Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ennis Just Couldn't Bear to Watch

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ennis Just Couldn't Bear to Watch

Article excerpt

Mickey Ennis thought he was going to be sick.

He hid in the back corner of the dugout, propped up on an overturned bucket.

Frozen there by a pair of wobbly legs, he managed Ramapo College in the championship game of the Division III College World Series.

Ennis was only 23 years old. And he was petrified.

"My stomach was turning the entire time," said Ennis, who had scouted out a discrete place to vomit just in case. "I couldn't stand the pressure."

Ramapo had been a .500 team earlier in the season. Then the Roadrunners made a miraculous run, riding a double-digit winning streak to the tournament final. And there they clung to a delicate one-run lead that June day in 1984, facing defending champion Marietta (Ohio) with the national title at stake.

Ennis prayed Ramapo would hold on over the final five innings in Marietta's stadium. And he prayed his stomach would hold on before the Roadrunners completed an improbable 5-4 victory.

"It really was a remarkable story," said Ennis, an Emerson native who's the Madison baseball coach and a Hawthorne teacher. "It would make for a great Disney movie what happened 30 years ago."

Ramapo was not supposed to be there.

Ennis was only two years out of college and managing former teammates -- some of whom were older than him. He did it for a salary of $2,000.

The Roadrunners were huge underdogs riding a hot streak.

And Marietta was a perennial power, reaching the Division III World Series final seven times from 1978 to 1986.

"They were the institution," said pitcher Frank Cuccio, a lawyer. "And we were this rag-tag, arrogant and aggressive group of kids from New Jersey. And we didn't apologize for it."

"They were legendary in Division III college baseball,'' Ennis said. "They were the New York Yankees of Division III."

But there was plenty of talent on Ramapo (35-11), which tied the program record for victories. It produced four of the 10 players in Roadrunners history drafted by major-league clubs, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

World Series Most Outstanding Players Derek Bastinck (Tigers) and right-hander Bob Sudo (Expos) were selected in the ninth round of the 1985 draft. …

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