All-Time Best Baseball Teams (13-25)

Redwood of Larkspur shortstop Buddy Biancalana was leading player for 1977 team that is ranked among best in NorCal history. Photo: Bill Fox (from Cal-Hi Sports archives).

Redwood of Larkspur shortstop Buddy Biancalana was leading player for 1977 team that is ranked among best in NorCal history. Photo: Bill Fox (from Cal-Hi Sports archives).

A third team from 2003 season makes the cut, but no team from 2013 gets this high. Leading this group also is McClatchy of Sacramento 1951, Rancho Bernardo of San Diego 2000 and two teams from San Diego High.

Note: The first Cal-Hi Sports e-book, “California: The Baseball Capital of the World” is now available on Amazon, iTunes and other on-line e-book stores such as Kobo and Barnes & Noble. You can download a 27-page free sample of the book into your phone on iTunes now. This covers all the reasons why our state is so great in the sport, from MLB to the Cal League, from colleges, high school (of course) and Little League. We also have lists of all-time top high school players from San Diego, Orange County, the Inland Empire, L.A. City, CIF Central Section, Sacramento, SF/Peninsula and Oakland/East Bay. It’s just $3.99 to order. CLICK HERE for the link to the book on Amazon.

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Here are the next 13 teams in the top 25 California high school baseball teams of all-time (through 2013 season):
For writeups of the No. 1 to No. 12 teams, CLICK HERE.

13. McClatchy (Sacramento) 1951
Record: 22-0-1; Head Coach: Cliff Perry

Due to being unbeaten in the days when Sacramento city baseball was as its best, the Lions can still make a claim at being the greatest team in Sacramento history.

The team’s only close game was an 11-11 tie with Christian Brothers that was called due to darkness. The 23-game unbeaten streak didn’t end until it reached 40 games during the 1952 season. It is still one of the five longest unbeaten streaks in state history.

As with all great teams, McClatchy could hit and pitch. Earl Rose led the hitting with a .521 average followed by junior Peter Stathos at .512. As a team, the Lions batted .309. Sophomore Ralph Rose (Earl’s brother) was one of the top pitchers, along with Chris Christian and J.C. Masters. Catcher Bob Jones and junior first baseman Dick Traversi were two more All-City players.

14. Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) 2000
Record: 30-3; Head Coach: Sam Blalock

This looks like the best combination of star players and team accomplishment among all of those that have been coached by Blalock, one of the state’s all-time win leaders who just finished his 37th season with another CIF San Diego Section title.

After the Broncos nipped Vista 1-0 in the CIF San Diego Section Division I final, they were ranked No. 1 in the nation. The only run of that game came on a home run by David Georgis. It also was the team’s 75th homer of the season, which tied the state record.

Two players from the roster were chosen in the first round of the 2000 MLB Draft – pitcher Matt Wheatland (eighth) and catcher Scott Heard (25th). Junior outfielder Danny Putnam also earned all-state recognition as did a sophomore pitcher, Cole Hamels, who eight years later would be MVP of the World Series.

15. Redwood (Larkspur) 1977
Record: 33-3; Head Coach: Al Endriss

The Giants were awarded a mythical national title after this season by the Easton Bat Company, but we have them No. 2 in the state behind Edgewood of West Covina, which was 29-1. With Edgewood making these rankings, Redwood’s 1977 team can be this high as well. The 1977 Giants also were better than Redwood’s 1978 squad that is listed as State Team of the Year.

One of Redwood’s losses was by 2-1 to the Taiwan national team in a game that was tied 1-1 after seven innings. Two losses were to league rival Terra Linda (a team the Giants also beat) while two notable wins were against top teams from Oregon and Washington.

The most famous player on the team was infielder Buddy Biancalana, who was a hero for the Kansas City Royals in the 1985 World Series. Third baseman Greg Zunino set a state record by scoring 65 runs and helped the team score 356 runs for a NorCal record. The Giants also had 358 hits, a total that still makes the state record book. Pitchers David Hoffmeister and Steve Travers (both who pitched at USC) along with outfielders Steve Hoffmire and Jim Connor were among the team’s other standouts.

16. Sacred Heart (San Francisco) 1961
Record: 32-2; Head Coach: Dick Murray

Future major league pitcher Frank Bertaina led the Irish to a memorable season. He pitched a two-hitter and struck out 16 when Sacred Heart closed out the San Francisco Academic Athletic Association playoffs with a 2-0 win over Balboa before 6,106 at Candlestick Park. In regular season league games, Bertaina went 10-0 with a 0.27 ERA and struck out 151 batters. He also batted .451 with 25 RBIs.

