May 30, 1986 - June 9, 1986 • Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha, Nebraska • Attendance: 124,958
Lou Pavlovich, Collegiate Baseball
Moments after his team had presented him with his third national championship, Arizona Coach Jerry Kindall, his arm around wife Georgia, stood in the outfield grass at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Ten feet away, first baseman Todd Trafton, one of the heroes in the 10-2 Arizona victory over Florida State, talked about the two people the Wildcats respect and revere.
"He’s the greatest guy I know," Trafton said. "His wife has been like a mother to us. I hope God is with her. And I’m glad we won it for them. They deserve it."
The Wildcats won the national championship for the Kindalls, who had been through some tough times. Georgia Kindall suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Lou Gehrig’s disease.
She joined her husband in Omaha. During one of his finest moments, she was at his side, smiling as Kindall talked about his players and their accomplishments.
"I’m so grateful for these guys," Kindall said.
The Wildcats, to the man, are equally grateful for the opportunity to play for one of the most respected men in the college game.
"In the back of our minds, we wanted to win this for Coach Kindall," outfielder Gar Millay said. "There were times when he would come out to practice and we knew that he had other things on his mind.
"But every guy on this team loves him, and he loves every one of us."
Arizona’s drive to the national title, which Kindall added to the ones he won in 1976 and 1980 at Arizona, ranks with the more remarkable stories in the 40-year history of the tournament.
With his players celebrating around him, Kindall stood on the outfield grass and talked about the thrill of returning to championship throne.
"The thrill is as fresh and new as you can imagine," Kindall said. "But there’s a Wildcat spirit that was born in this club and this program that comes from Frank Sancet, and Pop McKale before him."
As he spoke, Kindall would often glance at his wife. Unable to speak, Georgia revealed her response in her eyes.
For the Kindalls, those were not the easiest of times. But that night, thanks to a group of gutty Wildcats, they were the best of times.
Todd Trafton, Arizona, 1b, Sr.
Luis Alicea, Florida St., 2b, Jr.
Robin Ventura, Oklahoma St., 3b, Fr.
Bien Figueroa, Florida St., ss, Sr.
Mike Senne, Arizona, of, Sr.
Mike Fiore, Miami (Fla.), of, So.
Paul Sorrento, Florida St., of, Jr.
Bill Reynolds, Maine, c, Sr.
Gary Alexander, Arizona, dh, Jr.
Richie Lewis, Florida St., p, So.
Gary Alexander, Arizona p, Jr.