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Welcome Back to Baseball

Swayze Showers.jpeg

By Tate Hawkins, Student Assistant, Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back to one of the best times of the year. After a wonderful fall for Ole Miss sports it's time to grab your gloves, caps, and your lawn chairs (if you're heading to the outfield). The grass has been cut, and the dirt has been dragged, oh and 10,000 of your closest friends are going to be with you: it's baseball season in Oxford!

Baseball can only begin with one of the most memorable days of the season, Opening Day. The gates of Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field opened for it's 28th Opening Day and saw its beloved Rebels get a 9-2 win over the Florida International University Panthers. Besides the play on the field, Opening Day comes with its own special set of emotions and events. This year, Opening Day fell on February 19, marking exactly 28 years to the day that the first baseball game was played at O-U Stadium. 

Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field became the host of Ole Miss Baseball February 19 1989 when the Rebels swept a doubleheader against Cumberland University in front of a crowd of 1,016 fans who braved the bitter cold weather conditions. On that day, George H.W. Bush was President, a gallon of gas cost $1.12, Darrell Waltrip won his only Daytona 500 while racing on gas fumes, and you could get a hot dog at the ballpark for under a dollar (don't forget $1 hot dog nights during midweek games this season). For this year's opener, scenarios were a little different. The first pitch of the season was thrown on a sunny 70-degree day, and there were 3,000 students in right field to accompany the total attendance of 10,129, the largest Opening Day crowd in school history. Donald Trump's running for President, we race solo cups in the fourth inning, a gallon of gas will cost you $1.53, and a hot dog will cost you $5 (excluding Dollar Dog nights of course). Buy hey, it's still Opening Day.

However, some things are better left unchanged. David Kellum is still the voice of Ole Miss Baseball on the radio after 37 seasons and describes the event as "one of the best days of the year." He and his wife Mary spend their weekends in the ballpark broadcast booth together and "love it." The Kellums love Opening Day because it's the chance to "get back in the saddle" after a long offseason.

Junior Brady Bramlett described being the Opening Day starter as "an awesome experience, especially with the crowd today - you felt the energy as soon as you stepped on the field." Head coach Mike Bianco said he was "proud and excited" of the team's play on Opening Day due to the "heightened excitement" behind the day. That excitement can be accredited to the chance to see new talent, see the veterans show their experience, have the for Rebel greats return, and even possibly the fact that 10,000 people were in attendance. "That number's crazy," said Bianco regarding the attendance. 

Aside from all the excitement, we can be hopeful from last year. The Rebels finished last season after being eliminated from postseason play in the Regional round and hope to return to Omaha and College World Series glory just like they did in 2014. With a lot of those team members being in the junior/senior years of eligibility, and a 3-game sweep over FIU on opening weekend, the season looks bright. So clear your schedules, rally the family, order your tickets and get to Swayze a few times this season. Here's to Rebel Baseball being back, and here's to 2016.





A Special Place Called Swayze

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When you step into Oxford University Stadium/ Swayze Field you can almost immediately tell that there is something different about this place. The first time I was able to walk through the stadium was in 2003, as a student manager. For two years I came to work everyday at Swayze field. I was lucky enough to come back to Ole Miss Athletics in 2008 and see that Swayze had not only grown in popularity, but also  in size. As a manager, I remember the detail Coach Bianco always showed when it came to aspects of the program, a characteristic he still has today. Even though the field is named after legendary coach Tom Swayze I believe the case could be made that Coach Bianco is the legal guardian. As a manager you begin to meet all types of people that love Ole Miss and in particular Ole Miss baseball. I remember the first time I met the late Ernie LaBarge, founder and long-time operator of the bullpen club. His love for Ole Miss baseball was unparalleled. The things he did for the baseball program are still shining through today. As the program continues to grow, so does the luster and aura of Swayze field.

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    Jamie laverty said:

    Bulmer I love you and ole Miss

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    Sharon Hamlin said:

    Hi! Really Bulmer is very fantastic & dedicated in his job. Really outstanding & well done... :-)

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    Sharon Hamlin said:

    Hi! Really motivating post & outstanding job did Bulmer .Loved it... :-)

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    Jack1492 said:

    Great year. I am proud of you all.
    Jack

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    Hunter Comstock said:

    Strange things happen to Ole Miss football teams in games played on Halloween. I don't know if I can bear to watch this one or not.

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    Hunter Comstock said:

    Boy, I surely hope the Rebels don't have anymore nail biters like the Bama game. My nerves won't take it.

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    Joe Snaidauf said:

    Rebs stay healthy, they can win it all!!!

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    Rhonda said:

    Coach Freeze is a genuine coach and our players and fans adore him!!

    in post Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year

    Gary Vaughn said:

    It's great to be a Rebel fan. Coach Freeze
    Has brought back the excitement
    Competitiveness we all so desire. The
    fan base and even our doubters are
    Paying attention. Even the whole country
    Sport tLk shows ect. Are taking notice.
    After we upset Alabama this weekend
    38-27 we will bolt to a top 12 or better
    Ranking. Go Rebels

    in post Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year

    Tom said:

    I am not and never have been an Ole Miss fan. I am however a Coach Freeze fan. I like what he represents in today's world of big time sports and what he stands for in leading young men of today into a more responsible role. He is everything that Ole Miss has never had. I am on his band wagon winning or losing.

    in post Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year