April 10, 2003
As we prepare for our flight today for the three game series against Campbell, I find my mind drifting back to the many memories of Buies Creek, North Carolina.
Since we are facing bad weather, and the possibility of being stuck there until Monday, our first trip comes to mind. It was 1995, and we were rained out on Saturday, after winning the doubleheader on Friday. Because of Campbell's religious affiliation, they cannot play on Sunday, so they housed us in an old campus firehouse. The problem was it was in February and it was about thirty, wet degrees. The downstairs had a big tv room with couches. That's where the coaches and Katrina McCormack all slept. The team was upstairs in bunk beds; a wild, cold, night for FAU. Monday dawned sunny and cold as we sent Kenny Wagner to the mound. Wags had a great day throwing so hard, the Campbell coach described it as "ludicrous speed". There was one scout who braved the weather...a local guy from the Indians. He saw a great performance from Kenny and the Indians wound up drafting him that year.
The next year we returned on a much warmer weekend. It was the first round of the conference playoffs. At that time we were in divisions, and had to travel to play Campbell because they finished higher in the East than we did in the South. We were coming off a close loss the previous night at Miami, which included a near fight among teammates during the game, and a bus fight between two other players as we stopped for food. Then we had a player stealing a jug of Gatorade as we arrived at the field at Campbell. It was about 104 degrees that weekend. I remember the Campbell players using a garden hose with no water pressure to wet down the field. Scott Murphy walked out with a paper cup and started sprinkling water by hand. Scott was more effective than the hose. We won a good ballgame and returned the next day trying to sweep. The umpires warned me at home plate that there were complaints to the University President of bad language from the FAU players. What? Nick Presto, Brent White, Tony Von Doltren?
Tony V pitched a complete game gem and we headed back to the hotel pool to cool off and await the next day's flight home.
I was relaxing in my room reading. Outside you could hear our guys clowning around in the pool. RRRIIINNGG. The manager was on the phone telling me that one of my players was on the balcony overlooking the pool...and he wasn't exactly dressed! I knew just which room to go to. I pounded on the door and eventually a wet from the shower Tony V opened and said Hi coach! He ran around that motel in the heat of the afternoon until we went to dinner later. Tony missed that meal.
In 1999 we were on a win streak, but not many of us were aware of it until some reporters showed up at practice and told us we could set a new record for Florida schools if we swept Campbell. We had to come from behind late, but Dickie Hart and Gabe Somarriba (a freshman) got some clutch hits and the record was ours!
We lost a tough one on a Friday night in 2001, when our right fielder slipped and fell coming in for a catch in the ninth, for mental health purposes, he shall remain nameless. Then Jim Cooney nearly threw for the cycle the next day. He overthrew first base on a pick off, hit the center fielder in the chest on a pick at second base, and then fielded a bunt and threw it in the Campbell dugout, somewhere near third base! Throwaphobia is born!
So here we are in 2003. The weather looks cold and rainy. Sound familiar? Campbell is not having a great year, but they swept Stetson and beat Miami and East Carolina. They're no slouches. Coach Chip Smith's kids always compete and play hard. They better; Chip's a big guy.
So here we go, trying to rest Beam's knee, starting Saxton, and preparing for playing at a place with a lot of memories. Let's hope we make some good ones this weekend. KC