Arizona Wildcats: Top 30 athletes in school history

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Jun 19, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians former members Mike Hargrove and Kenny Lofton during a pre-game celebration for the 1995 Indians team before the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Lofton came to Arizona to play basketball and ended up playing professional baseball.

The way Lofton tells it, he would have come on a baseball scholarship, but you could not get a full scholarship for playing basketball. Arizona came calling, so he jumped on it. Kenny Lofton grew up in Hoosier country in East Chicago, Indiana and grew up “immersed in basketball.” He feels that basketball helped him play baseball and vice-versa, “Completing an alley-oop isn’t entirely different from jumping a the fence to rob a home run.”

Lofton was the backup point guard for Steve Kerr on the basketball team, and he has fond memories of his days playing with Sean Elliot and Tom Tolbert who he says the team called the ‘The Black Whole.‘ When Kerr left Arizona, Lofton took over PG duties and helped the Wildcats make it to the Sweet 16.

His time at Arizona helped Lofton with his career in baseball, the sport he is famous for playing, “Many probably won’t remember me for my exploits on the hardwood, but in every timely steal, meticulously placed bunt and athletic catch, there was at least a small glimpse of my basketball-playing past.”

Fun fact: Lofton did play baseball at Arizona. He tried out for the baseball team and played in five games recording one official at- bat. Those five games were enough for Lofton to be recognized by scouts. He entered the 1988 MLB draft, and the Houston Astros selected him in the 17th round. While completing his basketball scholarship, he also played in the minor leagues. Keeping a promise to his mother, he continued playing in the minor leagues until he graduated from Arizona earning a degree in studio production.

Lofton played as an outfielder in Major League Baseball for seventeen years after making his MLB debut in September 1991. In those 17 years, he appeared in two World Series including 1995 and 2002 and also made nine other postseason appearances.

Here are some of his MLB career highlights:

  • 622 stolen bases rank him fifteenth all-time
  • Holds the Indians’ record for stolen bases with 452
  • Tallied a .299 career batting average with 130 home runs, 116 triples, and 1,528 runs in 2,103 games.
  • A three-time MLB Player of the Week.
  • Played for 11 different playoff teams
  • A six-time All-Star
  • Won four Gold Gloves
  • Awarded MVP four times

Post his MLB career, Lofton started a film company, Filmpool Inc., for which he is the CEO. He took up golf and recently played with Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez to raise money for the school. He has also tried his hand at sports broadcasting,

Next: Jennie Finch - Softball