Former Tiger Mike Milchin Recalls 1988 NCAA Tournament Game

May 25, 2000

My name is Mike Milchin and I am a Clemson graduate and a former Clemson baseball player. This time of the year brings back special feelings and memories with the commencing of the postseason tournaments.

This is a unique time to be a student-athlete. I say that sarcastically because school is out and now the players are just athletes. This is the best of both worlds!

During my three years as a Clemson baseball player we won the ACC Tournament once, which was 1989. For some reason Georgia Tech had a strong hold on the tournament led by Jim Morris who is currently at Miami, Fla.

In the year 2000, I am now a retired Major Leaguer, but more than ever a Clemson fan. I work for SFX Sports in Houston, Texas, which gives me a unique perspective on the college game. The reason is that we represent baseball players. In our firm we have some great players, which gives us the enviable position to be very selective of who we would like to represent in the future. When we look for players we look for great players, but just as importantly great people. I have always had the utmost respect for Jack Leggett because Jack has always had both.

I will be following the 2000 NCAA Regionals, which are deservingly being held at Clemson this year. During my career, I never had the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament in front of the greatest college fans in the country, who by the way are in Clemson. In my opinion a home regional is a reward for a lot of hard work and having a great year. The Tigers have had a great year so far, but everyone knows that the season for great programs starts with the NCAA Regionals.

There is one NCAA Regional game as a player that I will never forget. In 1988, we participated in the NCAA Northeast Regional, which was held in New Britain, Conn. We had a strong team that year led by Brian Barnes and Bert Heffernan. Going into the regional we were coming off a great regular season but a disappointing ACC Tournament. We opened with Fordham that year in game one of the regional. Little did we know that game one would turn into games one and two.

Brian Barnes was our starter for game one which meant that we would expect Fordham to score very few runs and also Brian to have a bunch of strikeouts, which was the norm for him at Clemson. What we did not expect was Fordham’s crafty lefty to match Brian inning for inning. Our offense that year was strong and we expected to score an ample amount runs no matter who was hurling against us.

During my career at Clemson I had the opportunity to play first base and also pitch. My role in 1988 was as starting first baseman and also as a closer. The game started out tight and Brian could not go the entire game because it lasted for 19 INNINGS! Wow. The game lasted so long that I came into pitch the eighth, and ended up coming back into pitch in the 11th inning. We finally put them away some six hours after the start. The game lasted so long that the next scheduled game between Stanford and Kentucky was canceled until the next day.

Needless to say we were very tired and relieved to get past that first game. That game stands as the longest game in Clemson history and NCAA Tournament history. Coach Wilhelm made a joke at the press conference by saying that we had really clobbered Fordham that day which is a farce of a statement. Unfortunately, we were beaten by Rutgers, led by Eric Young, and then by Kentucky to be eliminated from the Northeast Regional, but the memories of our first game that year will be etched in my memory forever.

As the post season begins for Jack and the Tigers I would like to wish them the best of luck and I plan on making my plane reservations to Omaha in June. I have always said that success is not a destination but rather a journey. I hope their journey is a special one in 2000.

Mike Milchin