Mike Noakes, winningest baseball coach in Central Section history, produced many great teams at Bullard, but this one was his favorite. The Knights went 31-1-1, won the school’s first section championship, had three players -center fielder Rex Hudler, shortstop Dave Meier and pitcher Steve Ellsworth - reach the major leagues, and another player, left fielder Joe Cooper, play in the National Football League.
Reflecting the Knight’s reservoir of talent: Meier, catcher Craig Campbell, second baseman Don Erikson and first basemen Eric Hardgrave would sign to play baseball for Pacific-10 power Stanford, and pitcher Bill Hawkins would sign with the University of California and pitch in the College World Series.
Bullard’s dominance earned it a No.5 national ranking, a No.1 state ranking and the top spot in the heart of Noakes, a 1996 Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame inductee and a two-time national coach of the year.
The Knight’s tie came against San Joaquin Memorial in a game called because of darkness, and they later defeated the Panthers 11-0 with Phil Flanigan on the mound. The lone loss was inflicted 3-2 by McLane. Other than that, the Knights were perfect - even rallying from an eight-run deficit by scoring nine runs in their last at-bat without making an out to edge Madera 14-13.
The team: Asst. Coach Keith Herzog, Mitch Eisner, Craig Campbell, Asst. Coach Jon Anabo, Head coach Mike Noakes, Rob Baldwin, Kelly Brown, Steve Ellsworth, Don Erickson, Steve Nichols, Mgr. Mike Bird, Pat Millett, Bob Smith, Philip Flanigan, Joe Cooper, Dave Meier, Mike Cornelisen, Kevin Hirayama, Nick Papagni, Lee Jacobsen, Jim Papac, Scott Fjelstad, Rex Hudler.