So, the Tar Heels are making their fourth straight trip to Omaha for the College World Series, which is pretty damn impressive. But isn't it high time they win it?
I don't know any of the current Tar Heels, but fully expect I'll be watching Dustin Ackley and Alex White play in the big leagues soon, at which point I'll introduce myself and tell them that I once carried the water and picked up dirty jocks for the Tar Heels back in the early 80s.
But before I get that chance, I'd like to tell the 2009 Tar Heels to win it for the old gang.
For the obvious guys...
Win it for Walt Weiss, my suite mate, the slick-fielding shortstop who used to ask me to hit him ground balls at, oh, 3 a.m., if the lights were on over at "the turf." Weiss was a famous insomniac at night, maybe because he'd pound Coca Cola and pizza nightly at 1 a.m. He'd more than make up for the lack of sleep during the daytime hours...when he was supposed to be in class. Walt will not be happy for me saying this, but I'd pay money to see what his final Carolina transcript looks like as he began searching for "slides" beginning in the second semester. Gotta stay eligible.
Win it for B.J. Surhoff. To know him was to love him. To not know him? I can only imagine. We knew him by various (usually ironic) nicknames, including Mr. Laughs, Mr. Happy. My favorite line from B.J. came one night in Purdy's (a disco, I will admit it). With the music pumping, hot girls everywhere, beer flowing, BJ looked at me and said, "I'm outta here. It's way too crowded and there's nobody here." Yogi Berra could not have said it better.
Win it for Scott Bankhead. Twenty straight wins over two college seasons for Bank, but we never got to Omaha. Back in '83-84, with mullet and mustache, there was no finer collegiate pitcher.
Win it for Todd Wilkinson. Born in upstate New York, there was no more Southern dude than Wilky in Chapel Hill by the time his career was over. Cried like a baby when we won the ACC championship at Boshamer. Someone tells me they've got the newspaper photo to prove it.
Win it for Jeff Hubbard. Magnum PI 'stache, Porsche 944, a legendary Trust Fund, and that memorable semester in the spring of '84 when Hubbard -- so sure he would be drafted after a good season -- majored in baseball. I did appreciate it when "Marv" would let me drive the Porsche, to take him to Henderson Street just before we'd leave on a road trip. Marv would knock back a few beers and play Donkey Kong. It was a pre-road trip tradition.
Win it for Mike Jedziniak. Hard-hitting (on and off the field) second baseman from Toms River NJ. Jedz was Pedroia before Pedroia. Loved to scream at the hardest throwers, "Throw harder!"
Win it for Hawks, and for Boopie too.
Win it for Chris Mench. Because, it's called "Big Cheese-al" and we know who can survive. And for Tim Kirk, because he spit out the only sip of beer he ever took. Win it for Bill Robinson, because he's still the only dude I've ever met in my life who likes Circus Peanuts. Win it for Roger Williams because even when State had lit him up for about 11 runs, "Crow" was still PISSED that Coach Roberts was on his way to the mound to take him out. Win it for Ken "Butch" Turner for his ability to fart on demand and for Glenn Liacouras, for his germaphobia. Win it for Paul Will and his bowl of fries.
Win it for fellas from my brother Scott's era. For Barney Spooner and Gals. For Peanut and Roy. For Pitter and LB. For Oshe. For the late Dwight Lowry. Win it for Joe Reto.
Win it for me, because there's no way there's ever been a less-talented player who was even allowed to take batting practice or groundballs at Boshamer Stadium. Win it for my shoulder, which I blew out freshman year throwing Jon O'Leary December batting practice. Win it for me and Matt Barratta and Grafton Garnes, for folding Carolina laundry and polishing Tar Heel shoes. We had some great teams in '83-'86, and we never got to Omaha. The program is bigger and badder than it was back then, and I'm sure there are characters too...so win it for yourselves.
Me and my mates will surely raise a glass if you do.