Columns - Calling The Shots
Noonan spent two years in St. Louis writing columns and changing his
phone number to avoid death threats from soccer players. Along with working
for the University News, he has also had his work published on AOL
Sports. He spends most of his free time looking for a job in sports
journalism and searching for ways to infuse pop culture into sports.
In his column, "Calling The Shots," we get to find out if a man with
too many opinions and too much ink can be a potentially harmful, yet very
addictive mix. Ryan loves to hear your
Check back every other Thursday for the latest edition.
Current Edition - #94
Friday, June 27th, 2003
CWS: All About the Atmosphere
When Rice blasted their way through the Stanford pitching on Monday night
to win the school's first national championship in any sport, it capped off
a week's worth of some of the best baseball atmosphere anywhere.
The College World Series has been described as "a college baseball game with
a college football feel."
The dozens of food tents, street merchants, beer gardens, and thousands of
friendly people encompassing the stadium help give the CWS its fan-friendly
The CWS isn't the same as a regular college baseball game or even a major
league game. The thousands of fans from all over the country can attest to
that. Over the 12 days of the series, almost 250,000 people walked through
the turnstiles into Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium. 250,000 people watching a
bunch of college kids, most of whom will never put on a major league uniform,
swinging away with aluminum bats.
Even people who have no rooting interest in any of the eight teams often
make their way to Omaha, just because they love the event.
During a trip in 2002, I ran into a man sporting a Miami hat, t-shirt, and
shorts. Knowing the Hurricanes didn't make the trip to Omaha that year, I
asked what the deal was with the outfit. "Well, my (Hurricanes) have come
here enough times that I finally just bought season tickets," said the Miami
resident. "I planned my vacation time around this week, it seemed like such
a waste to pass it up. And don't worry, they'll be back next year."
Sure enough, the same man was in the same seat this season, only this time,
he had his Hurricanes to cheer on.
Bill Berhendt, an Omaha native and CWS season ticket-holder since 1973, can
do Mr. Miami Fan one better. Bill refused to give up his season tickets even
when he found out he was being transferred to Texas 11 years ago.
"I couldn't give these up," said Berhendt, who, like many Omaha natives,
can also double as a CWS history information station. "You never know what's
going to happen."
Berhendt moved back to Omaha three years later and now sits among the families
of the players, just a few rows away from the field.
That's what the College World Series does a person. It gets in the blood.
It's like the salmon of Capistrano. The College World Series has that kind
of effect, people come back every year, just out of instinct.
When it comes to college championships, you can have the BCS and the NCAA
Championship basketball game. The College World Series is something different.
It's a two-week party focusing on fun. This year alone there were bead-bearing
students from LSU, the long-distance travelers from South Carolina and, of
course, the girls from Texas who made me regret not considering Austin when
choosing a college.
And these aren't the pampered athletes you're used to seeing on ESPN. A guy
can hit a game-winning homerun, then have to wait in the line at the men's
room on his way out of the ballpark.
Okay, so the event isn't quite perfect. You still need a master's degree
in statistics and economics to figure out who plays in the championship game.
You'll either need to shell out $20 for a parking space or you'd better bring
a map, compass, and walking stick for your hike to the stadium. And no matter
what the temperature is before and after the Series, you can be sure that
while the games are being played your seat will always be hot enough to fry
But for 12 days, the city of Omaha transforms itself into the center of amateur
baseball. And for baseball fans, it doesn't get any better than that.