College World Series is back! Opening Day a home run with fans
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - After a pandemic hiatus and a year scaled back, the College World Series was getting back to its best self in downtown Omaha on Thursday.
Opening day let fans get back to their favorite CWS activities before the men’s college baseball tournament gets underway at the newly branded Charles Schwab Field Omaha.
Fan Fest is back. Baseball Village and the food court are back, bigger and better than ever.
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, this year’s Fan Fest features games for all ages, including a home-run derby, lacrosse, and even basketball.
At the food court, there are picnic tables this year and a new way to purchase drinks at the Old Mattress Factory, where they’re testing out a pilot program allowing card purchases — the rest of the tents are still cash-only. Organizers reminded fans that there are ATMs available throughout Baseball Village.
Thursday night, ahead of Opening Ceremonies, fans will be treated to a special screening of “Field of Dreams” at Charles Schwab Field Omaha.
CWS also experienced its first rain delay: Showers put practices on hold for a bit Thursday afternoon and sent fans dodging under tents.
While fans were enjoying the fun of Opening Day, a handful of grounds crew members were hunkered down in a storage room in the underbelly of the ballpark, taking the shine off 175 boxes of new baseballs. With 12 baseballs in each box, that’s 2,100 baseballs.
They use mud — made from a secret “recipe” — to give the baseballs their grip. There’s also a special technique used on each ball.
“It’s Lena Blackburn Baseball Mud Co. — it started in the 1930s,” said Chad Tolliver with the NCAA. “The spot is secret, so no one steals where the mud comes from. It’s off a tributary of the Delaware River in southern New Jersey.”
As the story goes, the inventor played baseball himself and got tired of umpires and pitchers complaining about the game baseballs.
“He had a fishing spot, and then he took some mud and used it. It worked,” Tolliver said.
So if you catch a foul ball, you’ve got some New Jersey mud to go with it.
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