with just four losses on the season.
UW made it five, outlasting the Violets, 8-2.
The underdog Cowboys, who finished the season 17-13 overall and 7-2 in Skyline Conference play, lost to Bradley on Day 3. That Braves team won two games to get into the semifinals before they ran into that Gophers team that would go on to knock off Arizona 12-1 in the title game to claim the school’s first national championship on the diamond. Minnesota would also go on to win it all in 1960 and ’64.
Like most Wyoming baseball seasons, the team played its first 14 games of that season on the road, traveling through New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado — in late April. They didn’t play a home game until CSU paid a visit to Laramie on April 21.
Wyoming took two of three against Utah in Salt Lake City to win the conference crown in ’56. That came on May 26 when the Pokes knocked off the Utes 9-7 at Derks Field.
Despite making the NCAA Tournament five times and claiming three conference championships — including the latest in 1995 — the school announced the following year it was dropping the baseball program.
That team will forever be enshrined in the University of Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame.
1956 Cowboy Baseball Team
The College World Series in 1956 was the culmination of the rise to national prominence by the Wyoming baseball program. Much of this group had won three straight Skyline Conference Championships, and had participated in the NCAA Regional finals in 1954 and 1955. At the time, the World Series was a much more exclusive championship with only eight teams qualifying at the end of each collegiate season. This Wyoming team went to Omaha with just 16 players in uniform, unique in that the other seven teams traveled 25-man rosters. But this group represented the brown and gold in tremendous fashion. After losing to eventual national champion Minnesota, 4-0, in the opening game, the Cowboys rebounded to defeat New York University. The Pokes then lost to Bradley in their final game. The team boasted of an All-American, outfielder Don Napierkowski, and five All-Regional selections, Napierkowski, first baseman Fritz Heiss, shortstop Gerry Nagle, outfielder Bob Sullivan and pitcher Ralph Vaughn. The success of this team led to the development and completion in 1963 of the baseball complex and Cowboy Field, Wyoming’s baseball home for over 30 years. It is fitting that this team was inducted into the Hall of Fame on the 50th anniversary of its trip to the College World Series.
Anyone else really missing Cowboy baseball right now?
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