1956 Bradley Baseball Team
Front Row: Dave Wright, Fred Davis, Don Wyss, Wyman Carey, Mendel Mearkle, Don Hakes, Jim Stanczak, Karl Gottlieb.
Back Row: Bill Martin, Mike Kesseler, Don Groves, Del Bireline, Jon Burnham, Ed Taylor, Ralph Wenk, Lee Utt, Ron Lundgren, & Coach Leo Schrall.
BRADLEY, which began playing baseball in 1898, made its most serious bid for national attention up to that time in 1956 when Leo Schrall's hard-hitting team finished in a tie for third in the NCAA College World Series at Omaha.
Finishing with a 24-8 record, the Braves hit .306 for the season, produced 19 home runs and a total of 87 extra base hits.
Bradley scored 10 or more runs 16 times and were led at the plate by Del Bireline (Peoria Woodruff) who hit .434, Lee Utt (Decatur) .367 and a team-leading five home runs; Karl Gottlieb (East Peoria) .350 and Ed Taylor (Manual) .365.
The team's leading pitcher was Wyman Carey, later to play minor league ball, who went 11-2 and produced 120 strikeouts in 113 innings and a 2.05 earned run average.
After going 19-6 in the regular season, the Braves whipped Oklahoma A&M 13-10 and 16-12 to win the Missouri Valley Conference championship after finishing first in the Eastern Division with a 7-2 record.
North Dakota State was bombed 11-2 to win District 5 and put the Braves in the World Series.
Playing without Utt, team captain and most valuable player for the season, and Taylor, not eligible in the NCAA tourney because they were playing their fourth varsity seasons, the Braves edged Washington State 4-3 in the first round (Don Wyss drove in the winning run in the top of the 9th inning), fell to Mississippi 4-0 in their second game, kept alive with a 12-8 win over Wyoming and then were ousted 8-3 by Minnesota.