Let me start by acknowledging Warren Morris‘ walk-off homer to win the 1996 College World Series championship game for LSU was likely the most spectacular moment at Rosenblatt. With all due respect, I contend that most electrifying moment is described below. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the moment described below was, for me, the most spectacular AND electrifying moment in sports I have personally witnessed – in person or on TV.
The hole in one, the seventy-yard field goal, the grand slam. There are few athletic feats as rare and hard to attain as these. Players dream about them. Fans long for them. They happen, but so rarely that when they do we, the sports community, never let them be forgotten.
And so, what first baseman Matt Curry and his team of TCU Horned Frogs did at Rosenblatt Stadium on Wednesday night, June 23, 2010, will be remembered forever. A legendary moment at Omaha’s legendary diamond on the hill.
Two outs into the top of the eighth inning, TCU found themselves in a spot not unfamiliar to them: down by three runs in a do or die situation against an opponent (Florida State) far superior in baseball tradition and experience. Indeed, it was by winning a game of this magnitude that the Frogs advanced to the final College World Series to be played at this fabled field of dreams.
We’ll always remember how Curry’s moment in history was set up by Jason Coats. Down by three in the top of the eighth, two on, two outs, tying run at the plate, full count. Next pitch by Florida State’s Mike McGee missed the strike zone. Ball four, bases loaded.
Up to the plate walks Curry, his moment in College World Series history just a few cuts away. With all hopes of staying in the tournament riding on one pitch, Curry faced the same two outs, full-count situation as Coats. Everyone in attendance was on their feet, save a few FSU fans, cheering with all their might. The buzz was electric. The delivery, the swing, the contact, the feeling, the roar. It all happened just like that!
Curry knew it was outta here. Few others did. Frogs Coach Schlossnagle’s stomach dropped when he saw Florida State outfielder Tyler Holt camped out underneath the ball in center field. Holt later told Curry he didn’t even know where the ball was. He lost it in the twilight.
The camera saw it. That is until it left not just the field, but the entire stadium. The ball sliced right through the small gap between the right field bleachers and the center field concession stand roof. Who retrieved perhaps the greatest home run ball to ever fly out of Rosenblatt we thought we would never know.
The Frogs went on to tack on a few more runs and send Florida State home without a championship once again. This happy ending (for TCU) gets even happier. A few days later, the person who retrieved Matt Curry’s magical homerun ball showed up at the Omaha hotel hosting TCU to return the keepsake to Matt.