STARKVILLE, Neb. — They came early. They came often. Maroon. White.
They piled in planes, trains and automobiles for Omaha, for the College World Series, to see their Mississippi State Bulldogs play for the first national title in school history.
By 4 p.m., the streets around TD Ameritrade Park were painted maroon. There were Mississippi license plates in the parking lots. The long general admission line was — you guessed it — maroon.
Two hours before the game, both left- and right-field bleachers were nearly full and nearly all, yep, maroon.
By the time this CWS championship series started, two things looked certain: The Omaha economy was flush with Mississippi cash, and this looked like the most dominating crowd presence at a CWS that didn't include Nebraska or Creighton.
LSU? Sure, the Tigers have had their parties in Omaha. But it's so hard to tell at times how many locals are dressed in purple and gold beads.
On Monday, when the storms and clouds had passed, the sun came out and so did the Bulldogs. They seemed to magically appear, willing and able to turn this into their party. They were ready to become the story of the CWS, to overwhelm UCLA and its little patch of baby blue behind the first-base dugout.
The official count from MSU was 8,000 fans, give or take a few cowbells.