I was only 28 years-old when I shot Wichita State celebrating their national championship at the College World Series in Omaha. I was not yet an employee of the Wichita Eagle, but I was asked by the WSU athletic department to photograph the Shockers in their championship game against Texas.
It was the night before the game when I got called to see if I could shoot the game the next day in Omaha. I agreed, but since the game was at noon I knew I needed a driver so I could sleep on the way up. My wife was not interested in the trip at all, but my mother and father were up for it, so we left at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. I slept a little bit, but I was too excited about the Shox playing Texas that day to sleep much.
I am a Shocker baseball fan, but for different reasons than most fans. I learned sports photography shooting WSU in the early days of the program. The late 70’s and early 80’s is when photography became my passion and sports photography was the direction I wanted to go with my career. I was not very good, but I remember trying everything I could to get a good shot from the games. My equipment was not good enough either, but I was there almost every game trying to capture good photos from the games.
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As I get ready to head to Norman today for the WSU/OU game tonight, I can only reflect on how much fun covering WSU has been. Once I was hired by the Eagle in 1990, I made the WSU baseball beat mine. The trips to Omaha were great, but getting to know the coaches and players has even been better. I have my favorites, but I know that I would leave someone out if I named them, so I won’t.
With all of the memories I have, I just laugh when I think about my mother walking out of Rosenblatt Stadium that day after WSU won the College World Series. “Well, that was exciting and fun.” she said. “Do they get to play in this tournament each year?” That was the only college baseball game she has ever seen. She goes to all of my son and daughter’s games, but that day she picked a great day to see her only college game.
It is hard to believe that 20 years has passed since that day in Omaha. I was a kid then, I am not so much of a kid anymore but I still love this baseball beat. I am approaching the ripe old age of 50, but I hope I am still shooting this game and team when I am 70! I hope the Shox beat OU tonight, just because they have been told they probably won’t. They were told the same stuff in 1989. Wow, just saying 1989, is awesome. If you are a Shocker fan, those four numbers remind us of one thing each time we hear it. It is sort of weird, but to the Shocker faithful, there was really only one thing to remember from that year. Even mom knows what “1989″ stands for, the year the Shox won it all.