Fullerton, Calif. - Cal State Fullerton ushered in its newest class of superstars as gymnast Carol Johnston, soccer forward Mike Fox, basketball coach Bobby Dye and the entire 1995 baseball team were inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame Friday night in front of a sold-out audience at the Fullerton Marriott.
Photo Gallery: 2013 Cal State Fullerton Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
The biannual ceremony kicked off when emcee Jose Mota (Titan baseball national champion and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim broadcaster) introduced University President Mildred García.
"Titan Pride is stronger than ever," President García said. "We are very, very proud of the accomplishments of our student-athletes and coaches and we stand on the shoulders of those who have come before."
"On behalf of Cal State Fullerton, the over 250,000 alums, and over 38,000 students, I want to thank the inductees for serving Cal State Fullerton so well, for being our ambassadors, for promoting Titan Pride; we are so thrilled that you are Titans," she said.
Fullerton Athletics Director Jim Donovan followed and took the opportunity to thank the inductee's families, dignitaries and staff, and publicly commended President García and Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Berenecea Johnson Eanes for significantly increasing the department of athletic's baseline funding for the first time in over a decade.
"They are true believers in Titan Athletics," Donovan said.
"But we still have a ways to go, and were going to need your help," he said to the 260-plus people in attendance. "There are things we can do to help ourselves and there are things that the University will continue to do for us. The future is very, very bright, so get on board."
Following dinner, Johnston became the first of the 2013 class to be officially inducted.
Video Slideshow: Carol
Johnston / Feature: Carol Johnston
Despite being born with only a partial right arm, Johnston spent three seasons on the Titan women's gymnastics team, earning All-American honors as a sophomore in 1978. She was a member of the 1979 national championship team and helped the Titans to a three-year record of 45-0, all the while battling significant knee injuries.
She was later the subject of a 20-minute educational film that in-turn, pushed the 4-foot-10 gymnast into the spotlight as the star of a Disney film called "Lefty" in which a film crew chronicled her daily life.
Now battling Alzheimer's disease, Johnston's college teammate/roommate and current Titan Associate Athletics Director/ Senior Women's Administrator Julie Bowse spoke on Johnston's behalf.
"Carol wants you to know she is embracing this diagnosis and is living each day to the fullest. She'd like to thank the University for this honor and in particular Coach Lynn Rogers and her teammates," Bowse said.
"She is proud that her accomplishments were a part of a group effort that made Cal State Fullerton gymnastics such a powerhouse.
"Carol does not, and never has considered her lack of a right arm a disability," Bowse said before sharing a few humorous stories revolving around Johnston's one-handedness.
"It was a great reminder to all of us of what great things can be accomplished when you focus on what you have as opposed to what you do not," Bowse said. "And it is that spirit, the spirit of Carol Johnston, that is the embodiment of Cal State Fullerton Athletics."
She concluded, "Many Schools have much bigger budgets and better facilities, but we embrace our underdog status and we find ways to win championships anyway. The spirit of Carol Johnston will be a part of Cal State Fullerton Athletics forever. And Carol would like you to know that even though she is unable to express the words, that she has such wonderful memories of her time at Cal State Fullerton and is so proud to be a Titan."
Video Slideshow: Mike
Fox / Feature: Mike Fox
Fox, the "gold standard" in the Titan men's soccer record book, told his story about being a recruit in the late 1970s that saw his path through Fullerton flourish into two opportunistic careers: one, an 11-year professional soccer career, the other a nearly 20-year career in the athletic apparel industry.
Fox, the all-time Cal State Fullerton leader in points and goals scored quipped that after he wasn't able to meet Yale and Santa Clara's academic standards, "Fullerton became the obvious choice."
"And to seal the deal I was offered a full ride scholarship," Fox said. "It paid all my tuition and books and was a whopping $300. Back in the day it was $182 a semester and books weren't quite as expensive as they are today."
Like all the inductees, Fox spoke about what it was like playing his sport in the early Division I era at Cal State Fullerton – before Titan Stadium, before lights, before bleachers.
"When we played, there was a nice big grass area outside the gymnasium," he said of the open fields where the tennis and track facilities now stand. "And we would even move the field throughout the season to wherever the best grass was out there.
"Our fans were our parents in lawn chairs, sitting around the field just like you would see in club soccer today. We had a few girlfriends out there – not as many as the baseball team did," Fox said getting a good chuckle from the large baseball contingent in the room. "We thought we were the cool team on campus, but apparently not everyone else did.
"Four years at Fullerton was a life-changing experience for me," Fox said. "I grew up and became responsible, accountable and also developed the soccer experience that carried me on beyond my college days."
Video Slideshow: Bobby
Dye / Feature: Bobby Dye
Dye steered the Titan basketball program from Division II to Division I starting in 1973, winning a school-best 16 games in his first season and led the program to a school record six consecutive winning seasons from 1973-79. Most notably he took the unheralded "Cal State Who" squad into the finals at the 1978 New Mexico Regional.
Like only a seasoned coach can, Dye used his time to regale about what it was like in the department and on campus in the early 1970s. He urged the Hall of Fame Selection Committee, with visible endorsements from Titan Hall of Fame Head Coaches Augie Garrido and Lynn Rogers, to induct former Titan Athletic Director Neale Stoner, who he praised for leading the way for Cal State Fullerton's early development and success.
In one of his numerous anecdotes Dye spoke of the beginnings of the Cal State Fullerton-Long Beach State rivalry.
