OAKLAND -- The University of California baseball team entered its season with the program facing cancellation as the school's athletic department faced budget cuts.
But thanks to numerous donations, the team survived and staved off a potential final season.
"It was never a slam dunk that they were gone," said A's manager Bob Melvin, who spent time at Cal. "This is the University of California. For me, that's like USC losing their program. We all were embarrassed. Everybody that was part of the program in the past was embarrassed for the situation even to come up."
Through it all, though, the team persevered and made the College World Series for the first time since 1992, becoming the only Pac-10 school to make it to Omaha, Neb., this season.
The A's, who have five members of the club affiliated with Cal, honored the baseball team before Wednesday's game against the Marlins, who have a former Cal player of their own.
Making its first public appearance since being eliminated from the CWS, the team gathered around the pitcher's mound of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Wednesday evening and head coach Dave Esquer threw out the ceremonial first pitch to A's first baseman and former Cal player Conor Jackson.
"They had a great season and they deserve this tribute today," said A's righty Tyson Ross, who also attended Cal. "It was unbelievable. It was a tough year for them, and they really came together as a team and put something special together."
Along with Melvin, Jackson and Ross, assistant athletic trainer Brian Schulman and scouting director Eric Kubota each have ties to the program.
"They showed the baseball world that Cal baseball is here to stay," Melvin said.