Omaha, Nebraska boasts a population 420,000ish making it the nation’s 42nd largest city. Conversely it maintains an inviting, small-town feel. On the map, the Missouri River slithers through the center of the city and assisted pioneers with its discovery in the mid 1800s.
Pacing the cobblestones of the Old Market District, you’ll be tempted to indulge your taste buds at the Upstream Brewing Company, Twisted Fork, and Spaghetti Works to name a few. And afterwards, if you play your cards wisely, you might end up at Ted and Wally’s for some delectable homemade ice cream in every sense of the word. Omaha is a nice, enjoyable city by most accounts. They take pride in their people, events, and steaks.
All that said, I’d be shocked if tour guide was on my future occupation list. However, for two weeks each June, Omaha is much more than the lovely aforementioned tidbits. Omaha instantly morphs into the college baseball capital of the world… Draped in 8 school’s hopeful colors coupled with the perfect dosage of optimism, youth, and enthusiasm, life is breathed into Omaha, Nebraska.
Far more than the now famous Peyton Manning audible call, it hosts one of the premier events in all of sports. Unique in its simplicity and innocence, the College World Series takes you back to the glory days of youth tournament baseball… reminding you the beauty of America’s pastime.
Last June, I found myself returning from a European backpacking trip shortly after Mississippi State had dogpiled in Charlottesville, VA, meaning the next stop was Omaha. Having not been home, jetlagged and foggy as could be, after the Bulldogs opening game victory over Oregon State, the decision was easy to head towards the Cornhusker State.
With each Bulldog victory, the excitement grew and led to more visible maroon around town. Reinforcements came in to replace those who regretfully returned to work. Workers at hotels and restaurants were adopted into the MSU family and donned maroon shirts to games.
In between smashing Doozy’s amazing sandwiches, Ted and Wally’s Homemade Ice Cream, and candy from the countless candy stores in the Old Market District, we weathered the heat and storms to soak in baseball in its finest form.
The atmosphere at TD Ameritrade was a healthy dose of locals, passionate fans (with maroon every where you looked), beach balls, and a couple girls running on the field for the sake of a cool Vine.
Matching the beauty of the experience is the lifelong memories it provides. Everyone needs to experience the College World Series, even if just for the event. And while the Bulldogs fell a painful two games short of bringing home a national championship, the memories created in Omaha are anything but second tier…
- I’ll remember the national media falling in love with the Bench Mobb (2nd “B” silent… headed by the Ross and Evan Mitchell and Jacob Lindgren), Ross getting catapulted out of the dugout before every game, and Team No Undershirt running around with belts tied around their heads.
- I’ll remember pounding DoubleTree cookies by the dozen, riding awkward two-person bikes around town, and the awesome movie theater with recliners.
- I’ll remember the town being painted in maroon, with thousands waiting hours for general admission tickets during tornado-like storms one morning.
- I’ll remember meeting up with friends old and new, finding creative ways to spend the loads of time in between games, hotel hopping and sleeping on a cot in some of the players’ room.
- I’ll remember not only the “MAROON… WHITE” chant we did with a tiger (the tiger voiced the MAROOOON portion) at the Henry Doorly Zoo, but when the same cheer was belted pridefully from the crowd even as UCLA was celebrating… along with the “Hunter Renfroe” and “Adam Frazier” chants that echoed through the stands when the outcome was inevitable.
- I’ll remember the lines to take a goofily-posed picture with the statue in front of TD Ameritrade Park and visiting the location (now a wiffle ball field) of the old Rosenblatt Stadium.
- I’ll remember kids crazily mistaking me for a player in the lobby of the hotel and asking for my autograph.. I definitely never signed one……
- I’ll remember the picture and story of my friend Jonathon Josey’s dad’s arms raised high in victory just above Hunter Renfroe as he made a ridiculous grab to ensure a game one victory… fulfilling his promise to his mom and finally making it to Omaha… as well as Renfroe’s bomb and salute that sent the Dawgs into the Championship series vs. UCLA.
- I’ll remember friendships with the players, and their magical run going further than any other team in Mississippi State sports history.
But most of all I’ll remember the memories. Redundant? Nah… Get to Omaha. Experience it. Make your own memories you’ll never forget.