June 3, 2007
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Hawkins Field Fever
Post-Game Column By Rod Williamson
The boys of spring have become our men of summer. They have worked their way into our hearts and on endless days at the park such as this one, perhaps even into our DNA.
Pedro, David, Flash, Shea, Casey. We know them by first names and nicknames. De-la-Osa is now a cheer.
Another full house - 3,500-plus - squirms on every pitch and exhales with each recorded out. The Class of '08 sits beside the Class of '58, sharing sweaty palms on the kind of evening Mr. Doubleday envisioned when he invented this crazy game.
Men who last played competitive hardball decades ago and women who wouldn't know Mickey Mantle from Mickey Mouse now second-guess Tim Corbin's decision to bunt Ryan Flaherty when he was seven-for-eight on the day. We have learned "hit and run" is not just a police offense.
There are long hairs, gray hairs and no hairs trying to figure out just who is left in the bullpen and who may be available tomorrow evening. Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" comes over the public address: women dance in the aisles and grandpas who mime the words in a hymnal are suddenly singing along as though they are in the shower.
It's Music City. Where else would you have to be to hear the Oak Ridge Boys perform our national anthem? With both teams at attention in front of the dugouts, the moment had a World Series atmosphere.
Hawkins Field sections are developing personalities and no section has more pizzazz than the fun bunch in right field. Whoever's in charge out there should be planning parties. They take care of the "K" strikeout signs, they lead the stirring "Black-Gold" cheer that reverberates off Vanderbilt Stadium and Memorial Gymnasium is an eerily effective manner.
Those bleacher creatures now join with the Commodore reserves that jog into the outfield to stretch and keep limber between innings. There are body parts being stretched in those bleachers that are in dire need of stretching.
Do you think a few minds will wander in the workplace tomorrow as fans play through the game before the game? It may be a bad case of Hawkins Fever.
Baseball has bitten Vanderbilt University. We won't ever be quite the same. Isn't this just great?