Three wins, beer showers highlight Oxford Regional
So what could have been the biggest moment in Mississippi baseball history will have to wait until another year. Ole Miss hosting arch-rival Mississippi State in an NCAA super regional at Oxford-University Stadium would have been epic.
The crowds would have been enormous. The atmosphere, well, it would have surpassed electric. The matchup just wasn’t meant to be. That’s the worst news to come out of the past weekend.
Ole Miss, as everyone who follows the Diamond Rebels knows, won the Oxford Regional.
It was a memorable weekend for a lot of things. First, the three wins for Ole Miss. For a team that had already become very popular for the things they achieved, a regional win, the first in five seasons, only cemented its place in the hearts and minds of the fans.
Lots of rain
Of course who is going to forget all the rain? The delay on Monday lasted almost two hours. The rain that never came, but forced the first day to be postponed, that decision won’t be forgotten either. Weather always plays a part in baseball, but this past weekend, the rain and the subsequent delays, unfortunately, took up too much of our time.
Another positive thing that came out of the regional was the overall crowd turnout. Even without a full student body in Oxford, the crowds were amazing. Ole Miss literally broke records. To have almost 10,000 fans on a Monday, at 2 p.m.? Unbelievable. AD Ross Bjork grew even more popular with the fans for his excuse note that he circulated for employers to sign. I’m not sure how many fans actually gave it to their bosses, but it was clever to say the least.
And the respect shown from the three other schools who visited, it was tremendous. Washington’s players said they had never played in such a great atmosphere. Jacksonville State was just as energized by the crowd.
Then there were the beer showers. Home runs by Sikes Orvis and Auston Bousfield and Colby Bortles produced great pictures of the event. So did the singing of “Sweet Caroline.” In the end, the beer shower tradition continued to grow. It’s nationwide for sure now if it wasn’t before. The Huskies, the Yellow Jackets and the Gamecocks are likely still talking about them.
I also learned something about the beer showers and how they have evolved. There really is an art form to it all.
Of course they are a celebration, as Blake Cocanougher from Flat Creek, Tennessee said. They represent the love of the fans for the Rebels.
“It’s a cultural thing. People around the nation know who we are, they know about the student section here and they know it’s our tradition,” Cocanougher said Monday while waiting for the championship game between Ole Miss and Washington to begin.
For Parker Lowery of Brandon, the beer showers are something to look forward to each game.
“Even if we don’t get the W, we’re getting wet for sure. We mostly just do it for home runs, but if you win a big game, we do it for sure,” he said.
Andrew Wilkes, also of Brandon, said great plays and wins aren’t the only things that can get a beer shower.
“I’ve been to almost every game all year. For example the other day a kid got kicked out for chugging too many beers and the security guards didn’t like it so they kicked him out, so we gave him a beer shower to cheer for that,” Wilkes said. “Usually it’s after big wins and home runs and we anticipate it. The funny thing is if you look on Twitter and the internet, people all over the country will say this is a bucket list thing they want to do.”
Wilkes went on to say that because baseball is Ole Miss’ second favorite sport, the beer showers have become that much more popular.
“A lot of schools up North, their number two sport is basketball and they go crazy for that and camp out and line up for that and down here in the South, baseball is the number two sport and we go crazy for baseball. We’ll line up two hours before the game for baseball and we have crazy traditions just like northern schools do for basketball. This is our tradition down here,” Wilkes said. “It’s our big tradition down here because we all grew up playing baseball and watching it. It all just culminates into a fun weekend. It’s like a social event. You see all your friends out here. It’s totally different than any other sporting event.”
Griffin Hall of Silver Spring, Maryland, agreed with Wilkes, who was just a couple of seats down in right field.
“It’s like a Hotty Toddy. It’s just another part of the game. It’s a tradition at this point. Just like at Duke, they’re the Cameron Crazies and they wave their hands at the players on the inbounds, we have beer showers out in right field. We’re the Swayze Crazies,” Hall said.
So how does one perform a beer shower properly? The Swayze Crazies have the answers.
“I usually throw my whole cup up but I like it when I get halfway so that I don’t feel like I’m wasting my whole beer,” Cocanougher said. “When you just pour a beer, that’s the worst time. If you know Sikes Orvis is coming up, you’re going to start drinking faster. And if you see a home run coming, you got to start chugging. The whole key is to waste as little as possible.”
“There is an art in how you hold your cup,” Lowery added. “If you hold it up high and just throw, it tends to go every which way. If you hold low, it goes straight up. You see people all the time grab their cups and throw it backwards and hit people behind them.”
There is no water used in a celebration, ever.
“The only water out here is the melted ice in the cooler,” Wilkes added. “The biggest rookie move is when you see someone totally lose their cup. If you lose your cup and you run out of cups, then you can’t drink because they don’t allow out of the can. There definitely is an art to it. You don’t want to do it in your face or in your friend’s face.”
There are times of the year where the beer shower isn’t as popular.
“On a day like today, when it’s hot, I really enjoy a beer shower,” Lowery said. “Early in the season in February and March, it’s a little rough getting wet when you’re out here in 30- and 40-degree weather.”
What the beer shower all comes down to is respect. It’s a love affair for the Rebels and one of the main ways the fans can pump up the team in a sport that has a decent amount of slow points.
“Whenever Sikes Orvis hit that home run the other day, he talked about the beer showers in the interview. It’s a big momentum shifter,” Lowery said. “It’s a lot of energy and hype that goes into the team. It’s intimidating to the other team and energizing to the Rebels.”
Beer showers and regional baseball, the two go hand in hand in Oxford and at Ole Miss.
John Davis is the Oxford Citizen sports editor.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter at @oxfordcitizenjd.