By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
OMAHA, Neb. – Joe Dier has been to eight of the nine College World Series the Mississippi State Bulldogs have played in. The school’s longtime sports information assistant has a good excuse for the one he missed.
“I wasn’t here for the first one in 1971,” said Dier, who’s worked with MSU athletics since 1978. “I was a senior in high school and living in Alaska.”
Dier even made a trip to the CWS in 2010 when the Bulldogs weren’t here. It was the final year the tournament was played at historic Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium.
“Call me sentimental,” he said. “My wife and I drove up for the last College World Series at the old stadium. We sat in the stands and watched South Carolina win the first of its back-to-back championships.”
On this his eighth official visit to Nebraska, Dier’s CWS home is the pressbox at TD Ameritrade Park, where the Bulldogs are playing UCLA in a best-of-three national title series.
This trip has a chance to be really special for Dier and the program – one that has brought us an expansive Dudy Noble Field, grilling in the Left Field Lounge, fan-packed NCAA regionals, and of course, Clark, Palmiero and Polk.
“We showed you could run a baseball program and not lose money,” Dier said. “The Will Clark era solidified Mississippi State’s claim as a national power. They attracted the big crowds and forced the stadium expansion revolution in the SEC.”
SEC rival LSU has since become the league’s powerbroker with its 16 CWS showings, including this season, and six national titles – the last in 2009.
A national championship for MSU would be the crowning achievement for a college baseball program regarded by many as the bell cow in the Southeast for the sport.
A national championship “would be huge, huge for the baseball program, huge for the athletics department. Mississippi State is knocking on the door,” Dier said. “Win or lose, this team has already earned a place in MSU baseball history.”
A win would easily rank this trip No. 1 in Dier’s book.