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Creighton community recalls fondest NCAA College World Series memories

As official host, Creighton University plays an integral role in the NCAA® Men’s College World Series® each year. For Omahans, the annual tournament is a beloved institution, with wonderful traditions and countless memories attached to it.

As the 2017 edition of the College World Series hits its apex — and thousands of fans forge new series memories — a few Creighton staff, faculty, alumni and friends share their fondest memories of tournaments past.

Kimera Bartee, BUSADM’95, member of Creighton's 1991 NCAA College World Series team

“I have a hard time putting into words how humbling an experience it was. My father, Jerry, was Creighton's head baseball coach when I was young, and he would take me to the CWS every year. I always thought it would be awesome to play in the tournament but I never really thought it was a reality. In high school, during the process of choosing a college, all I could think about was the chance to play in the CWS. At the same time, I felt extremely comfortable at Creighton considering the fact that I basically was raised by the campus. Thankfully, I decided on playing for the Jays, and I met what would become friends for life. Our run in '91 was truly magical and I still believe we would’ve been national champs if it wasn't for the pitching staff at Wichita State. Nevertheless, having the opportunity to play in front of my family and friends at home in Omaha was simply amazing, and it remains in my top three of experiences the game of baseball has given me.”

 

Rob Anderson, sports information director

“As for me, maybe the most memorable individual moment was in 2011 for the first CWS game at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Everyone was excited to show off the park on a grand stage and former President George W. Bush was scheduled to throw out the first pitch. That generated tons of attention and the focus of everyone in the press box. So much so that when the game started and the first pitch was thrown and fouled off, we noticed that the scoreboard didn’t have the ‘strike’ column update. We turned to our left to the scoreboard controller, and noticed that while worrying about everything else, we had neglected to contact our long-time scoreboard operator from Rosenblatt Stadium to work the games at TD Ameritrade Park. So I handed my regular role doing live stats on the computer and ran the scoreboard for a bit while someone else reached out to our Rosenblatt scoreboard operator who was at home watching the games, lamenting the fact that he had lost his job in the transition to the new park. We still joke about it every year when the CWS starts, and he’s done virtually every game since.”

 

Brandy Menaugh, associate athletic director and senior woman administrator

“I remember the last year at Rosenblatt, and the first year at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, specifically because each year there was so much celebration and pageantry, and the flyovers were always so memorable. My most special memory was last year, when I was able to take my then 3-year-old daughter to opening ceremonies. It was her first experience at a concert, and watching fireworks of that magnitude — it will always be something special that she and I shared in celebration of the CWS.”

 

Terry Grindstaff, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions

“My favorite memories are of the ‘hometown’ connections and seeing the community rally around the teams. My first experience was as a teenager when Creighton made the series in 1991. This experience was later repeated in the early 2000s when Nebraska made the series. In 2002, I was going to physical therapy school in Nashville, Tennessee. I drove to Omaha on a Thursday and camped in line for tickets with my younger brother. We were fortunate enough to get tickets and were able to take our dad to the game. It was the evening game, that went extra innings, and we were exhausted when it was finally over. The most recent experience was with the University of Virginia. Prior to coming to Creighton, I completed a PhD and worked in sports medicine at Virginia. I was able to get to know the sports medicine staff and coaches, including Brian O’Connor, who played on the 1991 Creighton team. Seeing Virginia win the series in 2015 was an exciting moment. Since 2011, I have had the opportunity to assist with sports medicine coverage at the Series. This provides a unique perspective. I now have a better appreciation for the dedication and effort that teams put into the College World Series.”

 

Adam Klinker, public relations manager

“CWS, 1989. It was late at night in the concourse beneath the Rosenblatt Stadium grandstand and I was standing with my brother near the stadium entrance as we waited for my mother to pull the car around to pick us up. From out of the shadows of the bowels of the old ballyard, we heard the rumblings of something we’d never seen before — a media scrum. No fewer than two dozen reporters and cameras were surrounding the towering, 6-foot-7 inches Ben McDonald, that year’s No. 1 draft pick and a star pitcher for LSU who had just lost his final college game to Texas in the semifinals. He could barely walk for the crush around him, but we intrepid boys — I was not quite 10 and my brother was 8 — managed to weave our way into the fray and produce a baseball, which McDonald cheerily signed as he diffidently answered questions about his baseball future. Almost 20 years on, I don’t know where that ball ended up, but I’ll never forget the look on Ben McDonald’s face — a bit intense, given the loss, but also delirious and maybe even genuinely giddy — as he basked in that moment.”

 

Sherry Wachtler, Creighton University supporter

“Fifty years of CWS memories for us; 60-plus for [husband] Bill, who enjoyed going out as a kid. In the 1960s, my parents drove up from Coin, Iowa, and Bill remembers sitting in the stands excited to see a foul ball coming his way. That is, until his 6-foot-2 inches father-in-law reached up and snatched it away along with Bill’s dream of catching his first foul ball at the CWS. In the 1970s, we took our kids and friends to Rosenblatt, where we had a whole section of bleachers to ourselves to watch about three or four games during the day. In the 1980s, it was the place to be for our teenaged kids, and, in 1990, our daughter represented College of Saint Mary as a CWS “Sweetheart.” Those were the years of announcer Jack Payne asking the fans in the bleachers to scooch a little closer to allow more fans in and organist Lambert Bartek getting tossed by the umpires for playing ‘Three Blind Mice.’ Now it’s our teenaged grandchildren sitting in the TD Ameritrade Park outfield bleachers with friends doing the wave. Four generations of Wachtlers have been enjoying the College World Series. Sure hope we’re around to see the fifth generation there.”

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