More than three decades have passed since Cal State Fullerton captured its first College World Series title, but the championship memento on the left field wall at Goodwin Field isn’t all that remains from that team.
In 1979, Tim Wallach and Kurt Kingsolver helped lead the Cal State Fullerton baseball team to the first of its four national championships. Both moved on to play professionally, and Wallach, who was a five-time MLB All-Star, is currently the third base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Those who attend a game this season, however, will notice that there is still a Wallach and a Kingsolver on the CSUF roster. There’s a solid chance they’ll be in the starting lineup, too.
Tim and Kurt went on to have sons after their college careers, and each have one playing for the 2013 Titans—catcher Chad Wallach and outfielder Austin Kingsolver. Both have played a role in CSUF’s 28-4 start and No. 4 national ranking.
Though their fathers have certainly set a high standard, the sons of ‘79 are going about their business like anyone else.
“We’ve both had to pave our own way to get here. It wasn’t just handed to us,” said Austin. “There’s always pressure here to do well because it’s Cal State Fullerton, but I don’t think there’s any footsteps I need to fill.”
“Obviously both our fathers were great players, but I think we’re our own players,” said Chad. “He (Austin) is probably different than the way his dad played. I know I’m different than the way my dad played, and you can’t try to live up to their standards, because to be honest, my dad’s numbers were pretty ridiculous (.392 BA, 39 HR, 182 RBI in 132 games during the 1978 and 1979 seasons; 1979 Sporting News College Player of the Year), so I think if I try to live up to that, I’m gonna fail for sure. So I just try to be my own guy and do what I can for the team.”
Chad and Austin have yet another thing in common—from a young age, they received instruction from their baseball-savvy fathers.
“He taught me all the fundamentals, how I should play the game,” Austin said. “And then he just let me grow from there.”
“My dad coached me all through little league and travel ball, so I grew up playing for him,” Chad said.
While Tim is no longer able to see much of Chad’s play due to coaching duties, Austin calls his dad a die hard who attends every game from behind the Titan dugout.
“He loves it,” Austin said. “He loves watching the Titans.”
When asked what their fathers’ most important lesson has been, both touched on the same subject.
“Just play the game the right way,” said Chad of the philosophy that was handed down to him. “Play hard, all the time. That’s the main thing.”
“Always play hard. Always have fun,” Austin said.
Members of the ‘79 team have stayed in touch and also had some fun, according to Chad.
“I’ve seen my dad meet a couple guys from that ‘79 team. They act like they’re buddies, that they’ve talked since ‘79, just really close, and I think winning a championship does that to a team,” Chad said.
“That bond will never go away, probably. It’s something that stays with you,” Austin said.
Tim, a member of the National College Baseball Hall of Fame, had his number 29 retired by CSUF. But the school permitted Chad to pay tribute to his father by wearing it while a Titan.
“Number 29 was retired, and the coaches here my freshman year asked if I wanted to bring it out of retirement while I was here so I could wear it,” Chad said.
When asked if they’d pass the game down to a third baseball-playing generation, Chad and Austin didn’t rule out the possibility. It’s said that there’s a first for everything—including perhaps even for a third-generation Titan to take the field.
“If they’re good enough, yeah,” Chad said. “We’ll see, but yeah, definitely have them grow up playing the game. If they love it, then I’m sure they’ll keep playing and hopefully they’ll play here one day, but they gotta be their own kid, so if they don’t like it, then I’ll have to deal with it.”
“I think the same thing,” said Austin in response to Chad’s statement. “If they don’t want to play, I won’t make them, but if they do and they’re good enough and they want to play at Fullerton, I’m all for it.”
Who knows—if the sons of ‘79 become the kings of ‘13, some future journalist could be writing about how their children share some kind of special relationship.
With a 28-4 record and a No. 4 national ranking, this season’s Titan team could get their own championship memento in the outfield.