March 24, 2020

OTD March 24

The United States team featured two future MLB players from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: B.J. Surhoff and Scott Bankhead.

On this date in 1984, the International Olympic Committee agreed to allow the sport of baseball as a demonstration sport for the 1984 Summer Olympics. The demonstration fielded eight teams and would be the first time the sport of baseball was officially included in the Olympics program. The Olympics and baseball tournament were held in Los Angeles, California with Dodgers Stadium hosting the baseball event. The eight teams were United States, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Nicaragua, and South Korea.

The 16-game tournament showcase ended with Japan defeating the United States for 1st place (medals were not awarded for demonstration sports). Chinese Taipei defeated South Korea for 3rd place.

The United States team featured future MLB stars Will Clark, Barry Larkin and Mark McGwire. Also on Team USA were two future MLB players from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: B.J. Surhoff and Scott Bankhead.

Surhoff, a native of New York, was a two-time first team All-American with the UNC Tar Heels batting .392 over his collegiate career (a school record that stood until 2009). In 1985, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Surhoff with the 1st overall pick in the MLB Amateur Draft. In his MLB rookie year in 1987, B.J. would hit .299 with 7 home runs and 68 RBI in 115 games as the Brewers starting catcher.  In 1999, playing outfield and third base for the Baltimore Orioles, Surhoff would earn his only All-Star selection on his way to batting .308 with 207 hits, 28 home runs, 107 RBI and 104 runs scored. He would finish 18th in the 1999 AL MVP voting. Surhoff’s MLB career would last 19 seasons and he would total 2,326 hits with a lifetime average of .282. In 2007, Surhoff was elected to the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame.

Scott Bankhead was born in Raleigh and attended Reidsville High School. His senior year in 1981 at Reidsville, Scott struck out 176 in just 76 innings posting a 0.37 ERA and was named National High School Player of the Year. At UNC, Bankhead was a two-time All-ACC and All-American. His final two seasons with the Tar Heels, Scott won 20 against 0 losses. In the MLB Amateur Draft in 1985, the Kansas City Royals selected Bankhead in the 1st round (16th overall). In 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, Scott pitched in 267 games. His best season was in 1992 with the Cincinnati Reds, pitching in 54 games as a relief pitcher winning 10 games with a 2.93 ERA. Bankhead was elected to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and North Carolina State American Legion Hall of Fame.

1984 Summer Olympics baseball results:

photo: Mark McGwire high fives Cory Snyder during 1984 Olympic games

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