Toys bind the last two Maryland baseball teams to make the NCAA tournament

The Maryland baseball team is back in the NCAA baseball tournament for the first time since 1971 and plays Old Dominion on Friday afternoon as the No. 2 seed in the Columbia, S.C., Region.

The Terps took two buses to Columbia on Wednesday and players passed the time with an X-Box and an ingenious bit of engineering.

Director of baseball operations Matt Swope said the toy bow that became a rallying point for the Terps late in the season made the trip as well. Swope said there haven’t been any new photos of players posing with the bow posted on the team’s Instagram account after wins because his phone keeps dying during games. Hopefully he brought a charger.

It turns out that Maryland’s last NCAA tournament team had a toy, too.

According to an article by The Post’s Paul Attner before Maryland played in the 1971 District 3 playoffs, the Terps introduced a toy turtle mascot that sat atop the dugout during games that season. The turtle wore a banner that read “Jackson’s Jokers,” a reference to manager Jack Jackson and the team’s nickname.

Jackson kept a poster in his office of the Harlem Clowns basketball team, on which he had scribbled the names of Terrapin players, and the team’s song featured music from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus theme “and words from the men’s locker room.”

“We are serious when we take the field,” senior first baseman Jim Norris told Attner. “We just try not to take everything like it was life and death. We put worms in guys’ pockets, things like that. I remember once we took all the bedding and even the mattress of this guy’s motel bed and left a note saying he was drinking and had to go home on the morning bus and signed coached Jackson’s name. He got coach up at 1 a.m. to try to get out of it. It was hilarious.”

Worms in guys’ pockets?! The ’71 Terps were swell jokers, indeed.

Scott Allen writes about all things D.C. sports. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSAllen or e-mail him if you’ve got a tip to share.
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