How does one accurately select a 20-year anniversary high school all-star baseball team in an area that annually produces talent worthy of stocking professional and college teams?
Selecting an all-Orange County baseball team in one year is difficult; naming the best players over the past 20 years is nearly impossible.
Coaches get mad, parents are upset, angry readers write and some players' egos are bruised whenever such teams are published. Now, imagine the talk in a major league clubhouse when word reaches that Padre shortstop Garry Templeton, New York Met catcher Gary Carter, Angel designated hitter Brian Downing and Angel pitcher Dan Petry were left off the team.
Here's the major ground rule: The players were chosen based upon their accomplishments only while attending high school. No points for major league success.
Pitchers? Easily the most competitive position on the team. A team can ride the arm of a quality pitcher to a Southern Section championship .
The best player? It's difficult to imagine an infielder better than Glenn Hoffman of Savanna. Len Dykstra of Garden Grove ranks as the county's best outfielder. Mike Witt of Servite was overpowering on the mound, and few have thrown a better curveball than Santiago's Bert Blyleven.
So, for argument's sake, here's The Times' 20th anniversary all-county baseball team. Please, keep the letters as brief as possible.
Imagine a rotation that includes two members of the Angels' pitching staff.
Witt didn't lose a game from 1977-78 at Servite, compiling a 21-0 record. At 6-foot-8, he was a towering figure on the mound who overpowered hitters. As a senior at Servite, Witt allowed only three hits in the 4-A division final, ending Arcadia's 15-game winning streak with a 6-1 victory.
Blyleven was 17-6 from 1968-69 at Santiago, where he mastered a curveball that became his ticket to the major leagues. Only a year out of high school at 19, Blyleven won 10 games with the Minnesota Twins, who won the American League West championship.
Bill Dodd of Capistrano Valley was the county's player of the year in 1983 and 1984. He struck out 238 and compiled a 22-1 record in two seasons. Dodd also was a good hitter and led the county with nine home runs as a senior. Since then, he has hit several detours on the road to success. He dropped out after his freshman year at Arizona State and is currently with double-A Chattanooga in the Cincinnati Reds organization.
Jim Peterson won 30 games to lead Sonora to the 2-A division title games in 1972 and 1973 and finished high school with 40 victories. Sonora won the title in 1972 with Peterson compiling a 15-1 record with 189 strikeouts. He pitched five shutouts and a no-hitter as a junior. Peterson was 15-4 with 174 strikeouts as a senior, winning 30 of Sonora's 37 games in two years.
Few high school players have received more attention than Andy Bielanski did in 1968 and 1969 at Savanna. As a junior, Bielanski was a master on the mound, where he had a 13-1 record and was named the Southern Section's 3-A co-player of the year with Tim Foli.
As a senior, he moved to his natural position, catcher, and batted .356 despite missing the opening of the season with a broken wrist suffered during the football season. Bielanski was drafted by the New York Mets, but rejected a bonus offer and attended UCLA.
Even after 20 years, Alan Bannister still holds nearly every offensive record at Kennedy, where he was named the county's player of the year in 1969. Bannister batted .523 in his senior season and was the fifth selection in the major league draft. He played 12 years in the major leagues.
Hoffman was a three-year starter for Savanna who hit .437 as a senior in 1976 and committed only two errors at shortstop. A slick fielder, Hoffman was drafted by the Boston Red Sox and headed for Elmira, N.Y., two days after graduation to play rookie ball. He reached the major leagues in 1981 and fulfilled a childhood dream of playing in Anaheim Stadium, where his father worked as an usher.
Tom Redington hit 21 home runs in three seasons at Esperanza but his homer into the left-field bleachers at Dodger Stadium as a junior in 1986 in the 4-A division title game against Fontana was the highlight of his career. Redington is playing for the Atlanta Braves' Class-A minor league team in Burlington, Iowa.
Mike Carpenter was a left-hander who excelled at Los Alamitos in 1974 and '75. He hit .408 as a junior and .463 his senior season. Carpenter played at Cerritos College, UCLA and then signed with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he tore cartilage in his knee in the minor leagues that ended his career.