CWS: Something I will miss about my old job
People ask me all the time: Do you miss writing sports for a living? Do you miss going to the games?
Most times, I answer that I am quite happy with what I am doing now, that I still get to write a lot and that I am working for a cause that I so much believe in at your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
Today, I have to admit: I would love to be the sports columnist again for the next couple weeks.
The College World Series was one of my favorite events to cover and I was fortunate enough to cover several. There’s nothing else quite like it in sports. I would love to cover the Diamond Dogs these next few days.
Nothing else quite like it?
The City of Omaha knows how to put on an event like this. Omaha is not too big, not too small. It rallies around the College World Series and makes visitors feel so very welcome.
Did I mention I love red meat? The steakhouses in Omaha get the best beef available and they cook it to perfection. They stay open late to accommodate all the fans. They don’t even raise prices during the World Series like most places would.
Did I mention I love to play golf? Omaha has some the most well-kept public (and private) golf courses you’ll find anywhere. The CWS schedule usually allows for plenty of golf on off days and even on game days. We once played eight days in a row while still working eight to 10 hours a day.
And, hey, it’s baseball. It’s always been my favorite sport and the older I get, the more true that becomes. The CWS always provides really good baseball and high drama.
So many great stories came my way during my times covering the CWS. I’ll give you three quick samples:
Most recently: Corky Palmer’s last hurrah. Palmer’s last USM team was going nowhere in early May, then got hot all at once and played its way into the tournament. Then the Golden Eagles got hotter and won a regional at Georgia Tech. Then they got even hotter and won a Super Regional at Florida. The Eagles went two and out in the Series but not before scaring the beejeezus out of Texas. Corky, a lifelong friend and as genuine as they come, had the national writers eating out of his hand. They loved him. It was so much fun to watch and write about.
Can’t remember the years and I am writing off the cuff, but State’s Rusty Thoms has to be one of the College World Series’ all-time great stories. He played left field for the Bulldogs and he just charmed the socks off the bleacher bums at Omaha in two College World Series. They loved him, not only because of the way he played but because of how much he obviously appreciated the local fans. When State finally went out his last CWS game, Rusty tossed his glove into the stands and received a prolonged standing ovation. I get goosebumps now thinking about it.
Again, this is off the cuff, but I think the year had to be 2007, the last time State played in the CWS. The Bulldogs went two and out, but Jeffrey Rea, the all-time Mississippi State hits leader, finished his career on a tear that should never be forgotten. He batted .500 as I recall in that Series. When he came to bat for his last time, the game no longer in doubt, he received a prolonged standing ovation that began with State fans and ended with local fans and even the fans of the opposition standing and applauding. It was, as they say, a moment. I have seen several in Omaha.