With other top hitters such as Bill Phelan, Ron Butori and Frank Tamony (who later went on to become a top teacher/coach at De La Salle of Concord and is now in that school’s athletic hall of fame), Sacred Heart had a team batting average of .333. Phelan also was another of the squad’s top pitchers.

The win over Balboa also capped a 12-year run by Dick Murray as the team’s coach. Murray, who had to step down after the season because he wasn’t on the teaching staff of the school, had a 300-65 record for the Irish.

Aaron Hicks went from being part of an all-time top 25 team at Long Beach Wilson to starting in the outfield of the Minnesota Twins. Photo: Scott Kurtz.

Aaron Hicks went from being part of an all-time top 25 team at Long Beach Wilson to starting in the outfield of the Minnesota Twins. Photo: Scott Kurtz.

17. San Diego 1949
Record: 29-3; Head Coach: Mike Morrow

If the name of the coach sounds familiar, it’s because the top division at the annual Lions Club tournament in San Diego is named in honor of the legendary head coach of the Cavemen.

Morrow had three No. 1 teams on the all-time state list in the 1940s, but the 1949 squad may have been the best. All three losses were to out-of-state teams early in the season and the team dominated in the CIF Southern California playoffs.

In the semifinals, San Diego defeated Pomona 13-5 with a 13-hit attack, including two triples from Clyde Thomas. The final was played at Lane Field in San Diego and was against powerful Santa Barbara, which featured future MLB Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews. Even though Mathews homered and had two hits, the Hilltoppers (as they also were called) won easily 8-2. Curt Everett and Tom Martinez both cracked two-run singles and Jack Smith pitched a fine game against the rest of the Dons’ lineup. Ray McCoy was the team’s other top pitcher.

In all, seven players on the team hit .300 or better and the squad averaged 15 runs per game. It also was San Diego High’s second straight CIF SoCal title.

18. Fountain Valley 1995
Record 26-3-1; Head Coach: Ron LaRuffa

Wins of 2-1 over Fontana and 14-7 over Bishop Amat of La Puente gave the Barons their second straight CIF Southern Section Division I championship. They became the first school in Orange County history to go back-to-back in the CIFSS’s top division and also won the rugged Sunset League title for the third season in a row.

In the final game, Greg Hanoian cracked a pair of two-run singles while all-state underclass catcher Roger Pechuls had four hits. Fountain Valley, which was No. 1 in the state for both 1994 and 1995, had a two-year record of 53-6 against some of the top competition in the nation.

19. Bullard (Fresno) 1989
Record 28-2; Head Coach: Mike Noakes

The Knights make the list twice because their 1980 team may have been their all-time best and was separated by nine years from 1989. The 1989 Knights also capped a two-year run for the school finishing No. 1 in the state, following the 1988 squad that had an even better record of 29-1.

Bullard’s 1989 team, ranked No. 1 in the nation, put its reputation on the line by traveling to take on top teams from the South at the Colonial Classic in Orlando, Fla. The Knights won every game and they rolled in the CIF Central Section playoffs, winning their final game 15-2 against Hanford.

Pitcher-catcher Todd Johnson was the team’s leader and was chosen as the 1989 State Player of the Year. He had a 34-2 pitching record for his career (with a 1.64 ERA as a senior). Johnson also batted .429 and blasted 12 homers. Pitcher Bobby Waits and outfielder Darrick Walker were two the squad’s other top players.

20. La Quinta (Westminster) 2003
Record: 30-2; Head Coach: Dave Demarest

At the conclusion of the 2003 season, we wrote that in many years the Aztecs would be No. 1 in the state. They ended up third, but since the two teams listed in front of them for the final state rankings are No. 5 and No. 12 in the all-time rankings, we have no problem putting them top 20 all-time.

State Player of the Year Ian Stewart belted 16 homers and nearly set a state record for career RBIs with 166 to lead the way. La Quinta’s ace pitcher, Ian Kennedy, also has not only made it to the major leagues along with Stewart but has become one of the top pitchers in the National League.

The CIF Southern Section Division IV champs also featured outfielder Cole Garner, who played at Artesia of Lakewood as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Garner ended his career with 42 homers to set the section record.

When La Quinta lost its only games, both of which were at the National Classic, Kennedy wasn’t available and neither was top shortstop Blake Crosby. If the team had finished 32-0 instead of 30-2, it would probably be in the top five all-time and regardless still ranks as one of the best teams we’ve ever seen.

