John Erickson, 81, the MVP of the College World Series for the winning Gophers in 1960, died in the Twin Cities on Saturday morning after a period of illness. Erickson was a senior second baseman and the captain for the second of coach Dick Siebert’s three CWS winners (1956, 1960, 1964).
Jim Rantz, the pitching star of the 2-1, 10-inning victory over Southern Cal that won the 1960 title, and Erickson grew up together in the Rice Street area of St. Paul and were teammates at Washington High School.
“I first competed with John in cub football … that’s how far we go back,’’ Rantz said Saturday. “John was the All-American athlete of our Rice Street gang. He was our leader on Rice Street, and still a leader as the captain on the World Series-winning team.
“He was such a good athlete that as seniors, a bunch of us decided to go out for high school football for the first time just so Washington would have enough players. And John wound up being the All-City quarterback.’’
Steveson wins again
Gophers junior Gable Steveson followed up Friday’s win against the No. 1-ranked U.S. heavyweight with a 10-0 victory against Jordan Wood of Spartan Combat RTC at the 2020 RTC Cup in Cincinnati.
Steveson needed just 3:26 to beat Wood, a former two-time All-America at Lehigh. The day before, Steveson won 4-1 over Nick Gwiazdowski from Wolfpack RTC. He is a two-time world bronze medalist who will be the top seed at the Olympic trials at Penn State in April, when the two are likely to meet again.
The RTC Cup is a dual-team tournament featuring six of the nation’s top regional training centers. The Gopher Wrestling Club finished in sixth place following a loss by criteria in the quarterfinals against Spartan Combat and a 5-1 defeat against Ohio RTC in the fifth-place match.