BATON ROUGE, La. — As players solemnly and silently filed off the bus Wednesday afternoon, it was clear that the LSU baseball team did not return to Alex Box Stadium the way the Tigers had intended.
But even though the disappointment of the national championship loss to Florida had not worn off yet for the team, LSU fans were still there to lend their support for their homecoming.
Several dozen fans were waiting for their beloved Tigers as they returned from their two-week journey at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Still reason to celebrate
For many, the narrative about LSU fans was written Tuesday night as hundreds filed for the TD Ameritrade Park exits as Florida finished things off during a four-run eighth inning rally to extend its lead to 6-1.
But it was a much different story at LSU’s actual home ballpark the following day. Most who gathered to await the team were standing in the Alex Box parking lot for more than an hour before the Tigers bus arrived.
One bearded fan declined to give his name to SEC Country for the most practical of reasons.
“I’m supposed to be at work right now,” he said with a grin.
Another drove an hour from Lafayette just because he felt the obligation.
“I would have been here had they won it, of course,” he said. “But I think it’s more important for me to be here now. Just so they know much we appreciate them.”
The Tigers showed it back. Probably half of the fans greeting the Tigers were kids getting a chance to get as close as they ever have to their heroes.
For the kids, it didn’t matter that Kramer Robertson’s personal College World Series story was one of struggle. He was the conquering hero in their eyes.
Still king of his castle. pic.twitter.com/q4lsytE0go
— Alex Hickey (@bigahickey) June 28, 2017
Robertson has played his last game as a Tiger. For those kids, the search for a new hero is on. And it’s going pretty well.
“There’s Zach Watson, go talk to him,” one knowledgable mom told her son. “He’s a good hitter.”
In a moment symbolic of how LSU’s whole trip home must have felt, Watson’s truck didn’t start after sitting in a parking lot for two weeks. But as is so often the case in baseball, a teammate picked him up — in this case Beau Jordan with a pair of jumper cables instead of a bat. The setback became a triumph.
Like Watson’s truck battery, the 2017 season is officially dead now. But before you know it, the 2018 Tigers will be revving up and moving forward again.