Highland Lakes men on Hall of Fame Southwestern baseball squad

JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER

Terry Ebner (back row, left) and Ben Rundzieher (photo below) are two members of the 1984 Southwestern University baseball team that was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in September. Courtesy photos

Terry Ebner (back row, left) and Bill Rundzieher (photo below) are two members of the 1984 Southwestern University baseball team that was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in September. Courtesy photos

GEORGETOWN — Being the best in their sport is the goal of many athletes. And Highland Lakes residents Bill Rundzieher and Terry Ebner can now claim that accomplishment.

The two are members of the 1984 Southwestern University baseball team that finished third at the College World Series of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The squad was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame on Sept. 10. The Pirates had a season record of 53-16, and Ebner was named to the National Championship All-Tournament team.

“It was a special year,” Rundzieher said. “It was a team full of athletes.”

Four members of the squad were drafted by Major League Baseball teams, while a couple more followed a year later.

Rundzieher, who majored in physical education and minored in special education, was a sophomore first baseman, while Ebner was a junior catcher and outfielder. Both hit in the middle of the lineup.

Rundzieher led the team with a .416 batting average; Ebner had a .363 average.

Rundzieher was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1981 and worked toward the goal of making it into the majors. But his grandmother believed in education. So he went to Bee County College in Beeville in 1982. During a game at Southwestern that fall, he fell in love with the facilities, the campus, and the team.

“We took infield and did our usual stink-it-up,” Rundzieher said. “I watched Southwestern do it, and they were good. I wanted to play for coach Jim Mallon. He came to talk to me; I showed interest.”

Meanwhile, Southwestern made the NAIA World Series in 1983 for the first time in program history. That success helped propel the 1984 squad.

What made the 1984 team successful, Rundzieher and Ebner said, is each Pirate did his job. And if someone was having an off day, there was enough depth to put another player in his place.

“We knew we were pretty good,” Ebner said. “Even though we were a small school, we were confident. And we knew how to win as a group. None of us really expected it. It was another day at the ballpark.”

To help the Pirates prepare for the season, Mallon scheduled most of the old Southwest Conference members, including the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, and Baylor University.

Ebner said he remembers facing Longhorns great Roger Clemens.

“I don’t know if I got a hit off him,” he said, “but I put the ball in play.”

In 1987, Ebner was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds organization and headed to the minors. He compared the experience to the movie “Bull Durham.”

“It was long bus rides and not very hospitable,” he said.

Rundzieher didn’t have a desire to coach until he had a conversation with a friend who asked him a question that lingered with him.

“With all the knowledge you have, do you want someone else to teach your sons?”

So he began coaching youth baseball. Now he is an assistant baseball coach at Faith Academy of Marble Falls, where he also is a teacher.

“Players have a different look,” he said. “If they gel together, it’s good.”

Ebner, who majored in special education, works in the behavior department at Llano Junior High and is a Llano High School assistant baseball coach.

The two still stay in close contact with their Southwestern teammates and noted that weekend activities include the players’ families, much like it was three decades earlier.

“It was a family atmosphere,” Ebner said. “Everything we did was about family. We still hang out, we still get together, all 20 of us. It was something I could share with my daughter and granddaughter. I got to share that fun with my parents. They had as much fun as we did.”

They gather about once a month for birthday and anniversary parties and remain very close, he said.

“That family atmosphere to this day is still there,” he said. “We had our ups and downs, but we always played through it. We expected to win.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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