Sunday, June 30, 2013

No crying in baseball...

For years when we lived in Minnesota, my hubbie hoped and wished and cheered our Bulldogs to the College World Series. Knowing he was within driving distance from Omaha, Nebraska and wanting desperately to watch them play there. It didn't happen.

The summer after we moved away, our Diamond Dawgs did make it back to Omaha but we had already made plans to be in our happy place -- Walt Disney World -- and thus had to settle for wearing maroon and cheering with the myriad of fans we ran into in Orlando.

This season when we saw so much potential in the team, Wade began arranging his schedule to allow him to be at the CWS just in case, just in case. He did not even have grandiose dreams. A faithful Bulldog fan, he just wanted to see his team play once or twice in the series. 

When our boys won the regional games, we started getting excited. But then when it looked like we might win out at the Super Regional and actually make it to the College World Series, I got nervous. They were within striking distance of the World Series (no pun intended) and I wanted Wade to go and have fun so desperately. 

The success in the regional and super regional had been absolutely the best medicine for our little family. House-bound following Benjamin's surgery, we gathered and cheered for our favorite team decked out in our maroon for each game. And so I began to hope, to dream, that this team, with so much heart and depth-of-character would actually make it to Omaha.

The timing of the series would be a wonderful time for Wade to get away and have fun with his friends following the surgery. As Dad and surgeon, he had carried the weight of the world on his shoulders for the entire six months leading up to the surgery -- feeling the stress of knowing too well the ins and outs of this surgery, knowing too well the possible complications, the challenges of recovery and the effect sleepless nights would have on his wife.

So yes, I began willing this team to victory. I needed them to make it to Omaha. I wanted Wade to make the trip, let go of the stress, and have some fun.

And those precious baseball players made it. They made it to Omaha. And we ordered tickets, and sent Wade with a suitcase full of maroon to support them. He met friends from college, residency and fellowship in Omaha. He enjoyed every minute of the first two rounds and then made his way home. It had been a great trip.

But our now-infamous beard-wearing Bulldogs were oblivious to my relief that they had made it to Omaha. Those boys were winning. They were on fire as a matter of fact and before Wade left, it was apparent that the entire town of Omaha was cheering our Bulldogs on to win the whole thing.

We watched the third round on TV. And we won. And Wade began to get another dream. We needed to be in Omaha. All of us. We needed to.

Mason and Cate had theater camp obligations. And I was not certain Benjamin could make the trip. I urged Wade to go back and have fun without us. He would have no part.
This is Mississippi State history, he said. You have to be there with me. We have to be there.

And so we loaded up -- Claire, Benjamin, Wade and I. We flew to Omaha and were immediately glad we did. The maroon in the airport alone made me smile from ear to ear. Everyone we encountered -- from baggage claim to our shuttle driver -- spoke of their love of our fans and team. They would be cheering for us -- they hoped we would win it all.

I had not seen these dear friends in almost 25 that possible, Boyd?

Our precious friend, Dr. Pete Smith.

The feeling was different than a football bowl game, more relaxed somehow. Everyone was walking around town. Maroon was everywhere. Some 20,000 fans had traveled to watch these Bulldogs play in the Championship series against UCLA. We began to run into friends we hadn't seen in decades. We had lunch with loved ones, hugs in hotel lobbies and impromptu meetings in the stands during the games.

Our kids making friends with the children of our college friends. Priceless.

Our beloved Dr. Jimmy Abraham.

My heart -- so stretched and weary from care-taking for my dear Benjamin in the month following his surgery -- was filled to overflowing with all the reunions. I could not have orchestrated a prescription for our post-surgical condition more beautifully.

With Denton and his family -- our near-family!

James, Wade and William -- Sig Eps together, now all docs.

Me and Maggie....aka Mary Alice. :)

Pete and Wade were Sig Eps together -- I'm hoping he'll teach one of my crew at MSU!

A table full of Sig Eps and parts of their families! Loved the laughter!

Shannon and Jame, Steve, Kevin, Wade and William. A Sig Ep reunion!

And our dear Rick. Love him so.
My second family in high school -- Mr. John and Mrs. Delores.

In the end, some crazy pitching by the school from California would defeat our beloved Bulldogs. But only in the championship. Only in the game.

This is a team of winners. And if I could speak to this dear group of young men, I would say thank you. Thank you for being a delightful distraction during a season I had dreaded more than you can even understand.

Thank you for being charming and delightful to watch on TV as story after story unfolded of your character and faith.

 Thank you for playing with such heart that all who watched couldn't help but want you to win. And those of us with an affinity for all things Mississippi State were proud to stand for you, with you, behind you as you did indeed make history.

Thank you for giving us impetus to gather from one side of the country to the other (not just from Starkville, silly ESPN announcers.) in a reunion that left attendance records shattered in Omaha and merchants of that dear city wearing maroon.

 Thank you for a chance to be with friends and family. To love and be loved by some of our favorite people ever. Thank you for one more chance to show our children what it means to be part of the Bulldog Nation.

Oh thank you, dear Diamond Dawgs, from left field lounge to Omaha, you have been a blessing.


Meri Scott Carpenter said...


As a communication major, I have had numerous classes with Dr. Smith. Love him... and we have actually made the connection between us! I am taking a class from him this summer also. Hope one of your crew gets to have him as well!!

Meri Scott Carpenter said...


As a communication major I have had several classes taught by Dr. Smith. He's great! We have actually made the connection between us. I am actually taking a class with him this summer. I, too, hope that your crew gets to take from him as well!!

Clothilde said...

Loved your post! It described our feelings exactly! Thank you for sharing your feelings. Imagine my surprise, when reading this and then seeing pictures, when I recognized you and your family! We were all on the Embassy Suites shuttle before dawn last Thursday, headed to the airport. You and I talked about humidity. :) You were flying to dry air and we were returning to Mobile and humidity!

Happy I ran across this and glad to know you all made it home safely. See you next Omaha!