Sitting and watching after transferring from Amherst College in 1978 was painful for 6-6 Right Hander Colin McLaughlin to not pitch for UConn. But the Woodbury Native made the most of it in 1979, where he had a stellar season and helped UConn get to their fifth and last College World Series Appearance under Larry Panciera. And a good chunk of those numbers he posted remain among the best single season numbers in school history.
The Sophomore Righty was part of a staff that featured inning eater Dennis Long and Freshman Mark Winters in what was a talented staff and was under the eye of assistant Andy Baylock. McLaughlin credits Baylock for mega work on his curveball and throwing it without doing a ton of hurt to his throwing arm. Despite a 12 win season in an article with the Daily Campus before the CWS, McLaughlin said despite the record, he hadn't pitched as well as he's like. Despite a lively fastball, the breaking ball wasn't consistent and he lacked a changeup.
The 1979 season saw Colin McLaughlin pitch 111 innings (record at the time, now 3rd) win a school record 12 games and strike out 138 batters (again, school record) 9 complete games (2nd) and toss 3 shutouts. The two most impressive in the postseason, a CG 1 hitter in a 4-0 win over Maine in the New England's to keep UConn alive, then in the Regional Final at Navy, McLaughlin tossed a complete game 4 hit shutout in a 4-0 win over St John's to send UConn to Omaha.
However, the CWS Showdown with Texas didn't go well for him or Texas Ace Jerry Don Gleaton in what turned into an 11-5 loss for the Huskies.Where he gave up 5 runs, 5 hits and walked 6 along with two throwing errors...But it didn't keep McLaughlin from earning third team All America Honors for his tremendous season. Off the field, McLaughlin was described as a bit of a free spirit, kind of like "The Spaceman" Bill Lee. In fact he agreed with about 80% of what Lee believed. As he described his pitching outings as "his own little world out there." "But if I got drafted, I'd drop the books and run !!"
Well in the winter of 1980, The Toronto Blue Jays took him #1 overall in the MLB Winter Draft...But as we know, being a top pick guarantees nothing. McLaughlin spent 10 years in the Minors, mostly at Triple A Syracuse, where his best season came in 1988 as a 29 year old..a 9-4 record with a 2.88 ERA where he struck out 8.1 batters per 9 innings and walked just 37 batters. He played one more season with Triple A Calgary in 1989 before leaving the game.
While UConn has produced many a major league caliber pitcher or two recently, very few have matched the numbers Colin McLaughlin put up in 1979. The Huskies Free Spirit and a Diamond UConn Legend