OMAHA—A few lingering images from the final College World Series game at Rosenblatt Stadium:
• During the postgame handshakes, South Carolina catcher Kyle Enders was carrying the national championship trophy. He got to UCLA righthander Trevor Bauer, and Bauer asked him if he could touch the trophy, then leaned over and gave it a wistful pat.
• As the members of the all-tournament team were announced over the PA system, South Carolina pitching coach Mark Calvi shook his head in disbelief and disappointment that none of his pitchers—not Blake Cooper, not Michael Roth, not Matt Price, not Sam Dyson—earned one of the two slots for pitchers. Certainly Trevor Bauer and Matt Purke were deserving of the two spots they received, but for the record, I voted for Cooper as Most Outstanding Player.
• A moment later, a giddy Chad Holbrook gave Calvi a huge hug and lifted him up, as Calvi said, "National champions! Do you believe it?" I was particularly happy for Holbrook, who watched title celebrations from the losing dugout in 2006 and '07 when he was an assistant at North Carolina.
• I'll never forget the emotion in South Carolina coach Ray Tanner's eyes when a reporter asked him about Bayler Teal, the huge Gamecocks fan who lost his battle with cancer last week at age 7. It took Tanner a good 15 seconds to collect himself before answering. He looked down, steadied the microphone with his hand, then continued with watery eyes and a shaky voice.
"You know, the fact that what we do in the athletic arena—regardless of the sport—we battle, we compete," Tanner said. "And a lot of times you put too much into it and we lose perspective.
"(Bayler) really became a part of our program. And he was always in our thoughts and prayers . . . I've got to believe right now he's probably smiling right now and a happy camper looking down upon us."
• During the parade of goodbyes and see-you-next-years in the Rosenblatt press box, one moment stood out to me. Before he left the press box, Steve Pivovar of the Omaha World-Herald tapped me on the shoulder. "Congratulations," he blurted. I gave him a confused look, then said, "Well, congratulations to you too, Piv!" He grinned sheepishly and said, "What am I saying congratulations to you for? I don't even know what I'm saying!"
It was that kind of night—lots of emotions and thoughts running into each other in everyone's heads. Pivovar, the unofficial Rosenblatt historian and the driving force behind the World-Herald's terrific book about the stadium, has seen just about everything in his three decades covering the CWS. But before he left he turned to me and said, "I didn't think I'd ever see a team win six straight games here." What a truly amazing, historic run by the Gamecocks.
• After the on-field trophy presentations concluded, the lights were cut off and a "One Shining Moment"-esque montage played on the video board, with U2's "City of Shining Light" playing in the background. Very well done. At the conclusion of the montage—which featured an image of South Carolina's dogpile right as the last note of the song was struck—fireworks went off beyond the center-field fence, set to U2's "Beautiful Day." Then a trumpet player took the field behind home plate and performed a slow, quiet, stirring rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."
• After I left the ballpark, I turned down Frederick Street, which runs parallel to I-80 and connects 13th and 10th streets. Frederick Street gave me one final look at illuminated Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha's Diamond on the Hill. It was beautiful. It will be greatly missed.
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