I”ve spent nearly two weeks here in Omaha. I’m tired, my clothes all smell like sweat and humidity from the baking Great Plains sun. I’ve put over 1,000 miles on our station vehicle (while I have the chance, I apologize to my superiors about that). But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Growing up in Indiana, I didn’t have an appreciation for baseball like I did for basketball. Being from The Hoosier State, hoops was the passion. I played t-ball a couple years but never had the love of the game like I did for the hardwood.
Most of you know by now I attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. We loved our basketball, and our football team was mediocre at best during my four years. Never did I once attend a baseball game during my time as a Boilermaker student. Baseball just never caught the fancy of students like hoops or football.
Then I came to WCBI and the South in July 0f 2011. Went through a wild football season, got a basketball season under my belt. Then came my first college baseball game I ever went to in February of 2012. I still remember that day.
When I arrived in Starkville that night when MSU was facing Washington State at Dudy Noble, literally everything changed.
College baseball was legit. I use the word ‘legit’ quite often, but this time I mean it.
I had gone to a few MLB games at Wrigley and Camden Yards, but nothing like this.
The crowd at Dudy Noble was electric. The energy was immeasurable. The excitement was palpable. Never have I ever seen or felt a baseball game like this before.
Since that night, I became a college baseball fan.
Granted, I knew very little about the history of the Bulldogs or the SEC. But, I was eager to learn and find out more about what makes college baseball so special.
I learned of Bulldog legends such as Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, Ron Polk, Jeff Brantley, Burke Masters…names that every MSU fan knows by heart yet I had little knowledge of.
It’s a different story now. Those names are rattled off by players of the current 2013 team, and I can feel the names and the weight they carry.
For so long it was those ’85 Diamond Dogs this year’s team always talked about that set the precedent for baseball in Starkville. Today, 2013’s Diamond Dogs are re-writing the history books.
Names like Hunter Renfroe, Adam Frazier, Kendall Graveman, Jonathan Holder…those players join the litany of legacies that have been laid before them by those Bulldogs in the past.
Granted, I know that I’m not supposed to say I’m a fan of these players (I’m required to say that I’m un-biased, but boy do I love my Bulldogs, Rebels, and Tide). But when you cover these teams as much as we do in our industry, you become faithful followers and are drawn to the stories and dreams of the schools.
That’s how I fell in love with this year’s Mississippi State Bulldogs. And let me be the first and not the last to say: they are a crazy group of guys.
From the ‘Bench Mobb’ to the ‘Team No Undershirt’ to the shenanigans and superstitions of the players and coaches on the team, I’ve never felt connected to a team much like these guys.
As MSU finished off Oregon State on Friday to advance to the College World Series Final, I nearly cheered and chanted as any loyal Bulldog follower would in the media bunker here in Omaha.
Once the words ‘National Championship’ began creeping out of my mouth that night, I could literally feel goosebumps coming on. How is that possible for someone like me to have that happen when I’ve been here for less than two years?
I have to give full credit to the team, its coaching staff, and its administrators for making a life-long Mississippi State Baseball follower out of me.
As the National Title series in Omaha awaits, I know what these next few days mean to the life-long MSU fans out there. You’ve waited for years to see your school compete for a National Championship; which it has rightfully earned but never given the chance to play for.
For those life-long Mississippians, I know what this means to you. You have waited for decades to see an NCAA Division 1 school compete for a team National Title and play for the first consensus Division 1 National Championship in the state of Mississippi.
I’m not from Mississippi, nor am I a graduate from a school in the Magnolia State.
But as someone who has called Mississippi home for the last two years, I know what this means to me. And I can guarantee it means the same if not more to you. Go Dawgs.
**Don’t miss our special pre-game show, “HISTORY: The Bulldogs Run to the College World Series Final” before the Mississippi State-UCLA series begins. Stay tuned immediately following WCBI News at Six on Monday for this special presentation.