21. Buchanan (Clovis) 2011
Record: 30-2; Head Coach: Tom Donald

Including teams from the 2013 season that finished in early June, the Bears are perhaps the top team from the state so far this decade. They were No. 1 in the ESPN FAB 50 national rankings and won their second straight CIF Central Section Division I championship.

Seth Moranda led the team in home runs and finished his career with 32 pitching wins. The squad’s other first team all-state selection was catcher Jeff Brown, who led the team with 40 RBIs, batted .430 and was behind the plate for every inning except two.

Defensively, with Moranda at shortstop and a very fast outfield, this is one of the best teams we’ve ever seen in person.

22. Wilson (Long Beach) 2007
Record: 32-3; Head Coach: Andy Hall

After battling rival Lakewood (which was ranked higher for part of the season) in the Moore League, the Bruins got hot and won the CIF Southern Section Division I title at Dodger Stadium with a 5-1 win over Canyon of Anaheim.

What made the team so memorable was its 1-2 punch at the top of the batting order of junior Aaron Hicks (now starting for the Minnesota Twins) and senior Ryan Dent (the 60th pick overall in the 2007 MLB Draft). Dent batted .496 with 29 RBIs and 28 steals. He was joined on the all-state team by senior Elliott Glynn, who went 9-3 on the mound with a 1.97 ERA and also batted .431.

23. Mt. Carmel (San Diego) 1982
Record: 24-2; Head Coach: Sam Blalock

This was the best team that Sam Blalock had at Mt. Carmel before he switched over to Rancho Bernardo. It was also a team recalled as one of the best seen by longtime San Diego Union Tribune prep writer Steve Brand.

The Sundevils were ranked No. 1 in the state and were No. 1 in San Diego in the same year that Point Loma of San Diego was No. 1 in the state in the second division and was led by pitcher David Wells.

In a memorable section final, Mt. Carmel took a 7-0 lead against Helix of La Mesa only to see Helix rally for a 7-7 tie. Mt. Carmel then won 10-9 in extra innings.

Two players were chosen in the MLB Draft off of the team – shortstop Shell Scott and third baseman Steve Castleberry. Another top player, Darren Balsley, is now coaching with Blalock at Rancho Bernardo.

24. Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) 1975
Record: 27-3; Head Coach: Ernie Martinez

Bill Bordley ranks as one of the top pitchers in CIFSS history and was the ace of this team. Bordley, who is now the chief of security for Major League Baseball, was a junior for the 1975 Knights and went 16-1 with 176 strikeouts. The team surrounding him in 1976 was not nearly as good.

Bordley went on to USC where he went 14-0 as a freshman and in 1978 led the Trojans to the NCAA title. His MLB career lasted just one season, however, due to arm injuries. Another future MLB player on Bishop Montgomery’s 1975 team was third baseman Chris Smith. Outfielder Tim Collins was another All-CIFSS choice while John Guggiana set a school record that still stands with 27 stolen bases.

25. San Diego 1921
Record: 18-5-2; Head Coach: John Perry

This team may be more than 90 years in the past, but deserves to be on the list for sweeping West Tech of Cleveland, Ohio, in what was billed as a national championship series. Note that of the five losses, four were to college teams.

After beating Chico 10-4 to win the last CIF state baseball championship (yes, there were state baseball playoffs in those days), the Cavemen (nickname was switched later to Cavers) swept the Ohio team 10-0 and 7-6 before crowds of 12,000 and 10,000 in San Diego. The Cavemen also won their third CIF state title in four years.

25 more great high school teams from California history
(listed alphabetically)

Archbishop Mitty of San Jose 2010 (31-3)
Antioch 1995 (23-2)
Arlington of Riverside 1999 (29-2)
Bellarmine of San Jose 2006 (34-4)
Bishop Armstrong of Sacramento 1962 (22-2)
Bullard of Fresno 1993 (26-3-1)
Compton 1953 (23-2)
El Segundo 1966 (24-4-1)
Esperanza of Anaheim 1986 (25-3-1)
Granada Hills 1978 (24-2)
Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood 2013 (28-4)
Kennedy of Granada Hills 1994 (31-3)
Long Beach Poly of 1936 (23-2)
Lynwood of 1964 (23-2)
Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks 2008 (27-4)
Redwood of Larkspur 1978 (30-5)
Rio Mesa of Oxnard 1980 (28-0-1)
Rio Mesa of Oxnard 1985 (27-3)
Roosevelt of Fresno 1960 (20-2)
Sacramento of 1935 (20-1)
Santana of Santee 1986 (26-2)
St. Francis of Mountain View 1983 (27-2)
St. Francis of Mountain View 2013 (30-4)
St. Ignatius of San Francisco 1959 (28-3)
Wilson of Long Beach 1950 (24-3)

Note: This feature and these rankings will be updated after every season. Next season’s feature will be part of the Gold Club membership to see. This season, we’re using it to help promote our e-book, “California: The Baseball Capital of the World.”

