Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
ESPN analyst Swindell wanted to be a Razorback before Hall of Fame career in Texas
Greg Swindell, a former All-America pitcher at Texas, will call games at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional for ESPN. (Photo by Bob Leverone/ESPN Images)
FAYETTEVILLE — At the height of the Arkansas-Texas baseball rivalry, one of the Longhorns’ greatest players did not catch the eye of the Razorbacks’ recruiters.
Before he became one of Texas’ greatest pitchers from 1984-86, Greg Swindell wanted to play college baseball at Arkansas.
“It was the old Southwest Conference and it was a little further away from home,” said Swindell, who grew up in Houston. “I liked the hog, I liked the color — just something about it made me want to go there. I got offers to every school except Arkansas coming out of high school. I wasn’t a hard thrower in high school, but I was on a team that won."
Swindell shared that story Thursday as he watched teams practice ahead of the start of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium. He will be a color analyst for ESPN’s broadcasts of every game in Fayetteville, along with play-by-play announcer Mike Ferrin.
The regional opener between Arkansas and Santa Clara on Friday will be streamed on ESPN+ beginning at 2 p.m. The Arizona-TCU game at 8 p.m. will be televised on ESPNU.
Swindell, a left-hander, pitched 17 professional seasons until he retired in 2002. He won a World Series ring as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ championship team in 2001.
He lives in Houston and calls Texas’ baseball games on Longhorn Network. He said he has two nephews who attend college in Fayetteville.
“It tells you where college baseball is,” Swindell said as he looked over the stadium that is expected to hold more than 12,000 people for games this weekend. “This place is packed every night. I’ve never been to this [park] and I’m excited to call a game here. I want the Razorbacks in a night game, though, so we can see how crazy it really gets up here. It’s a beautiful ballpark, a beautiful area and great fans.”
Arkansas’ home ballpark looks different than when Swindell came to Fayetteville with the No. 2 Longhorns twice as a sophomore in 1985, the year he was named Baseball America’s national player of the year. Swindell had a 19-2 record, 1.67 ERA and 15 complete games as a sophomore.
Swindell started for Texas in the first night game played at George Cole Field. An overflow crowd of 3,175 was announced after lights were donated by former players Tim Lollar, Johnny Ray and Kevin McReynolds, and their agent, Tom Selakovich.
Swindell struck out nine and led 4-2 when he was taken out of the game after the seventh inning. Arkansas’ Ralph Kraus hit a two-run home run against Texas’ Curt Kripner in the ninth to give the Razorbacks a 5-4 victory.
“To win when Swindell pitches is really sweet,” then-Arkansas coach Norm DeBriyn said after the game.
The Razorbacks also defeated the Longhorns twice at home to win the SWC Tournament that year, but Texas won the most important game when it rallied from a 7-0 deficit to eliminate Arkansas with an 8-7 victory at the College World Series.
“We had a bunch of great battles and had a good battle with them in Omaha,” Swindell said. “Jeff King gave me fits. I had a triple play during a game against them in Austin. There are a lot of memories.”
King, an Arkansas third baseman, was the first overall pick in the 1986 draft. Swindell was second after a Hall of Fame career with the Longhorns that included 3 All-America honors, 14 shutouts and 2 no-hitters.
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