My sister called me the night the Carolina Gamecocks qualified to play against the Arizona Wildcats in the 2012 College World Series Division I Finals series, “Ron, we didn’t make a plan.”
I replied, “What do you mean?”
She said, “Well, you wrote the book, Carolina Baseball: Pressure Makes Diamonds, didn’t you? And they just qualified for the Finals … we never planned our flights, hotels and itinerary to watch them in Omaha!”
“Uh, er … sister, it wasn’t in the budget,” I stammered, but she cut me off, “Well, it’s in mine now and we’re all going — you and your wife, me and your co-author — and I’m paying for it. You just have to work out the details, because I don’t like doing that part.”
Within an hour I had all flights, hotels and game tickets arranged. The next evening we were in Omaha at our seats near first base in T.D. Ameritrade Park. At the announcement, we stood for the National Anthem and showing of the colors and then we saw and heard the squad of four F-16s fly right over us. Exciting!
It was a dream-come-true for me and J David Miller, my co-author, to be there watching the Gamecocks. We wrote about two CWS seasons and the Gamecocks’ wins without ever having been to Rosenblatt Stadium or this new park.
Well, the Gamecocks made the two Finals games interesting, but they lost both. The series-winning game ended with Gamecocks on all bases in the ninth inning with two outs and one of their best hitters at the plate. A Grand Slam would have put them ahead 5-4, but the fly ball caught the incoming wind, changed its arc and was caught for the final out and a Wildcats’ dog pile.
The tired Carolina team had fought so valiantly for so long to eliminate all other opponents they faced, and the Wildcats had won all of their games and came to the Finals well-rested by three days’ rest. Arizona proved to be the best team this year.
However, for writers the good comes with the bad; the highs and lows of life, living and sports are all part of what we absorb and process on the way to writing new articles or books. The experience of all that we saw, heard and felt in Omaha indelibly changed us forever.
Our book has a purpose to help Coach Tanner build a Miracle League ballpark for kids with bodies that are physically challenged to play baseball in Columbia, S.C. “… as close as possible to Carolina Stadium,” according to Tanner. Book purchases contribute funds to that goal, and our story of the Gamecocks program, which started in 1892, is actually a platform for life-lessons and insights that kids of all ages will find timeless and uplifting. http://www.theraytannerfoundation.org is where to purchase the hard-copy edition. For more information, our Facebook page is where you can follow our development of the E-book version and more. http://www.facebook.com/carolinabaseballpressuremakesdiamondsbook