The mad dash to Omaha

Aggie fans make last-minute trip to attend MCWS Championship Series
Texas A&M fans react after The Aggies win the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Sunday, June 9, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Texas A&M fans react after The Aggies win the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Sunday, June 9, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Photo by CJ Smith

After Texas A&M baseball’s win over Florida sent the Aggies to their first Men’s College World Series Championship Series in program history, junior SS Ali Camarillo couldn’t brag about the Aggie crowd during his interview with NCAA Baseball — they were still just too dang loud. 

“Game one, opening day, 12th Man is real,” Camarillo said. “And they’ve stuck from game one to [the] championship series.”

If Camarillo thinks that crowd was intense, just wait for the championship series against Tennessee — because more Aggies are on their way. 

There’s a cavalry coming. They’re clad in maroon and white, and they’re riding north to Omaha, Nebraska, by land and by air with whatever funds they can muster. 

They’re coming for one purpose — to support their Aggies one last time as they play for a national championship.

“Once [A&M] got to Omaha, we were like ‘Okay, well we’re still working and stuff, but if we make it to the championship game we’re just going to drop everything,’” telecommunication media studies sophomore Nathan Smith said. “We had already pre-decided, and said ‘We’re just going to go if we make it.’”

Mere minutes after the final out of the game against Florida, Smith and his two roommates quickly secured tickets, called off what work obligations they could get away with missing, and started planning how they would make the 825 mile drive to Omaha. 

They’ll be just one of the groups painting I-35 maroon as the sea of Aggies rushes north — and they won’t be the only students making the trip.

Agricultural economics junior Jacob Bush — better known as Banana Man — is one of the staples of Olsen Field Section 203. 

He wasn’t able to join some of his fellow Raggies, as they’re known, at the MCWS initially: It took a bet with his grandfather that the Aggies would make it to the championship series unscathed to afford the trip, and a roundabout path of travel to get to Omaha. 

But Bush is on his way — and the costume is coming too. 

“You don’t really get to experience these situations [often], or they’re a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Bush said. “If you don’t take them, if you leave them in the past, they won’t happen again. Just being a taker and just doing things, even if it’s spontaneous. The experience alone really means a lot.” 

Travel trials

Bush’s first leg is a flight to Des Moines, Iowa. Then there’s a hastily scheduled carpool with fellow Aggies the two hours from Des Moines to Omaha, and a shared rental that’s sure to bring its own share of chaos. 

“It’s spontaneous, and I just have to sit down and think about it and just plan accordingly,” Bush said. “And I know I might miss some things here and there, like ‘Hey, where am I going to eat [on] this day?’ But that’s part of the fun, doing things and not having a plan. Just jumping right into it and learning along the way.”

That’s still more of a plan than some fans have. Aggie alum and proud baseball season ticket holder Matt Pyryt booked his flight in advance just in case A&M would make a deep run — it turns out flights booked with miles are conveniently refundable if canceled early — and is winging everything else.

“The motivation was just, as big fans, how do you not at least try to get up there?” Pyryt said. “I mean if you’ve got kids or work commitments, it doesn’t work out. Obviously, that’s just the way it goes…but if you’re as big a fan as I am, why not try?”

Pyryt — who regularly makes the trip down from Dallas to catch the Aggies play at home whenever possible — says the scramble is worth it for what he describes as a bucket list moment. 

Pure joy

Indeed, the series is historical. It’ll be the first time since 1939 that an A&M team in any of the “Big 3” men’s sports — football, men’s basketball, and baseball — has played in a national championship game. 

“Buying into these players and this team, and seeing it play out so perfectly on a national stage and being like ‘Holy crap, we’re making it to the national championship.’” Smith said. “…It’s pure joy. Pure unfiltered joy to be able to have the opportunity to do this and be in the position that we’re in.”

It’s a position that the Aggies may not have found themselves in without the support of the 12th Man. Quotes like Camarillo’s after the Aggies’ latest win have been a dime a dozen this season, from players, coach Jim Schlossnagle and fans themselves.

Now Smith wants to return the favor. 

“I want them to know that the university is behind them and all the fans are behind them,” Smith said. “…Hopefully other fans follow suit, and we all can make it more of an intimidating environment for other people.”

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    DawnJun 22, 2024 at 11:31 pm

    Love that banana man!!