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Tuesday, October 21, 2008
California has most players in World Series

By Mark Tennis

Cole Hamels and Geoff Jenkins will represent two coaching legends in this year's World Series. They also are two of 12 former prep standouts from California on the roster of either the Tampa Bay Rays or Philadelphia Phillies.

Cole Hamels
Cole Hamels is one of a handful of players from California in the World Series.

Two of the nation's most successful high school baseball coaches -- both in terms of victories and helping launch their players toward careers in the major leagues -- have a rooting interest in the Phillies.

Sam Blalock, longtime head coach at Rancho Bernardo High in San Diego, coached Broncos' alum Hamels, MVP of the National League Championship Series and starting pitcher for Game 1 on Wednesday.

Hamels is the first player whom Blalock coached at Rancho Bernardo to appear in a World Series. At Mt. Carmel High in San Diego, Blalock coached Billy Beane, who was a member of World Series' championship teams both in Minnesota (1987) and Oakland (1989). Yes, this is the same Billy Beane who is widely known as one of the top general managers in the game, and who was featured prominently in the book "Moneyball."

Guy Anderson, who has coached for 35 years at Cordova High in Rancho Cordova (near Sacramento), had to think for a moment when asked whether Jenkins is the first of his former players who has made it into the World Series.

"Let me see, yep, that is true," Anderson said. "I just watched Geoff play down in Los Angeles in the playoffs, too. I don't know about the World Series. That would be a tougher trip to take."

Jenkins, who has been a regular for several other MLB teams, most notably Milwaukee, is not the most famous of Anderson's former players. That would be Jerry Manuel, current manager of the New York Mets.

Last season, Blalock won the 700th game of his coaching career, which began in 1976 at Mt. Carmel. He became just the fifth coach in California prep history to reach the 700-win milestone. Anderson won his 800th game in 2006 and is second on the state's all-time win list. The only California prep coach with more wins is El Segundo's John Stevenson, who was George Brett's high school coach. In 2007, Stevenson became just the seventh coach in the country to win 1,000 games.

Hamels had one of the more remarkable careers for Blalock at Rancho Bernardo. He was a standout as a sophomore, but then missed his entire junior year with a broken arm.

"I've seen a lot of pitchers in San Diego, including David Wells [Point Loma], but no one has been better than Cole," Blalock said. "Nothing he does surprises me, not after his first game back after missing his junior year with a broken arm."

Blalock remembers there were 10 to 15 pro scouts on hand when Hamels pitched his first game as a senior.

"He struck out the side in the first inning on nine pitches," Blalock said. "On a strict 50-pitch limit, he struck out 10 in five innings with his fastball being clocked between 90 and 92 mph."

Missing his junior season did result in just one college offering Hamels a scholarship, but it didn't matter. The pro scouts liked what they saw and later that year Hamels was a first-round MLB draft pick and signed immediately.

Hamels is one of eight Blalock-coached players who have been first-round picks in the MLB draft -- including Allan Dykstra, who was drafted out of Wake Forest University last June. Other Blalock pupils who have made it to the big leagues include Oakland Athletics' third baseman Eric Chavez (Mt. Carmel), along with Blalock's nephew, Hank, a two-time All-Star for the Texas Rangers.

Minnesota Twins pitcher Boof Bonser and 2005 California Mr. Baseball Player of the Year John Drennen, an outfielder in the Cleveland Indians' organization, also are from Rancho Bernardo.

Anderson is credited with 12 former players at least getting an appearance in a major league game. His most well-known grads -- in addition to Jenkins and Manuel -- include pitcher Randy Lerch, pitcher Chris Bosio, infielder Max Venable and outfielder Larry Wolfe.

"What I best remember about Geoff was that he hit the ball so high," Anderson said. "He took that big step and let it rip. In his senior year, I moved him to hit leadoff because everybody was walking him."

At Cordova, Geoff Jenkins followed his older brother Brett, who set the state single-season hits record with 68 in 1988, a mark that wasn't broken until 2004.

It's doubtful that either of these California coaching legends will be hanging up their cleats anytime soon.

"I love it enough that I'm 75 years old and look forward to the next season," Anderson said. "It's a downer now that the demands have made baseball a year-round program. But it's still baseball and it's what I love to do."

