Xtra Points: Dan Madden reflects on Parker's state baseball berth
Janesville Parker’s run to the state baseball tournament this week prompted former coach Dan Madden to pull out his scrapbooks.
Madden helped guide the Vikings to state six times between 1974 and 1992 and retired from the program in 1997.
He shared some reflections on his tenure and on this year’s Parker team for a story that will run in Sunday’s Gazette and will be found on gazettextra.com. Make sure to check out that story, John Barry’s tale about third baseman Brennan Olin competing through knee injuries and a game-by-game lookback at how Parker got to state.
For now, here are some extra reflections from Madden:
On the difficulty of making it to state: “It’s tough. Getting to the state tournament is not easy. We had some good clubs. In ’69, we had three guys off the high school team sign major league contracts, and they weren’t able to get there. … That’s an indication of how tough it is to get there.”
Reflecting on the first few trips to state: “In 1974, when we got there, it was a tough time. We were there for three days, and it rained every day. So they sent us home and we came back the following week and started all over again. … That wasn’t much fun. Of the first three years we went (’74, ’75, ’77), the opening day of the state tournament was rained out every day. So the third year they called it the Janesville Parker jinx.”
On winning the state title in 1977: “Our Big Eight Conference record that year was 5-7, and our overall record was 12-7. We had the poorest record in the state tournament field. We got hot at the right time. That’s the secret. … We gave up four runs in three games. We won 2-1, 4-1 and 6-2.”
On making the semifinals in 1982: “We won the first game and lost the second. We won 2-1 and lost 2-1. In that game we lost, we were running a double suicide, and our second runner got thrown out at the plate. The first runner scored and gave us our run, but the second runner got thrown out at the plate.”
On making the title game in 1985: “One of the leaders of that team is Mike Brooks, who is an assistant coach on (this year’s) team. Mike had a grand slam in our first game in 1985, and we won 6-2 over Salem Central. And then he pitched a six-hitter in the next game and we won 9-1. … It was kind of quirky how we lost the state championship game. Milwaukee Tech was playing Eau Claire in the first game of the tournament, and the first inning they couldn’t get out of it. Eau Claire was ahead like 5-0, so they took their best pitcher out. But they came back to win that game, and in the state championship game they still had their best pitcher. And we were down to our No. 3 pitcher, who happens to be Jim Welch, who’s boy (Brock) is on this year’s team. I think we lost 4-2 in that game.”
What advice might you have for this team of players making the program’s first trip to state in 22 years?: “Once the first pitch is thrown, all the excitement goes away. These guys have played enough that it won’t bother them. I’m not worried about that. … I found out that once the first pitch is thrown, the kids lose (that nervousness) and they just get themselves in the game, and it just goes from there. But I would just tell them to enjoy the moment. These state opportunities don’t come around that often. As you can tell, we haven’t gone in 22 years, so this is something they’re going to remember the rest of their lives. Enjoy the moment, but also remember you’re going up there to do a job—and that’s not just to be in the state tournament, but to win the state tournament. And it’s entirely possible, because we’ve done it before.”