Editor’s Note: Nebraska is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017. As the state observes its sesquicentennial, we are revisiting some of the state’s attractions. Today, we take a look at my Father-Daughter trip to the College World Series in Omaha…
My oldest daughter, Steph, asked me if I wanted to go to a College World Series game with her. Who am I to say no to that?
The CWS had eight teams vying for the national title: Virginia Cavaliers, Louisville Cardinals, Texas Christian Horned Frogs, California-Irvine Anteaters, Texas Longhorns, Vanderbilt Commodores, Texas Tech Red Raiders and Mississippi Rebels.
One of the cute things the City of Omaha does is to “rename” a street in the ball park area after the eight schools.
We settled on the game featuring CWS favorite Virginia and Texas Christian University. We picked the right game, as the teams battled during a 15-inning game. UVA finally prevailed 3-2 on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 15th.
Unfortunately, we were not able to stay for the full game. We left shortly before the end of regulation.
But, I had a great time with my kid. She said she did too.
This was the first CWS game she remembers going to. When she played Little League softball, the sponsor of our team gave us general admission tickets for a Saturday night game. Nothing says “fun” like trying to chaperone 11 8-year-olds at a baseball game. Thank goodness, we had a couple more parents with us.
We enjoyed the game, with the help of a couple of retired guys. We sat in the outfield, the very top row of right-centerfield. We had a perfect view of the action from behind the teams. The crosswind provided some relief in the 90-degree temps.
The gents were from Denison, Iowa. It’ about a 90-minute drive from Omaha. They had made the drive almost daily during the CWS. They provided some comic relief with their jokes and gentle teasing of other fans.
As with all ball games, we had to have a dog-dog, as our family still calls hot dogs. Steph went with the basic hot dog. I had to be experimental. I tried the Danger Dog – a buffalo chicken tender beside the hot dog with some buffalo sauce. It was tasty. Messy, but tasty.
Prior to the game, Steph helped me on an adventure. I’d seen a ball cap I liked two days earlier when Lisa and I came down to take in the fan activities.
I liked a specific UVA ball cap. It was blue with an adjustable strap. It had the school’s V above two swords. I knew the vendor that had the cap. Steph and I walked about six blocks from where we parked the car to the baseball village. The vendor I saw it at, didn’t have it in stock any more.
We went on a mission – hitting each vendor tent near the stadium – in search of that cap! No luck. She thought she found one I might like, but it was just off of what I was looking for.
We ended up heading to TD Ameritrade Park Omaha capless. Oh well. I learned a valuable lesson. If I like the cap next time, get it then.
As I mentioned, a couple of days earlier, Lisa and I went down to the stadium area to check out things. We were going to a movie later that evening at a theater near the stadium, so we thought it would be fun to check out the fan activities.
There were tons of things going on – people checking out merchandise tents, beer party tents, food.
Capital One financial company sponsors the Fan Zone. People can participate in simulated sports – pitching, batting, throwing a lacrosse ball and catching a football.
One competition we’ve enjoyed watching the last couple of years is the Buffalo Wild Wings wing eating contest. Four people need to down a dozen wings in a few minutes. The catch? They had to eat the wings with the hottest sauce BWW offers – Blazin’. Once done, they couldn’t wipe the sauce off their faces until the emcee told them.
The contestants gave it their all. In a rare ending, all four people downed their wings within the allotted time. However, the woman in the group finished ahead of the men.
As game time approached for the Mississippi-Virginia game, we headed over to the players entrance. We stood with the Ole Miss fans as the Rebels team bus arrived. Fans lined up to cheer their ball players as they headed into the stadium. It was the first appearance for Ole Miss at the CWS in more than 40 years.
Virginia won the game 2-1 with a score in the ninth inning.
I picked UVA as my team to follow before the series started, mainly because the Cavaliers coach – Brian O’Connor – played college ball at Creighton (our favorite college baseball team). O’Connor was part of the 1991 Bluejay team that became the first Nebraska-based school to play in the CWS.
My pre-CWS support paid off, as the Cavaliers became one of the two teams to play for the championship in the best-of-3 series Monday through Wednesday. They play Vanderbilt.
As with any major sporting events, sponsors galore line up to hawk their wares. The CWS is no exception. Companies including AT&T, Verizon, Cox Communication, Coca Cola and Reese’s had fan areas set up. The phone companies had mobile phone/tablet charging stations available. Thank goodness, we needed them.
People could try out the Coca Cola drinking machines. Diet Coke with cherry vanilla. Yum!
My personal favorite candy is Reese’s peanut butter cup. They gave out free frozen samples. Yummy!
While the main reason for the CWS is to decide college baseball’s Division I national champion, the surrounding activities help make the event a great experience.
If you haven’t been to a College World Series game, put it on your bucket list. Once you attend one, you’ll want to come back annually.