State-by-state breakdown of high schools

Gabe Gross OF (Northview, Dothan) Rays

From Area Code Games to World Series

Here's a list of the World Series participants who participated in the Area Code games:

Philadelphia Phillies:
Jimmy Rollins -- 1995
Ryan Howard -- 1997
Pat Burrell -- 1994
Geoff Jenkins -- 1991
Jayson Werth -- 1996
Ryan Madson -- 1997

Tampa Bay Rays:
Scott Kazmir -- 2001
B.J. Upton -- 2001
James Shields -- 1999
Grant Balfour --1995

Jason Bartlett INF (St. Mary's, Stockton) Rays
Pat Burrell OF (Bellarmine Prep, San Jose) Phillies
Greg Dobbs OF (Canyon Springs, Moreno Valley) Phillies
Matt Garza P (Washington, Easton) Rays
Cole Hamels P (Rancho Bernardo, San Diego) Phillies
J.P. Howell P (Jesuit, Carmichael) Rays
Geoff Jenkins OF (Cordova, Rancho Cordova) Phillies
Evan Longoria INF (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Rays
Ryan Madson P (Valley View, Moreno Valley) Phillies
Jimmy Rollins INF (Encinal, Alameda) Phillies
James Shields P (Hart, Newhall) Rays
Chase Utley INF (Poly, Long Beach) Phillies

Brad Lidge P (Cherry Creek, Englewood) Phillies

Edwin Jackson P (Shaw, Columbus) Rays

Brett Myers P (Englewood, Jacksonville) Phillies

Shane Victorino OF (St. Anthony's, Wailuku) Phillies

Cliff Floyd DH (Thornwood, South Holland) Rays
J.A. Happ P (St. Bede Academy, Peru) Phillies
Jayson Werth OF (Glenwood, Chatham) Phillies
Ben Zobrist OF (Eureka) Rays

Eric Bruntlett INF (Harrison, West Lafayette) Phillies

Joe Blanton P (Franklin Simpson, Franklin) Phillies
Trever Miller P (Trinity, Louisville) Rays

Carlos Pena 1B (Haverhill) Rays

Chad Bradford P (Byram) Rays

Ryan Howard 1B (Lafayette, Ballwin) Phillies

New Jersey
Fernando Perez OF (Peddie, Highstown) Rays

North Dakota
Chris Coste C (Fargo South) Phillies

Andy Sonnanstine P (Wadsworth) Rays

Jamie Moyer P (Souderton Area, Souderton) Phillies

Rhode Island
Rocco Baldelli OF (Bishop Hendricken, Warwick) Rays
Dan Wheeler P (Pilgrim, Warwick) Rays

David Price P (Blackman, Murfreesboro) Rays

Clay Condrey P (Navasota) Phillies
Carl Crawford OF (Jefferson Davis, Houston) Rays
Scott Kazmir (Cypress Falls, Houston) Rays

Scott Eyre P (Cypress, Magna) Phillies

B.J. Upton OF (Greenbrier Christian Academy, Chesapeake) Rays

International players

Grant Balfour P (William Clark, Australia) Rays

Matt Stairs OF Phillies

Cuba Michel Hernandez C Rays

Dominican Republic
Willy Aybar INF Rays
Pedro Feliz INF Phillies

Akinori Iwamura INF Rays
So Taguchi OF Phillies

Carlos Ruiz C Phillies

Puerto Rico
J.C. Romero P Phillies

Dioner Navarro C Rays

Notes and highlights

California has produced the most players in this year's Fall Classic. The state's total of 12 is triple the next highest state (Illinois with four) or nation.

Of the California players, Jason Bartlett is from the same high school as one-time World Series hero for the Toronto Blue Jays, Ed Sprague Jr. Chase Utley is from the same high school as the Texas Rangers' Milton Bradley and legendary San Diego Padre outfielder Tony Gwynn. Evan Longoria is from the same high school as the Los Angeles Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra. Jimmy Rollins was once on the same high school team as the Detroit Tigers' Dontrelle Willis. There also is a chance that Burrell's alma mater and Utley's alma mater could play each other this December in the CIF state championship football game.

Phillies catcher Chris Coste is from the same town in North Dakota as the immortal Roger Maris, but went to a different high school.

Mark Tennis is a deputy editor of Steve Brand, Paul Muyskens and Andrew Knepper also contributed to this story.