College sports are certainly not immune. Just the names of Cecil Collins and Ryan Perrilloux invoke images of athletes who despite tremendous athletic ability showed horrible off the field judgment.
That is why as a sports fan when you see a good heart warming story it jumps off the page at you, despite the fact that often you have to scour the back pages for it.
A 23-game win streak was certainly impressive. Twenty eight come from behind victories and a College World Series appearance makes great story lines. To me, though, the most impressive story for this year’s Tiger team comes off the field.
I found it on page four of the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. It was a short story that spoke volumes.
The headline read “LSU Baseball Players Help Out Bereaved Fan.” The essence of the story is that Curt McCarty was a 55 year-old Tiger fan who passed away shortly after the Tigers had defeated UC Irvine to earn their trip to Omaha. McCarty died outside of Alex Box stadium Sunday after watching his beloved Tigers.
Buzzy Haydel and the rest of the Tiger Baseball team were moved by McCarty’s 17 year-old son Logan. Logan said it had been his fathers dream to take him to Omaha to watch the Tigers play in the College World Series.
Some athletes might have sent a card or perhaps a ball or jersey signed by the team to the family. This would have been a nice gesture.
However, Haydel and the LSU team had something much different in mind.
In an act of pure selflessness they volunteered to give up their meal money to help pay for the young man’s trip to Omaha.
Think about that. Eighteen to twenty one year-old young men fulfilling their dream of getting to Omaha offering to give a young fan what little money they had to help him follow them.
These are kids who are not on full scholarships. Unlike their football and basketball counter parts baseball has fewer than 12 scholarships to divide among the entire 25 man roster. Many are fortunate to have a 1/3 of a scholarship and several little or no aid. They cannot work part-time jobs during the season. They have to rely on student loans, TOPS and, of course, their parents.
The most interesting part of this to me is the fact that these kids did not have a relationship with the family already. This was a case of pure selflessness in an era and time dominated by selfishness.
As it turns out the gesture the players so generously offered was covered by others who stepped up undoubtedly moved by the heart of these young men. LSU sports properties through Delta proved the air travel. The Tiger Athletic Foundation provided tickets. WAFB TV provided the room at the team hotel and Enterprise of Baton Rouge is providing the rental car.
I was in the middle of writing an article about this team in which I argued that this team’s biggest asset is how clutch it has been by coming through time after time when it mattered the most. I thought that the word clutch best described this team. I was wrong.
When I think of the huge comeback wins and the way this team has played I cannot help but think of one word now--Heart.
This team has shown it has a huge heart on the diamond and without a doubt off of it.
Thank you to these kids for reminding us that there are still some great people involved in sports and also to Jeremy Harper who wrote the excellent article and pointed this story out.