The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by re-living one of the greatest seasons in Tennessee State baseball history.
In 1979, the TSU baseball team, coached by Allen Robinson, won a school-record 30 games and lost only 12. Four players from the squad got drafted and the team batted an even .300 for the season.
The Tigers started the season on an eight-game win streak that included two 6-0 victories to begin the year. Later in the season, TSU beat Vanderbilt 16-7 and scored a combined 40 runs in a double-header against Fisk.
Offensively, the team was led by a trio of young players in freshman Terry Blocker, sophomore Curtis Burke and Kirk Forbes.
Blocker was the best all-around bat in the lineup, leading the team in hits, runs, doubles, homeruns and walks. He also was a threat on the bases, swiping 40 bags in 42 chances. Blocker was later drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft by the New York Mets.
Burke was also well-rounded, as he hit for power (four home runs) and average (.348). He also drove in a team-high 22 runs- most of which were Blocker. Defensively, Burke only committed one error in left field. Burke was later drafted in 1981 by the Houston Astros in the third round.
Blocker and Burke possessed incredible speed on the base paths, but they paled in comparison to Forbes who recorded 43 steals in 42 games. Forbes was second on the team with 43 runs scored and tallied seven doubles. Forbes was drafted after the 1979 season by the Montreal Expos in the 13th round.
Outfielder Roy Johnson was also drafted by the Expos in the fifth round of the 1980 MLB Draft. He only tallied 55 at-bats for the Tigers in 1979, but did hold a .400 batting line.
On the mound, TSU was paced by junior James Fitts and sophomore LeeDell Thornton. Fitts led the team with seven wins and a 2.94 ERA while Thornton had a team-high 48 strikeouts in only 45 innings of work.
The team didn't make the postseason due to its independent status, but the club did win six of its last seven contests.
The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU 100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.
Sports Information Assistant Alex Mitchell contributed to this article.
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