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @CalHiSports

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  1. John
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Isn’t Darren Balsley, mentioned in the #23 Mt. Carmel write up the pitching coach for the Padres? Does he coach with Blalock also? Seems there wouldn’t be much time for that with the demanding MLB schedule.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted June 13, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      That’s a mistake on our part. Sam was talking about Darren with us in a recent interview, thus the confusion.

      • Bill Roberts
        Posted December 30, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        Campbell High School had some nice runs in 70s Gordon Huntzi

  2. Tom
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Where’s the love for 2013 Pacific Grove High School? Breakers go 31-0.

  3. Matt K.
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    The 1976 Edgewood team went 28-2 and won the 3A title, with many of the same players on the 1977 squad. They probably deserved a spot in the top 25.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted June 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      There were a lot of two-year teams in which we didn’t rank both teams. Should have mentioned that 1976 Edgewood team within the 1977 writeup, which we’ll be sure to do the next time we run the feature. Thanks.

  4. NorCalSportsFan
    Posted June 16, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    PG Breakers were maybe in the top 10 in their section, probably towards the bottome of the WCAL this year. Their schedule does’t warrant a mention in this article. Although a nice feat to go undefeated, they really didn’t play any top teams on their schedule.

  5. Andrew
    Posted June 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I am interested in finding out the reasoning behind leaving the 1977 Bullard team out. I know Bullard has two others in and an honorable mention, so I’m not complaining, but the 1977 team was 31-1-1 for the school’s first section baseball title, had three players reach the major leagues (Hudler/Meier/Ellsworth) and another play in the NFL (Joe Cooper) and numerous other college baseball players. As far as I’ve heard, the NYL in those days was one of the best in the state, and this team kicked off a six-year run of winning that league’s championship.

    I have heard that Collegiate Baseball News (combined with Easton Bat Company, maybe?) ranked Bullard #5 in the country that year.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      Reasoning is pretty simple. In our rankings for that season, which is the only ones we’ll go by for the all-time rankings, Edgewood of West Covina was No. 1 and Redwood of Larkspur was No. 2. Bullard would be No. 3. Bullard 1977 also was judged to be behind the two other Bullard teams listed plus two from Fresno High (we only listed 1958 and not 1957). Hudler was the only one we found obviously in the majors from that team. Could be wrong of course, but that’s how it played out.

      • Andrew
        Posted June 25, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        OK, thanks for the response. In terms of major leaguers, in addition to Hudler, Dave Meier (a senior whose play at SS pushed Hudler to CF that season) played in the bigs during four seasons in the mid-1980s (and is now an agent; he represents Carlos Salazar–2013 3rd round, Braves–among others) and Steve Ellsworth (a junior, son of Dick) got a cup of coffee in 1988.

        That team’s lone loss was by one run in league play to a team that, before the season, was picked to win the league. The tie was because of darkness, and later that season they beat the same team by double digits.

  6. Dan
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Not much is mentioned about California great little league teams. The 1969 Colts managed by Glen Wood went 20-1 and up to that time were considered the best team to ever play little league in Chico Westside Little League history. They even faced Orville and beat the great Dave Hudgens who had one of the greatest fastballs for a 12 yr. old pitcher we have ever seen. In 1969 they beat the old record of 16 straight victories and went 19-0 before losing 3to 2 to the Rams. They had 2 of the best pitchers ever and some good hitters to boot. The Westside all star team that year made a great showing as well. I think some of these things should be researched and posted.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing the Chico LL memories. Almost every year a California team is in the U.S. finals in Williamsport (including Chula Vista this year). Our state also has far more LLWS titles than any other state. We wrote about every U.S. champion in our e-book, “California: The Baseball Capital of the World.”

  7. Kc
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I would encourage you to look at the 1991 northeast eagles of pasadena md. 24-0 coach Harry Lentz. That team was legendary dominating each and every opponent.

  8. Gary
    Posted August 10, 2014 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Although they lost in cif championship. The 1988 South Hills team was loaded with pro players.

  9. allen rossi
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    How about the Justin -Siena Baseball team that went 27-0 in 2005 and had a 42 game winning streak?

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted January 7, 2015 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      That would be one of best small school teams in state history. Compared to the best of SoCal and NorCal from all levels, I don’t think so.

