Thursday, June 23, 2016

University of Arizona Advances to Final Five in College World Series


There are some stories I love to follow in this time of chaos and uncertainty.  One involves my alma mater, The University of Arizona, where long ago I went to play on their baseball and basketball teams.  I was a Wildcat, a jock, and a member of the Delta Beta chapter of Beta Theta Pi national fraternity.

The year before I arrived on campus to start the "fall freshman rush" the Wildcats baseball team won the College World Series and they were the defending kings of college baseball in 1964.  It was a proud program I was invited to join.

Arizona first fielded a team in 1904, and won four national championships in 1956, 1959, 1963, and 2012.  Legendary coach Jerry Kindall was coach when I arrived and he won three of the four national championships.

The Wildcats appeared in the College World Series seven times prior to this year, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1976, 1980, 1986, and 2012.

The Arizona Wildcats ranked 7th all time entering this year games won during the regular season, 2,347 wins.

Yet baseball is not the only talent of this team.  Here is a story about a creative group of Wildcat players who caught the attention of the ESPN network TV people, not for their baseball skills, but for their ability to make entertaining music videos to motivate the team. So impressed was ESPN they allowed the team to shoot a video used in all the promotion for the College World Series.  Here is the story.

Arizona baseball: Sawyer Gieseke produces music video for College World Series

Eric Vander Voort |
Jun 21, 2016 15:58 EDT

OMAHA, Neb. -- Plenty of talent is on display this week at the College World Series. Even some talent off the baseball diamond.

Meet Sawyer Gieseke, a junior utility player for Arizona. He's played 17 games this season at three different positions (third base, second base and catcher), and he's a film and television major.  Geiseke has a YouTube page for his film work, which often features his Wildcat teammates.

With Arizona in Omaha, Geiseke and ESPN teammed up to produce a cover video for "This Town," a song by O.A.R. (Of a Revolution) often used on College World Series broadcasts. This version is by "Bear Down Revolution," with Bear Down being Arizona's mantra. Gieseke and his teammates went around Omaha for the video, which he produced himself. The band features teammates Robby Medel (No. 34), Michael Hoard (No. 31) and Tyler Crawford (No. 30).
This Town Video

Let it Slide Video

Under the name Goo Goo Cats the boys did another music video called Let it Slide.

Omaha Hosts 66th straight College World Series
Every year since 1950 the College World Series is held in Omaha, Nebraska at Ameritrade Stadium, one of the best college stadiums in the nation if not the best.  About 35,000 fans attend every game in the annual series in June.  This brings up my second sense of pride in the CWS.

I worked for three Mayors of Omaha from 1969-1973 when major improvements were made to Rosenblatt Stadium, host site for the CWS, and a decision was made to begin plans for a new stadium to replace the original Rosenblatt Stadium so the series could remain in Omaha and continue to host the annual College World Series.  A story follows about the success of the Omaha project with the NCAA to use a permanent host city for the national championships.

College World Series History
It started as a public/private experiment and now, more than 50 years later, Omaha is synonymous with the College World Series.

The College World Series was first played in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1947. Kalamazoo hosted it again in 1948. The tournament was then moved the following year to Wichita, Kan and that year former President George Bush Sr. was captain of the Yale baseball team.

The College World Series was first played in Omaha in 1950 and total attendance was 17,805. Although the College World Series is now a profitable event, it lost money for 10 of the first 12 years that it was in Omaha 1950-1961. Four Omahans who maintained their faith and interest in the College World Series during those "lean" years are due much of the credit for the tournament's continued presence in Omaha. They are the late Ed Pettis of the Brandeis Stores, the late Morris Jacobs and the late Byron Reed, both of Bozell & Jacobs, and the late Johnny Rosenblatt, Mayor of Omaha and an avid baseball fan.

How this community nurtured the College World Series from humble beginnings to its status as a nationally recognized event is quite a story. A story of how the people of Omaha, its business leaders, city officials and volunteers, embraced the Series and teamed up with the NCAA to make it grow.

Today, College World Series of Omaha, Inc., a non-profit organization, is the local organizing committee for the annual NCAA Division I Championship Baseball College World Series.

Guiding the activities of the local contributors and the many volunteers involved in the Series is the executive committee of the College World Series of Omaha, Inc. board. This group of dedicated individuals meets each month to develop policies and plans that assure the success and growth of each year's Series.

It has been our pleasure to host the CWS for more than 50 years.  The Series is an event in which we take pride. A lot of hard work, dedication and commitment of many volunteers, local business contributors and the city, has built the College World Series from its humble beginnings to the enjoyable event it is today.

Continued fan support of the College World Series has made the event a very special place for teams that have had the opportunity to compete for the National Championship.

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