It all started with little Larry McCauley. For four years, he batted leadoff for the Seattle University baseball team. Countless times, the starting rightfielder had opposing teams backpedaling from the first pitch.
One of the most prolific hitters in school history, McCauley batted .423, .387, .355 and .378 from the No. 1 slot. He was the team MVP as a freshman and a senior. He legged out 18 career triples, breaking Johnny O'Brien's SU record by five. He slugged 27 career home runs, and he wasn't even regarded as a power hitter.
McCauley also was at his pestering best against the cross-town rival -- again, from the outset. Over a three-day span ending on May 13, 1958, the then-freshman introduced himself to the Washington Huskies by going a collective 7-for-9 with six runs scored while the Chieftains lost the opener 2-1 at Graves Field and swept two games at Sicks' Stadium 7-5 and 19-5.
"I think how much Seattle U changed my life," said McCauley, who thrived on his collegiate success, plus met his wife as a student.
With Seattle U returning to full Division I championship eligibility for the first time in 33 years -- when the Redhawks host Washington in a women's soccer match at Championship Field on Aug. 17 -- this is the 29th in a series of 33 stories replaying memorable SU events previously held at the NCAA's top level (1952-80).
While his amazing leadoff production went like clockwork, McCauley's route to Seattle U was anything but routine. Leaving Seattle Prep High School, he served a four-year stint in the Marines while the Korean War was ongoing before he considered his college options. And once out of the military, he was headed to Arizona State for his college baseball and an education until the Chieftains persuaded him to stay home.
SU's 5-foot-8, 155-pound bundle of leadoff fury relished beating the Huskies, and it showed. In the 2-1 loss, Seattle U and the UW combined for five hits, and the lefthanded-hitting McCauley had two of them. In the doubleheader sweep, McCauley was a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate with three walks and six runs scored.
"My on-base percentage was quite high," he said. "I always led the team in walks."
McCauley played several seasons of semipro baseball, often against Triple-A teams in exhibition games, before concluding he wasn't going to be a big-leaguer. Batting against the great Herb Score in one such exchange, and watching a pitch practically fall off the table on him and then hit him in the knee, was convincing enough.
He coached the Thomas Jefferson High School baseball team for 15 seasons, and founded and coached the American Legion program in Federal Way. He raised four sons, with two of them born while he was a Seattle U student. His oldest son, Mike, played as a sophomore for Seattle U's final Division I baseball team in 1980 before the program was deemphasized; a bittersweet moment for the family, which now welcomes the return.
"Nothing has made me happier than see it go back to Division I," McCauley said.
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