OMAHA, Neb. -- "This is my fourth time in Omaha. I just got sick of waiting for us to come here."
No wonder Mississippi alum Travis Waters got sick of waiting. The Rebels haven’t been to the College World Series since 1972 -- more than four decades ago.
Though this generation of Rebels is new to the excitement of the College World Series, the greatness of a CWS berth isn’t lost on them.Sitting in the second deck of TD Ameritrade Park, Waters cheered on as Ole Miss took on Virginia on Sunday -- an experience he calls “surreal and giddy.”
Waters, a 2004 grad, only missed two home games as a student and drove 11 hours on Saturday from Nashville, Tennessee, to Omaha.
“I sat through three Super Regionals. We always knew we’d be here,” Waters said, voice cracking. “We always knew this place would be red.”
But Waters -- while an Ole Miss fan -- now works in the medical center marketing department at none other than another CWS participant, Vanderbilt.
“It’s fun. They’re on two separate sides of the bracket, so I can pull for both of them right now. But if it comes to the end, it’s Ole Miss all the way,” Waters said.
But if you thought Waters was a diehard fan, you haven’t met the Ole Miss fans a few sections over.
Clad in all red with shirts reading “Olemaha,” the Right Field Suds Club transplanted from right field at Swayze Field to right field at TD Ameritrade Park without batting an eye.
Mark Downs sits with the same people in the same spot every day at Mississippi’s home games. He drove from Oxford, Mississippi, to Omaha to see his favorite team.
“We just wanted to be by our bullpen and support our guys,” Downs said of the location the Right Field Suds Club chose. “It’s not about the sport; it’s about these boys. This is the mecca of college baseball. After this experience, I know we’ll be regulars, coming back whether we’re in it or not.”
The Ole Miss fans aren’t content with their traditional fans, either. “We’re trying to convert the Nebraska fans. When they have to pick a team here, we want it to be us,” Downs said.
“You’re not in Omaha,” Downs said. “You’re in Oxford North.”
Waters agreed, “If this is baseball heaven, where do you go from here?”