  10. Steve Wright
    Posted May 15, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Grant Union High School, Sacramento 1969. Ask around, I’m sure folks will agree.

  11. Steve Wright
    Posted May 15, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Grant Union High School Sacramento, 1969. Ask around. I’m sure folks will agree.

  12. Larry Yandell
    Posted May 16, 2015 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    The Hoover High Patriots in Fresno in the late 1960’s were really impressive. Coached by Jack Hannah, thery were always tough and produced some pro players. Ron Dunn made it to the bigs with the Cubs.
    I played for Fresno High class of 68, and we had some great battles with them that year. The 1969 Fresno High team was no slouch either. They had 3 players drafted . Ralph Pipes, Dale Phillips, and Fred Wegner(class of 70)
    We had a heck of a coach in Ron Schiller.

  13. Howard Sullivan
    Posted November 9, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    The 1974 Oceanside Pirates, though they finished 2nd in the county. They beat eventual champ[ion earlier in the year. Record 23-4. Two draftees Frank Ciamachilli and Thad Bosley and two more from players drafted, Davis Meyer and Steve Gelfarb, when they were in college. Playoffs at that time were four games in a week. This team had all of the ingredients that make up a great team; great pitching speed, timely hitting and great team chemistry

  14. Kevin
    Posted February 19, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Surprised Modesto High School not on list, Modesto High School with Coach Parkinson won the CIF in 1930 and 1931, in 1931 Modesto High never lost a game, not even a practice game.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted February 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Uncle Nelson didn’t pick them for either season as State Team of the Year and he would have researched them. We’ll have to look up more info on them next time we do list. They can’t be ahead of the State Team of the Year, however, since it would go against picks already done and widely distributed. Thanks for the comment.

      • Kevin
        Posted August 11, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Coach Parkinson. ( Parky) , Ceres 1926 Baseball Team beat Sacramento High Baseball Team. Amazing feat, Ceres High had 126 students in 1926, Sacramento High had 4000 students. This was for the Northern California Sectional Title. The next year Sac High wins by one run, same title. Kevin Lee Kallvet/ Parky’s 2nd Grandson.

        • Mark Tennis
          Posted August 12, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

          Thanks for sharing. Will have to look it up sometime at the state library.

      • Kevin
        Posted December 13, 2023 at 5:58 am | Permalink

        Coach Parkinson and Coach McKay win the first Football Championship in Modesto High School History, 1931, I have the yearbook. This was Modesto’s first football 🏈 Championship, even though Modesto High School opened its doors in 1883.

  15. Bernie Forbes
    Posted May 11, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    For the record 1978 Granada Hills team only lost one game.

    • Bernie Forbes
      Posted May 11, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      Also for the record Granada had 11 players who STARTED at the division one level (many who went on to play pro ball) we had one major leaguer (Doug Baker)and we also had Elway who WOULD have been a hall of fame baseball player had he chosen that path.

      • Mark Tennis
        Posted May 13, 2018 at 1:44 am | Permalink

        Next time we do this we’ll have to add a few more teams. Also pretty sure Elway might have been that good in baseball, but hard to beat how great he turned out in football.

  16. Bob Hepburn
    Posted October 16, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    1981 4A State Champions – William R. Boone High School – Orlando, FL. – Head Coach John Hart
    Record 27-3 overall, 23-3 season
    Ranked #2 in the Nation that year, we didn’t get to play the team from Maryland to find out. 🙂

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted October 16, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      This is a California only list, not national.

  17. John R
    Posted June 1, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    1993-94 Vista High Panthers, back to back CIF San Diego champs that played against MLB draft picks against Rancho Bernardo (Jaime Jones), Mt. Carmel (Eric Chavez) and Carlsbad (Troy Glaus). These Vista teams led by Cal State Fullerton alums pitcher Matt Stone and Steve Chatham, give us some love too 🙂

    • John R
      Posted June 1, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Correction, one CIF title in 93 not back to back, getting confused w Vista basketball.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By All-Time Best Baseball Teams (1-12) on June 12, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    […] With all that out of the way, here are the first 12 teams in the top 25 California high school baseball teams of all-time (through 2013 season): For writeups on teams ranked from No. 13 to No. 25, CLICK HERE. […]

  2. […] At #7, the 1983 El Cerrito squad that included current coach Brian Nichols. At #15 is the 1977 Redwood team that included World Series champ Buddy Biancalana and the 1961 Sacred Heart team … that featured former major leaguer Frank Bertaina and former De La Salle Dean of Students, Frank […]

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