OMAHA, Neb. – How does it feel to finally win a national championship?
It’s like sitting in the lobby of a stadium you’ve never been to before, 600 miles from home, wearing an Ole Miss baseball jersey t-shirt and openly sobbing, so overwhelmed that you can’t even stand up and watch the trophy celebration unfold on the pitch below.
It was like that for Ed Thompson of Memphis, Tennessee, who drove all night Saturday to be in Omaha for Game 2 of the Men’s College World Series Finals, the game they won 4-2 against Oklahoma to freeze this title. “I saw them win the first game and I just got up off that fucking couch and started driving. I got a ticket and I’m not telling you how much I paid,” he said. -he choked, “but it was totally worth it.”
How does it feel to see your school finally win its first officially recognized men’s national championship – in anything – since the school fielded its first football team in 1893?
It’s like leaning over the left field grandstand railing, waving a $100 bill at the Charles Schwab Field field crew, or anyone else who might be interested in earning a Benjamin for filling their cup. of empty stadium with red dirt or maybe even a few blades of grass.
That’s how it is for Lynn and Terry Becker, who cashed in vacation days to come to Omaha late last week. “I want to put some in a jar on my desk,” Terry said. “She wants to sprinkle everything in her flowerbed.”
How does it feel to watch your team go from ranked No. 1 in the nation to fall down the standings like an airless ball, fall to 7-14 in SEC play and have the fanbase and media calling at the head of the coaching profession? Then go from being one of the last four teams invited to the 64-team NCAA Baseball Tournament to being the last team standing?
It’s like standing in your seat and holding your baby, born in the middle of this season, knowing she won’t remember it but you can tell her later that she witnessed what generations many Ole Miss fans have never had before. All amid chants of this coach’s name, surrounded by a resolutely powder blue-clad crowd of 25,972. “MIKE BI-AN-CO!” Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap!
It was like that for the Lincoln family of Hattiesburg. As Father Jack held his baby girl aloft ‘Lion King’ style, he joined in the cheers and confessed: ‘Yeah alright in May I wanted him to be too fired.”
It’s like a man in his 40s jumping through the air and trying to catch confetti as a gust of wind from Nebraska sends him flying into the stands. It’s like taking selfies with your grandpa in his “OleMAHA” baseball cap while he talks about Archie Manning vs. Alabama. It feels like you’re not lining up so patiently for $40 “Ole Miss NCAA Men’s College World Series” championship t-shirts straight out of boxes hidden behind counters at official NCAA memorabilia stands.
It feels good. It’s even better than expected because it wasn’t planned.
“That’s the best,” said pitcher Dylan DeLucia, who was named the series’ MVP even though he didn’t pitch in the Finals. “No one thought we could do this. Even after winning on Saturday night [to take a 1-0 lead over Oklahoma] it was still there. That makes it even better for us. That’s what makes this band so special.”
“I think that’s why over 20,000 fans showed up here, because it’s a special group,” Bianco added. “They knew it was a special group. It wasn’t just a national championship. I sincerely believe that. When the trophy was handed over, when you look in the stands, the stadium has 25,000 in it and it had the ‘almost still full. This group of young men, I think people have fallen in love with them, their story and where they come from. … That’s why they all showed up here.”
— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) June 26, 2022
For 10 days, they appeared in waves. There was the first group, which came to Omaha at the start of the MCWS and never left. There was the second legion, which rolled north as Ole Miss advanced to the semi-finals and the championship series. Then there were the third legs, who arrived on the banks of the Missouri River all through Saturday night and Sunday morning, downright desperate to be a part of it all.
For a year, they had heard about how supporters of Egg Bowl rivals Mississippi State had taken over Omaha. For so many years, they had to take the edge off the Bulldogs, who were Magnolia State’s hardball superpower. That’s why some of them lined up near the home plate outside the Mike Fahey Street baseball stadium, taking pictures with their middle fingers pointed at the bronzed words “2021 – MISSISSIPPI STATE” above “CHAMPIONS OF THE 2020’S”.
Many in this latter group came to Nebraska knowing full well that they were not going to be able to get a ticket. They didn’t care. As Game 2 entered the mid-innings of a tense one-inning affair, Ole Miss fans sat on benches outside the right-field main gate and filled the bars surrounding the stadium , watching TV coverage of the action taking place across the street, only a few hundred yards away.
They stood under an old-fashioned outdoor scoreboard in the Slowdown Beer Garden, like pre-TV-era baseball fans who stood in Times Square and cheered when someone updated a World Cup score. Bronx and Brooklyn series. Among them was even a goofy Times Square-style mascot, someone dressed as a long-retired Colonel Reb, wearing Under Armor sleeves under his Ole Miss jersey like a bad Broadway Elmo but still taking on selfies.
The most popular in-game hangout was the same location that became the de facto Oxford North during this year’s series, Rocco’s. For years, the sports bar/pizzeria has kept a tongue-in-cheek tone Jell-O Shot Challenge, another scorecard, but this one keeps track of the number of alcohol-packed gelatin sips purchased by fans of the eight teams in each June College World Series field. A typical score has always been a few hundred. A crazy number is one that could approach 1,000.
As Game 2 entered the final innings, Ole Miss fans had thrown 16,174 Jell-O shots. (The previous record was set last year by the Rebels’ Egg Bowl rivals in Mississippi State with … 2,965.)
— CWS Jello Shot Challenge (@CWSShotBoard) June 26, 2022
“I think I can speak on behalf of everyone here, of all the businesses around this stadium, when I say we’ve never seen anything like what we’ve seen from teams this week, but more importantly Ole Miss fans,” said Rocco owner Kevin Culjat, who expressed joy that his new friends were closing in on a national title, but was no doubt disappointed that they went to sweep the top two matches and denied Omaha’s economy a day and night of more powder blue buying power.
But Sunday night, as the sun began to set over Omaha and the sky above the city began to take on the unmistakable hue of that Ole Miss blue, these fans seemed determined to make this night last the longest. possible.
“I’ve never had a Jell-O injection in my 78-year life,” said Gloria Poplin, a self-proclaimed “hotty toddy grandma” with a piece of shiny red confetti stuck in her gray hair and wearing a “Don’t Let The Rebs Get Hot” oversized t-shirt. “But I think I’ll go over there and see if there’s any left. And I’m not going to bed until Wednesday.”