"They were really good," Dye said of Long Beach State in the Titans' first year in the PCAA. "Their guys, I thought, were so cocky. They thought it was really beneath them to be playing in Titan Gym, and they beat us."
At the first practice of the next season, Dye still felt the fire from the previous year and told the team they were not going to let Long Beach beat them in their house.
"The more I got going, the more wound up I got. I said 'If we can't beat 'em, we'll check their rears in the parking lot," the coach said drawing laughter and applause from the audience. "If we can't do it there, we'll do it in the foyer, we'll do it anywhere they want but they aren't coming out here again with a win!"
He continued, "Well our guys went out, and the word spread on campus that we didn't like Long Beach State. They came in to play us that year, and they had an LA City High School player of the year, and they were really good. And I had no idea how much our fans had really bought into this.
"The ball goes in the stands and this poor guy goes into the stands after the ball… when he comes out of the stands, his shirt is over his head. I think they took his shoes off!"
"We didn't have anything going for us except our guys were fired up and the kids on campus were fired up. I look back on that and I am so thankful for the response we got."
In a touching moment, Dye's young granddaughter, Peyton, addressed her "Papa" from the podium.
"I wish I could have been there when you were coaching, but I couldn't," Peyton said. "The important thing is that I am here now sharing this amazing night with you, and I want you to know, Papa, that I am so proud of you and I love you."
Video Slideshow: 1995 Baseball Team / Feature: 1995 Baseball Team
The 1995 Cal State Fullerton baseball team, the first team to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, is arguably the greatest college baseball team ever assembled. It won the school's third national championship, finishing with a remarkable 57-9 record and spawned three-major leaguers, two US Olympians, four Div. I head coaches and five Div. I assistant coaches.
The Titans' legendary skipper Garrido and team captain D.C. Olsen spoke on behalf of the team and recently-retired major leaguer and 1995 national player of the year Mark Kotsay sent a recorded video message from San Diego's Petco Park.
"Baseball is a game of teamwork," Garrido said. "Because in our game, you cannot possibly know what percentage of the credit any one person deserves because it is about everyone."
"This team – I don't think it has been said – in the 50th year of Rosenblatt Stadium, the people of Omaha voted the 1995 Cal State Fullerton baseball team – who was referred to as 'Cal State Who' and 'Cal State Disneyland' just a few years earlier – the best team in the history of Div. I baseball."
Garrido, whose assistants George Horton (Oregon Ducks head coach), Rick Vanderhook (current Titans head coach) and Mike Kirby (current Titan assistant coach) were in the room, went over some of the 1995 team's statistics that stood out.
"They batted .336 as a team. I hate to make this comparison… I don't know what your team batted George… I know what mine did," he deadpanned drawing a chuckle from those who knew of his rough 2013 season at Texas.
His Longhorns hit .263 and finished last in their conference for the first time since 1956.
"They hit 88 home runs. How about that? They stole 89 bases in 121 attempts. Try that. At the end of they day they fielded .971 defensively on a pretty rough field that we took care of," Garrido stated. "And at the end of the day in our game, it about runs scored. Last year at the University of Texas, we scored 196 runs on the season. This team score 578 runs. That's what they did."
In closing, Garrido said of the squad, "As I represent them in this moment, no one has represented them better than themselves."
Olsen, one of 29 players coaches and staff members from that year's team in attendance, followed Garrido at the mic.
"This team thrived on competition," Olsen said. "We competed against each other in practice so relentlessly through intersquads and individual practices, that preparing to go to battle against an opponent was like taking a steak to a dogfight. We were so hungry to compete. I think we were tired of beating each other up at practice and we wanted more. We wanted to play the best and we wanted to be put in the worst environments so that we could rise to the occasion. And we did."
The former first baseman concluded, "I can't be more blessed and honored to have been a part of this team. And in turn on behalf of the team, I don't think words can describe how honored we are to be inducted into this 2013 Cal State Fullerton Hall of Fame."
Dr. Eanes wrapped the night up with some closing comments.
"I want to thank all of you on behalf of the faculty, staff and students of this fantastic University for supporting our students because that is what matters," she said. "Supporting Titan Athletics, supporting this family that has been developing over the years, you know how much athletics means to the university experience and to this community and we value all of you. Thank you for being here."
THE CAL STATE FULLERTON
ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME
Class of 2005
Greg Bunch (basketball)
Nancy Dunkle (basketball)
Tami Elliott-Harrison (gymnastics)
Coach Augie Garrido (baseball)
Susan LeFebvre (softball)
Eugenia Rycraw (basketball)
Tim Wallach (baseball)
Class of 2007
Mark Collins (football)
Judi Garman (softball)
Heather Killeen-Frisone (cross country / track and field)
Mark Kotsay (baseball)
Phil Nevin (baseball / football)
Leon Wood (basketball)
Class of 2009
Damon Allen (football)
Connie Clark (softball)
Barbie Myslak-Roetert (gymnastics)
Dan Boone (baseball)
Gene Murphy (football)
Class of 2011
Bruce Bowen (basketball)
Brent Mayne (baseball)
Lynn Rogers (gymnastics)
Susan Lewis-Newton (softball)
Merilyn & Jerry Goodwin (Titan Athletics supporters)
Class of 2013
Carol Johnston (gymnastics)
Mike Fox (soccer)
Coach Bobby Dye (basketball)
The 1995 Baseball Team