Another great matchup. JJ Arrington, running back extraordinaire, versus Jon Zuber, baseball posterboy! This is the 4 v. 13 matchup in the Brick Mueller Regional. The winner takes on Scott Fujita. Voting ends on Friday, April 22, at noon.
You can see the entire bracket here. Go vote. GO BEARS!
Brick Mueller Regional
J.J. Arrington (4)
Cal fans were understandably anxious to see what Arrington would do carrying the full workload in 2004. What he did was have the greatest season by any player in the history of Cal football. That's right. The greatest season ever.
In each of his 12 games, Arrington hit for at least 100 yards - the only back in America to make that claim. Against Air Force in the opener, he scored three times including an 89-yard run that set a Cal record. 3 more scores against NMSU, and then a couple of off games - 108 yards and a TD v Oregon State and 112 in the heartbreak loss to SC. Then J.J. got serious. UCLA was torched for 205 yards and two scores in the next outing, and then ASU, Oregon, Washington and Stanford all surrendered a touchdown and at least 120 yards to #30.
But J.J. Arrington, to us, defined himself in the rain and mud of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. You recall the scene - the Bears needed a blowout win to impress the human pollsters and vault past Texas into the Rose Bowl. It was not to be, but Arrington moved heaven and earth to make it so, rushing 31 times for 261 yards, the most by a Cal back since 1954.
Arrington had an all time legendary season playing for one of our most prolific teams of the last half century. And he did it sort of out of the blue. I mean, we all knew that Arrington was good and had the potential to step in and do the job, but I don’t know that very many Cal fans expected that he would surpass the production of Echemandu’s 2003 season, much less run for 2,000 yards. I kind of expected the 2004 Bears to be all about Rodgers and G-Mac. It wasn’t.
Jon Zuber (13)
Ohio Bear: Cal baseball, 1989-92. Key player on the 1992 team that went to the College World Series: he was starting 1B and closer. He also started a key ballgame in a 1991 win against stanfurd that got us into the NCAAs (where we ultimately lost in the regional final at Wichita State). Zub is now the pitching coach for Cal.
California Pete: Lance Blankenship was arguably the most talented player of the Milano era. And Jeff Kent went on to have the most accomplished professional career. But Zuber remains my all-time favorite Cal baseball player. He was a multi-talented gamer that did it all, and he just got better and better with each year of his Cal career. He single-handedly kept me going out to Evans Diamond to watch the Bears, even after I had graduated.
One of the greatest players in California baseball history, Jon Zuber has now established himself as an outstanding coach. During the 2008 season, Zuber mentored some of the finest hitters in Cal history when Josh Satin batted .379 and was selected a first team All-American in Baseball America, while David Cooper batted .359 and was a first round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays. Satin and Cooper combined to be named to seven different All-America teams and together hit 37 home runs with 107 RBI. The Golden Bears also finished second in the Pac-10 with a .302 team batting average.
In addition, Zuber coached 2009 preseason All-American Blake Smith, who was the USA National Team's leading hitter last summer with a .327 average.
Zuber was hired as Cal assistant baseball coach on July 12, 2004, working primarily as the hitting and third base coach. In his first year with the program, Zuber immediately helped Cal vie for a postseason berth and produce two All-Pac-10 hitters (Brennan Boesch and Josh Satin) and a freshman All-American (Satin). In 2008, he saw three of his hitters sign pro contracts, and in 2006 four Bear hitters were drafted in the top eight rounds.
A former major leaguer and a 2003 California Hall of Fame inductee, Zuber was named Co-Pac-10 Player of the Year and NCAA East Regional MVP in 1992. He remains Cal's career leader in hits (291), doubles (61) and putouts (1,299), and ranks among all-time school leaders in runs scored (third, 187), walks (fourth, 137), batting average (sixth, .364) and RBI (sixth, 148). Zuber, who led the Bears to the 1991 NCAA Midwest Regional finals and the 1992 College World Series, was also an outstanding pitcher who still ranks seventh in career saves (13) in school history.
A three-time first-team All-Pac-10 selection, Zuber was Cal's batting leader with a .386 average in 1990. He was drafted in the 12th round by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1992 and went on to play first base and outfield in the major leagues for the Phillies from 1996-99. In 1993, Zuber set the single-season doubles record, 37, while playing for Clearwater in the Florida State League. He was later selected to play in six Minor League All-Star Games (1993 Single A Florida State League, 1994 Double A Eastern League, 1996-99 Triple A International League) and was named the 1996 Scranton Wilkes-Barre Player of the Year. Zuber also played for the New York Yankees, the Yokahama Baystars in Japan (batting .305 in 2001) and the Milwaukee Brewers, before retiring from professional baseball in 2002.
Zuber, 39, earned a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies from Cal in 1993. He and his wife, Shannon, live in Lafayette with their daughters, Madison (eight on March 19) and Tatum (four on February 17). His father, Ed, is the announcer for Cal baseball's home games.