Former Ohio State pitcher Steve Arlin guided the Buckeyes to back-to-back appearances in Omaha in 1965 and 1966, leading his team to the national championship their second trip to the College World Series. Now, 40 seasons later he is on the ballot for the first ever induction class into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas. He and 21 other former players as well as 12 former coaches and 12 veteran candidates have a chance to make history. On April 26, the induction class will be announced and on July 4, the class will be officially enshrined. Arlin not only is considered the top pitcher in Ohio State baseball history, but he also is regarded as one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the College World Series. In the 1965, facing elimination against Washington State, Arlin struck out a CWS-record 20 batters in a 15-inning 1-0 victory by Ohio State. The next year, the Buckeyes won the National Championship with Arlin on the mound in five of the team’s six games, twice beating top-seeded Southern California. With a two-year record of 24-3 with the Buckeyes, Arlin held OSU marks for victories and strikeouts (294) until 1999 and his .889 win percentage is the best in school history. He led the nation in strikeouts as a sophomore with 165 and went 13-2 that year in leading the Buckeyes to a second-place finish at the 1965 College World Series. The next year he went 11-1 and helped Ohio State claim the championship.
What do you think of your nomination and being on the ballot of the initial College Baseball Hall of Fame induction class?
It is very special being nominated for the College Baseball Hall of Fame, even more so since it is the initial class. There are some awesome statistics included for the nominees and I am happy to represent not only Ohio State, but the Big Ten. Too often, we don’t get the press nor the following nationally since the Midwest weather doesn’t allow year-round participation, and consequently the teams from the North aren’t expected to succeed to the degree that the teams from the South and Southwest do. What do you remember about pitching in the College World Series and your trip to Omaha?
Omaha was the top of the world for us. We were surrounded by the best fans and best players in the collegiate ranks. We felt appreciated and recognized for our efforts. As we played there, we got better every game we played, realizing that we were as good as anyone there and we did not doubt that we could win it all. We had the strongest sense of team. Pitching in Omaha, gave me an incredible thrill, and I wanted to be on the mound every day. The adrenalin was flowing and I sensed that we could take home the national championship if we played the way we know how. We had a strong desire to show some of those ASU and USC boys what we were made of in Buckeye Country.
What is your favorite baseball memory from Ohio State?
I have so many wonderful memories from those days, some from the players who were there with me, some from the coaches, some from the teams we played. But two memories stand out for me. The first was the championship weekend on the old field along the banks of the Olentangy River. Standing on the mound for 16 innings against Michigan and hearing a very large crowd singing, “We Don’t Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan” inning after inning. Talk about chills! The second memory I have is the moment after we had beaten Washington State 1-0 in 15 innings, being carried off the field on the shoulders of my teammates, the crowd going crazy and me thinking… This is where I want to be!
Do you keep in touch with any of your teammates?
I have seen a few of them on trips back to the campus, usually for Ohio State reunions. I see the same old smiles on their faces that, I am sure, Omaha put there.
Have you been back to the CWS since 1966? Would you go as a fan if Ohio State made it back?
I visited the CWS when I was named to the all-time CWS team a few years ago. It was great fun and exciting. I had a flashback or two and recalled some fond memories. I think it would be awesome to go watch a current OSU team compete in the series. They have had some seasons where they have been close. The talent has been there, but they just need a few breaks and some big hears and we will see them there.