We’ve been good and we’ve waited all year. And now, thank you baseball gods, the College World Series is finally upon us.
There is nothing better than these amazing days when baseball fans from all over the country make the pilgrimage to our fair city. For this tiny space in time, we serve as hosts and greeters who get to become a part of those sports communities as if we’ve always cheered for their successes.
We high-five Hogs, tailgate with Tigers, drink beers with Seminoles and toss corn-hole bags with Wolverines. For a week or two, they’re our sports families.
And for many of us who’ve grown up in Omaha, the CWS is about way more than just baseball. It’s about tradition.
My husband grew up going to the CWS with his father every year. They sat in the same seats and parked in the same lot. He experienced blazing heat and game-delaying thunderstorms from those seats. He devoured a concession stand’s worth of hot dogs and hamburgers there, too.
Once my husband and I had children of our own, my father-in-law generously shared his tickets. Not only did my kids get to go to the games with grandma and grandpa — who let them eat ice cream from those seats — but my husband got to take each of the kids to a game every single year.
Not surprisingly, those games have become the golden days of my kids’ childhoods. They're the yellowed photographs in the scrapbooks of their hearts that they look back on with wide smiles.
“Remember the time Ty fell asleep on grandpa?” “Remember the game where we met Harold Reynolds?” “Dude, I still can’t believe you talked to Bruce Pearl.”
When the CWS moved from Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, my father-in-law took his seats and followed the fans to TD Ameritrade Park, where the tradition continued. Those seats slowly began holding teenagers instead of toddlers; and beers instead of cotton candy and Dippin’ Dots. But regardless of the changes to our faces, the backsides of our family have continued to warm those familiar seats on the third base line.
My in-laws recently retired and moved south, but my husband and I were lucky enough to take over those revered seats. So our children — some grown and some toddling — are still watching the greatest show on dirt from those spots that have become synonymous to us with summer and family. I’m sure someday my husband and I will share games with our own ice cream-eating grandchildren, and eventually one of our CWS-loving offspring will probably take those tickets off of our hands, as well.
And start the circle all over again.
The best part of this is that we are not alone in our beloved tradition. This is the story of so many Omaha families, which is kind of what makes the CWS so special. This event is sacred to our town. The CWS is a holiday of sorts; an annual tradition forged in sunlight, fried food, tailgating and The Wave.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lynn Kirkle is a writer and lives in Omaha with her husband and five children. She writes twice a month for momaha.com, and can be found on Twitter @LAPainter.