Jackson, Tenn. - 4/19/2003 - The Union University Baseball team from 1983 was once again together on Union’s campus to honor their World Series appearance. Though numerous Union teams have fallen just short of a World Series berth, the 1983 team still remains the only Bulldog baseball team to appear in the national championship of college baseball.
The Bulldogs went 48-12 in that historic season. Union was Co-Champions of the Volunteer State Athletic Conference (VSAC) with a 10-1 league record. The VSAC included Lipscomb, Lambuth, Trevecca, Christian Brothers, among others.
This team accomplished feats still talked about today such as Barry Bishop’s day in which he hit homeruns in four consecutive at bats. Those four at bats came in the district tournament in 1983 versus Lipscomb University.
Union finished the regular season at the No. 10 ranked team in the NAIA. They played the NAIA Area 5 Tournament that year in Pensacola, Florida. Union lost the championship game to Southern Arkansas but still received an at-large bid to the World Series in Lubbock, Texas. Union along with seven other teams began a quest for the title. Union started off hot with a 13-12 win over William Jewel and a 7-2 win over Southern Arkansas. Union then met the No. 1 team in the nation, Lewis Clark State, in the winner’s bracket championship. Union fell 22-6 but would recover and win the next game 21-17 over Liberty Baptist. The 38 runs scored in that game remain the most runs scored in a World Series game. That win also assured the Bulldogs of at least a third place finish. The host team, Lubbock Christian, defeated Union 4-0 to end the Bulldogs’ season. That game was the first time in over three years that Union had been shutout.
Union finished that season with a third place finish in the NAIA World Series. In the 27-year history of the NAIA World Series, no at-large team had finished that high before and none have since. Union’s Terry Gossett, of Ashville, North Carolina, led the 1983 World Series field with a .567 batting average.
Dr. David Blackstock, now Union’s Athletic Director, and Dr. Linn Stranak, Union’s chair of the Physical Education Wellness and Sport Department co-coached that team. Over time it has stood as the most successful season in the storied history of Union University baseball. The 1983 team holds numerous records such as wins in a season (48), team batting average (.363), and longest winning streak (16). Individually, that team still holds 14 Union records. Terry Gossett, a player on that team speaks highly of Coach Blackstock and Coach Stranak by saying, “They are two of the best role models for young people.” Gossett adds, “You don’t appreciate the kind of people they are until you get out and realize how much work and effort they put into their job as coaches.”
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