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Tuesday March 18, 2014 Bo, Jameis, and Heisman winners at McKethan Stadium

Updated: 3:04pm, March 18

McKethan Stadium

McKethan Stadium is expected to be crowded tonight when No. 1-ranked FSU visits Florida.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida baseball team is celebrating its 100th season in 2014 and welcomes No. 1-ranked Florida State to town Tuesday night.

The Seminoles are not only good, but they are a big story wherever they go because of their closer and part-time outfielder, a guy named Jameis Winston.

Yup, the same guy who led FSU to the national title last fall and is in his second season with FSU’s baseball team.

Winston is FSU’s closer and has pitched in seven games. He has three saves, 13 strikeouts and a 0.84 ERA over 10 2/3 innings. At the plate, Winston is 3-for-16 (.088) with a double and RBI.

Winston

There’s no guarantee Winston will make an appearance tonight against the Gators, who have heated up to win seven of their last eight games.

What is certain is that a big crowd is expected at McKethan Stadium. As of this morning, only general admission tickets remained for purchase.

The potential of Winston playing tonight got me wondering if a Heisman Trophy winner has ever played at McKethan Stadium.

My initial thought was that Winston would be only the second, joining former Auburn slugger and star running back Bo Jackson.

So, I started to search the Google newspaper archives and the Auburn baseball media guide to confirm my suspicion.

Turns out that Winston, to my knowledge, would be the first Heisman winner, certainly in the modern era – here is a complete list of winners – to play in a baseball game at McKethan Stadium. Of course, if Tim Tebow, Danny Wuerffel or Steve Spurrier ever played for recreation at Florida’s home field, that does not count.

Jackson almost made it to McKethan.

The Gators did not face Auburn during Jackson’s freshman season in 1983 or his junior year in ’85. Jackson did not play baseball in 1984 after suffering a hip injury during the football season.

However, as a senior in 1986 and four months after Jackson won the Heisman Trophy, Auburn came to Gainesville for a three-game series from April 4-6.

Bo Jackson

If the series had been scheduled two weeks earlier, Jackson (photo: JoeMcNally.com) would have played.

However, about 10 days before the Tigers arrived, Jackson was declared ineligible for further intercollegiate play by the Southeastern Conference when he accepted a plane ride to Tampa to undergo a physical examination by the Tampa Bay Bucs, who owned the first overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft.

His college career was over. It was big news at the time.

“If there’s a superstar, he’s it,’’ former UF coach Joe Arnold told reporters.

“I don’t think his not being in the lineup will hurt us that badly [in attendance],’’ then-UF Associate Athletic Director Jeremy Foley told The Gainesville Sun. “Our baseball team is on a roll now, with six straight victories, and I think that will bring out our fans. We may lose a few, but I don’t think Jackson’s not being in the lineup will hurt us that much.”

The Gators won the first game of the series before dropping the last two.

Jackson went on to become an American icon as a dual-sport star with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and MLB’s Kansas City Royals.

No word if Bo Knows Jameis.

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