The Marks Post: Baseball at the Box
With two outs and a runner on base in the bottom of the 9th inning, Warren Morris blasts a home run over the right field wall to win the 1996 College World Series for LSU over Miami.
I’ve seen the video of this home run 1,000 times since that fateful day, but seeing it Saturday afternoon was like watching it for the first time. I watched it on the big video board while standing on the field of Alex Box Stadium and got goosebumps.
I was on the field because I had press credentials for the opening series against Indiana.
Saturday was a doubleheader at The Box because of the rain chances on Sunday, so the first game started at 1 p.m.
I got to the stadium a little after 11 a.m. because I wanted to take it all in.
I made my way up to the press box and felt like I was dreaming. I then found out my credential allowed me to squat on the field in either of the photographers’ boxes to take pictures.
After eating two obligatory Tiger Dogs in the press box and meeting former Tiger and Baltimore Oriole pitcher Ben McDonald, I went down to the field.
To get on the field, you have to pass through Champions Club. The doors opened for me to go in, and I felt like a big shot walking through. I then went through the corridor and made it on the field during pre-game infield practice.
While on the field, the dream got real.
Just before first pitch, I went to the photographers’ box just past the LSU dugout on the first base line. An older guy came sit next to me, we exchanged pleasantries, and we started taking pictures.
A few innings later, he got up and walked to the other side. Then, two female photographers came sit in my box. One was older and was a real Chatty Cathy. She tried starting a conversation with me, but I was more interested in the game. She then started yacking it up with the other female photographer.
I could only stand so much of the idle chit-chat, so, an inning or so later, I got up to go walk to the box on the other side past the Indiana dugout. When I stood up, my legs felt like mush because they had fallen alseep. While I was walking, I felt like Kramer on the Seinfeld episode where he met Mel Torme. People in the stands who were watching me probably thought I was special.
I made it to the other box just in time for the next half inning to start. There were a couple other guys in the box. One of them was taking pictures for LSU, and he was telling another guy about how he got to go with the LSU football to the White House after they won the national championship. Those stories didn’t bother me.
What did start to bother me was the uncomfortable position I was in while sitting in the box, so I kept squirming.
To get the blood back flowing in my legs, between half innings I would either kneel down or stand up in the box. That was the first time I stretched during the 7th inning stretch. I started doing lunges and everything else.
Backing up a bit, earlier in the game, I posted on social media, “If you see some guy in a Cubs pullover get hit with a foul ball at today’s LSU games, it’s me.” At some point in the game after I switched sides, the Indiana bullpen catcher misplayed a ball while a relief pitcher was warming up. The ball rolled toward me and hit me in the thigh. I picked it up and lobbed it over to the bullpen coach.
The first game ended, and I was going to cover the second game in the press box.
To get back up into the press box, I had to pass through the Champions Club. Right when I walked in, I saw a group of Indiana fans sitting at a table. One of them, who had been enjoying the adult beverages, stopped me and said he was from St. Louis and hated the Cubs. Well, I brought up the fact that Cub outfielder Kyle Schwarber played for Indiana. We started talking about that and the Cardinal-Cub rivalry.
After talking a while, I wanted to get me a beer after sitting down the whole game taking pictures and getting hit by a ball. But, I didn’t want to spend $8 for a beer, so I just went up to the press box.
Being in the press box was everything I thought it would be... except for the food. Tiger Dogs are good, but I could only eat so many of them. The only thing else to eat was popcorn and nachos. I thought about going crash one of the suites next door to get a plate of food.
The second game started about an hour after the first game started, and it seemed to drag on during the last several innings. I stood up in the press box for most of the game to get the blood back flowing in my legs. I was also fighting to stay awake. Good thing I didn’t drink an $8 beer.
I didn’t sleep well the night before. It was probably a combination of excitement and the two hot dogs I ate at Burger Inn after the basketball games in Oakdale. Anyway, I managed to get through the game.
After the game, I went back on the field and huddled with other reporters to talk to head coach Paul Mainieri. I even asked him a question about Devin Fontenot’s performance in the first game of the day. Fontenot, whose dad is from Basile, threw a two inning save in his first outing of the season.
Later on that night, I realized my dream had come true. I had been inside the Rangers press box while touring their stadium in Arlington a few times and had been in the press box of the Ville Platte-Evangeline Recreational Complex on several occasions, but I always dreamed of being in a baseball press box. Who knows? Your dream might come true next.