1987 Baseball Team

The King College teams of the 1980’s had made a mark in college baseball finishing strong perennially throughout the decade while being recognized as one of the strongest NAIA programs in all of East Tennessee. But none made the impact for King College than the 1987 squad that won the college its first national championship in school history that year.

1987 King Tornado Baseball

Mike Buchanan
Curtis Carrico
Mike Childress
Bobby Dade
Chip Finch
Bobby James
Dave Kannon
Brent Kitzmiller
Jimmy Lowe
J.L. Martin
Robert Miller
Bill Moore
Darrell Mullins
Jeff Necessary
Mikel Perez
Chris Porter
Paul Pruett
Ron Rayho
Anthony Richardson
Jeff Richardson
Johnny Russ
Eric Shomaker
Scott Slemp
Robert Smith
Anthony Steele
Steve Turner
Steve West
Tim West 

Head Coach Jerry Opp
Assistant Coach Danny Burnett

The Tornado of 1987 entered the year with an NAIA national preseason ranking of 17th overall. King started the year strong by going a perfect 7-0 in the Cocoa Beach Tournament, including a win by forfeit over Boston University who submitted after the Navy and Scarlet had a 22-run lead at the time. Their successes continued throughout the course of the season as they steadily progressed up the rankings, peaking at No. 9 in the country, the highest ranking of any King baseball team.

After finishing the regular season 25-6 (.806), the Tornado earned runner-up honors at the state tournament before being upset in the championship game by David Lipscomb.

The magical season did not end there. King received a bid to the National Christian College Athletic Tournament and entered the tournament with a No. 10 national ranking. Continuing their winning ways, King advanced to the finals and on May 2, 1987 won the college’s first-ever national championship in a 3-2 (F/9) victory over former Major League pitcher Todd Worrell and Biola University (Calif.). The Tornado ended the season with a 32-8 (.800) overall record and improved to ninth in the country in the NAIA rankings.

As a testament to the team’s success, five individuals from the 1987 national championship team currently reside in the Hall of Fame, including Bobby James, Brent Kitzmiller, Jeff Richardson, Anthony Richardson, and Head Coach Jerry Opp.

 

Head Coach Jerry Opp on the 1987 team…
“I am just so incredibly proud of those guys. We were a team predicated on pitching a defense, but we were truly an offensive juggernaut. You had to see them to really appreciate their play but that season and that team was incredibly special to me and King College.”


Dr. Errol Rohr on the 1987 team…
“There were fabulous! They possessed such an enthusiasm and confidence in their play and a special energy while at bat. They were all true baseball guys, great athletes, and some very good students. They were truly fun to be around and provided some great memories.”