Video: Archie Manning will watch from afar as Rebels chase baseball national title

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THIBODAUX – The most famous former Ole Miss baseball player in New Orleans will be a little busy with his family Saturday night when the Rebels open the best-of-three College World Series championship against Oklahoma.

But Archie Manning has a plan.

“We might have (Game 1) going on the scoreboard tomorrow night,” Manning said Friday from inside John L. Guidry Stadium on the Nicholls campus, where the Manning Passing Academy continues through Sunday.

The Rebels punched their ticket to the title series with a 2-0 victory over Arkansas Thursday.

“Ole Miss (was the) 64th team in, and now two wins away from a national championship,” Manning said. “I’m very proud of Ole Miss and very proud of Mike Bianco.”

More than a half-century ago, Manning spent his fall on the gridiron and his spring on the diamond in Oxford, playing shortstop.

He was good enough to be drafted four times – out of Drew High School in 1967 by the Atlanta Braves, and three times in the top three rounds of secondary phase of the draft in June 1970, January 1971 and June 1971.

In Manning’s sophomore year, the Rebels reached the College World Series under Coach Tom Swayze, going 1-2.

“I’ve been hearing from a lot of my old baseball teammates,” he said.

What would it mean for Ole Miss to win the national title?

“Mike Bianco has built an unbelievable program,” Manning said. “I get mad at Ole Miss people who were getting frustrated with Mike. It’s hard to go to the World Series. We’re in the top five every year in attendance.

“Baseball in the … Southeastern Conference, I give Skip Bertman all the credit. What Skip did at LSU, he changed the whole game. He made every team get better, every team go get a new stadium. What did they win, five in 10 years? That’s John Wooden stuff.”

When the Rebels take the field Saturday night against Oklahoma, Manning will settle for being there in spirit.

“It’s so great for Mike … and his team,” he said. “To hang in there like that and rally … and now in Omaha, you can’t say enough about them.”

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Lenny Vangilder


Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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