The College World Series is unlike any other sporting event. It’s an experience that will deepen your love for the game of baseball and even soften your hatred for rival teams. I know, how could anyone like the Florida Gators? But for some reason, in Omaha, Nebraska my middle finger wasn’t constantly pointed at them. Who knew the Florida Gators had nice fans? Who knew that at this level of a sporting event (equivalent to the elite eight in college basketball) that EVERYONE would be so nice?
There’s a reason Peyton Manning was always shouting “OMAHA”. It’s a great place.Since 1950, Omaha has hosted the Men’s College World Series. Until 2011 it was played at Rosenblatt Stadium and now at TD Ameritrade Park. President George W Bush, Buster Posey, Barry Bonds, Terry Francona, Robin Ventura, Dave Winfield, Roger Clemens and Nomar Garciaparra are just a few who have played ball at the College World Series.
As soon as Coastal Carolina University left fielder, Anthony Marks scored the winning run in the Super Regionals I knew I HAD to go support my college alumni in their first trip to Omaha. It was long over due for Coach Gilmore and all of Teal National. Booking flights and a hotel for the same week is not cheap, but getting to Omaha is worth every penny!
The Gators were the number one team in the country and believed that this year’s team was the best team that they have ever had. The scrappy Chanticleers from Myrtle Beach, SC knocked them into the losers bracket after game one. Most people didn’t see that upset coming. The Big South Conference (Coastal will join the Sun Belt Conference in July) went 3-0 against consecutive match ups against the powerhouse SEC (South Eastern Conference). These boys know how to flat out play!
Florida’s pitching staff used two first-round picks, a second-rounder, third-rounder and 10th-rounder while Coastal’s Andrew Beckwith pitched a complete game and allowed only one run, seven hits and struck out seven. Coastal also snapped Florida’s scoreless streak at 24 2/3 innings when my favorite, Anthony Marks, scored on Zach Remillard’s double.
Ask anyone in teal and black and they will tell you they can play with and beat any team they face. Ask anyone in Omaha, and they can’t wait to watch Coastal play. A TCU fan told me, “they just look like they have so much fun playing together. I’m so excited you all are here.” Getting in the elevator a Florida fan was holding up the elevator (asking his buddy where he bought his jorts from) and of course I had to say “just like a Florida fan to hold up the elevator”. He looked at me (and my coastal tank top) and said “Oh, Coastal, good luck today” and he meant it! Where else in the wide world of sports will the opposing teams fans go out of their way to say such nice words to you? Omaha is more magical than Disney World. And if you’re sitting in the right section during a game you will be surrounded by some of the best and funniest fans in country. I’ve never laughed so hard from the fans heckling behind us. You could call them the King’s of baseball comedy.
Sunday, June 19th will be the greatest day in Coastal Carolina Sports history. As the game was starting former CCU alumni, Dustin Johnson, won the US Open. This was his first major win and well deserved on Father’s day! The sports gods were waving their teal pompoms as Coastal beat the #1 seed, the Florida Gators 2-1. So many fans went out of their way to congratulate us on the victory. And I’m pretty sure my twin brother talked to half of the fans in Omaha too. I spent a lot of time explaining what a Chanticleer was. (The fierce rooster that guarded the barnyard in the Canterbury Tales. Coastal also became independent in 1954 after being a sister school of the University of South Carolina whose mascot is the Game Cock.) He may not be a Coastal alumni, but he knew if he missed out, he’d regret it. Sure enough, we have already talked about going back next year.