BASEBALL: Gator players thankful for fan support

Senior Tommy Boss had a little extra incentive for Friday night's special performance which had nothing to do with playing in an NCAA Super Regional or beating arch-rival Florida State...

"It was even more special because I knew in the back of my mind that it was my last start here at McKethan Stadium before these great fans," said Boss, in regards to a question posed about his efforts possibly being enhanced because he was passed over in the Major League Baseball draft last week.

"It was just a very, very exciting ball game to be involved in," he continued. "I can't stress how great our crowd was tonight. It was the loudest I'd ever heard it, and they were definitely behind me the whole way out there."

As Boss spoke, Pat McMahon smiled and nodded in approval. It seemed evident that Coach Mac got a little choked up momentarily at Boss' comments. The Florida skipper does not disguise emotion for his players. He also works very hard to make it known that he appreciates the efforts of the fans.

The Florida players have been telling Gator Country for weeks in post game interviews how much they appreciate the support and how much they need it. The fact that so many showed up and were so very vocal wasn't lost on the Florida State Seminoles either.

"You can't say enough about them tonight, Florida State starter Bryan Henry said. "Their energy level was high and their fans were terrific for them."

Just as they did last weekend, the Gators sent a thank you to the Florida fans. Fellow senior Jeff Corsaletti sent a message as he waved his arms to the fans and tipped his hat to the 5,250 fans who had filled McKethan Stadium. It marked the largest post season crowd to ever see the Gators at home. Many other Florida players also looked into the packed stands smiling and gesturing their many thanks.

Nobody is saying that this series is over by any stretch of the imagination. I'm merely pointing out what the players and Coach McMahon have tried to convey the past many weeks. Besides, tomorrow night might be the last opportunity to catch the Gators play in the state of Florida this season.

Two of the most unusual things that I witnessed were fans holding up fingers in the parking lot looking for a ticket. Baseball ticket scalpers? I really think that you'd have to go back to the days of Wilkerson, Fogg, and Nicholson to relive those experiences. Furthermore, fans living in a house off 2nd Street painted a bed sheet that served as a Gator banner and hung it between two trees. "A lot of momentum came to us when we stepped on the ball field. The fans were awesome," said third baseman Brandon McArthur.

One rather popular Florida baseball fan and his family departed McKethan Stadium with obvious enthusiasm. Florida football Coach Urban Meyer and his family exited the box via the elevator at the same time I was going down to attend the post game media press conference.

As Meyer boarded the elevator, he shook my hand with a smile and said, "Great game wasn't it?" He then looked over at the other reporters and said, "The good guys won. All of you ARE for the good guys aren't you?" Meyer hugged and kissed one of his daughters while his wife Shelley and the rest of the family basked in the Florida victory, laughing and smiling. The entire family was obviously very exited for Coach McMahon, the players, and the University of Florida fans. The family has attended several Florida games, including each of the games in last weekend's Regional.

It simply doesn't matter who you are -- people are getting behind Florida baseball and the players within the program are showing their appreciation.

Fightin Gators Top Stories