Throwback Thursday: Jeff Berblinger

May 10, 2012

Berblinger_Headshot.jpgJeff Berblinger (Baseball) 1990-93
Goddard, Kan. native Jeff Berblinger left a number of legacies in Lawrence and on the KU baseball program. The second baseman was named an All-American his senior year (1993) and helped lead the Jayhawks to the College World Series that same season. After being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, Berblinger saw action with the Cards as he was called up in September of 1997, just in time for Mark McGwire’s arrival to the club. Berblinger continued his baseball career after his stint with St. Louis, playing in the Seattle Mariners organization as well as independent ball before calling it a career. He currently works in pipeline construction in Wichita and tries to make it back to Lawrence for a game or two when he can.

What have you been up to since you left KU?
“When I first left KU, I played pro ball for 10 years (including a stint with the St. Louis cardinals in 1997). After pro ball I went into coaching and baseball instruction. Now I currently work in pipeline construction in Wichita.”

What made you choose Kansas over Wichita State?
“I’ve always been a KU fan and I had an opportunity, I felt like at KU, I would be able to play right away as a freshman. Wichita State was coming off of a National Championship and had a lot of returning players. Kansas made me feel like I was wanted and that I would have an opportunity to compete for a starting job as a freshman.”

What is your greatest memory of playing for Kansas?
“Probably my senior year (1993) and all of the success that we had. The group of guys that we had on that team plus being able to play in the College World Series was pretty great.”

How did being named an All-American your senior year help your career?
“I don’t know that it really helped my career. I think it was just an honor for me to be able to be recognized by the people that vote on that. It’s also an honor to be a part of the University of Kansas’ Hall of Fame. There is some special company in that place, so it was an honor for me to be inducted.”

Berblinger_Tall_B_W.jpgWhat was your experience playing professionally?
“I just enjoyed the opportunity to do that because I love playing baseball. I probably would have played for free (if I could). I enjoyed all of the places that I got to go and all of the people that I was able to meet. Obviously, the short time I experienced in the big leagues was the best time for me. To experience that was something that I will never forget.”

Would you say playing Major League Baseball is your favorite memory from your baseball career?
“One of them, but playing at KU and as well as the College World Series with a group of seniors that I graduated with was one of the biggest thrills for me. Getting to go and play in St. Louis (with the Cardinals) was pretty special because the way their fans are there. That was a time when Mark McGwire had just come over as a free agent and the city was kind of going crazy for him. It was a good time to be in St. Louis and around that team.”

Do you make it back to KU very often?
“I try to get up (to Lawrence) once or twice a year. I usually make it up for a football game and a basketball game but also try to make it up for baseball games as well. I just like the atmosphere at KU and I love being around it. I will always be a Jayhawk.”

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Image Courtesy: Somerset Patriots Baseball Club