Baseball champions of yesterday and today gathered in June for the College Baseball Hall of Fame's Night of Champions, where seven new members were inducted, which included Gene Stephenson, a former player/coach to current Charlotte 49ers baseball Head Coach Loren Hibbs.
“Gene called me the day he got word of his acceptance into the College Baseball Hall of Fame and asked if I could attend the induction ceremony,” remembered Hibbs. “As a former Wichita State player and coach, I was honored to be there and see him recognized the right way. The things Gene accomplished during his time as Head Coach at Wichita State will never be duplicated.”
Stephenson joins his brother, Phil Stephenson, and three other former players in the Hall of Fame. Stephenson had 1,837 wins during his time with the Shockers, a .731 winning percentage, led the program to 28 regionals and seven College World Series appearances, and captured the 1989 national title.
"It was a long hard ride for all of us," Stephenson said. "We worked very hard. I think that was in 1989, and it was a special year obviously for all us, and we had a number of great teams over the years. I think the most important thing to remember is when we came to Wichita we had nothing to start with. We had a belief."
The distinguished baseball players honored and inducted into the Hall of Fame during the Night of Champions include Southern California pitcher Bill Bordley; Miami outfielder Mike Fiore; Miami-Dade North Community College coach Demie Mainieri; Miami/Miami-Dade South Community College pitcher Alex Fernandez; Tuskegee Institute/Harvard shortstop William C. Matthews; Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson; and Baylor outfielder Mickey Sullivan.
“People outside our region are very aware of Charlotte 49ers Baseball and our move back to Conference USA,” continued Hibbs. “The weekend gave me the opportunity to continue building our brand in another part of the country and to reconnect with Coach Bertman (Former LSU Head Baseball Coach and AD), Coach Mainieri (Current LSU Head Baseball Coach) and Jim Hendry (Former GM of Chicago Cubs and currently Special Assignment Scout for NY Yankees). Individuals I have known for over 30 years and icons in our business.”
Charlotte will begin preparing for its second season back in Conference USA on August 20th kicking off the fall portion of practice.