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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The aura of ‘Olsen Magic’

Olsen+Magic
Tim Lai
Olsen Magic

For years now, Aggie baseball fans young and old have witnessed what has become known as “Olsen Magic,” an energy that can be felt at the gates.  

The beginning of this phenomenon is often attributed to the 1989 Aggie baseball team. 

Commonly referred to as one of the greatest teams in program history, the squad started the 1989 season 26-0 and finished the year 58-7, winning the Southwest Conference regular season and tournament titles along the way. The Aggies hosted their first regional in school history that season, but the season came to a halt at the hands of rival LSU in extra innings. Then-head coach Mark Johnson won the Southwest Conference Coach of the Year award that season, and he said the 1989 season was the start of the Olsen Field aura. 

“It started happening when I was coaching here in the 80s,” Johnson said. “We had a really, really good ball club, commonly known as the ’89 ball club. They were a very good offensive ball club. Just OK pitching, but we had a really good closer, but [the offense] allowed us to come from behind a lot. So, we just kept coming from behind and they just kept talking about ‘Olsen Magic’ and it started catching on … it’s kind of like the Aggie spirit, it becomes a reality. The magic becomes real to you, and you start counting on it, so it’s special.”

Then-No. 1 Texas A&M hosted its archrival, then-No. 9 Texas Longhorns, for a weekend series in April 1989. After dropping game one on Friday night, the two would play a doubleheader Saturday. The Aggies won those two games with walk-off home runs from John Byington to win the doubleheader and clinch a share of the conference crown. Johnson said it was his favorite moment.

“It was against our rival, a full house, it was an important game for a championship,” Johnson said. “[Byington] comes up two games in a row, in the same day, on national television, and goes yard. You have to say that’s the ultimate. That’s backyard stuff, but you never think about doing it in a double header.”

Current head coach Rob Childress has been at the helm of the Aggie program for 10 years, and boasts one of the best team in school history. The Aggies (37-7) are ranked fifth, and started the season perfect through 24 contests. Through each year, coach Childress has seen the magic happen within Olsen Field. He even shaped his own definition for it. 

“The definition of [Olsen Magic] is that we are never out of the game,” Childress said. “No matter what the score, no matter where we are in the game, we are always there, especially late in games. Our guys understand the feel of the 12th Man and the difference they make throughout the course of the game.”

In their 2015 campaign, the Aggies have continued to make the magic prevalent. In one of their first series of the year, the Aggies trailed Dartmouth 3-0 in the eighth inning, but a four-run eighth inning helped the Aggies earn a 4-3 victory, and keep their undefeated record in tact. Amid their 24-game winning streak, the Aggies trailed UT-Pan American 3-0 in the eighth inning. After a three-run eighth inning, the Aggies won the game in the 11th inning on a Ronnie Gideon walk-off hit. Again in April, the Aggies trailed Rice going to the seventh inning only to win the ballgame with a go-ahead hit in the eighth inning. 

“There was one game, I think it was a Tuesday night, against UTSA in my freshman year,” Nau said. “There was severe weather coming. We had a guy on first base. Tyler Naquin was at the plate, and we were down 3-2. [Naquin] got two strikes on him, and then he hit a home run into the bullpen as lightning struck right by Kyle Field. They called the game since it had been seven innings, and we got the win. As a freshman, it was pretty cool to see that.”

Longtime Texas A&M play-by-play announcer Dave South offers a different perspective of the spectrum. Since coming to Texas A&M in 1985, he has become the “Voice of Aggieland” to Aggie fans everywhere. Through all of the years, he said his favorite moment came with the 1999 ball club that went to the College World Series.

“The Clemson win in the Super Regional that sent us to Omaha, that to me was as good as it gets,” South said. “At the time, no one knew it, but they had a banner they let go over the green monster out there that said ‘Aggies in the College World Series.’ That to me would be one of the greatest moments. We won, get a strikeout, game is over, Aggies win and we go to the CWS.”

Not only has it been seen by commentators and fans alike, but the players see how much of a difference the student body makes for the team, especially late in games. Catcher Mitchell Nau said it also stems largely from the support of the students and fans.

“I think it is a belief from our fanbase,” Nau said. “They think that we are never out of a game. I don’t know how long ago it started, but that tradition has been carried over and over through the decades of baseball here, and I think it rubs off on our players. I truly believe it comes from the atmosphere the fans create, and that we create in the dugout. It’s a great feeling to have in the ninth inning to know, ‘It’s Olsen Magic time,’ so that is what it means to me.”

During the weekend series against Missouri, A&M broke the home attendance record since the Blue Bell Park renovations in 2012, and shattered the student attendance record for a game. Two weekend series, Arkansas and Missouri, are on the all-time record Olsen Field attendance list for a three-game series.

South said this spirit is unique to A&M.

“Other places we go in the sports I cover, you don’t find what we have here anywhere,” South said. “There’s no one that has anything better than this, in the sports I cover, our football, our basketball and our baseball, this student body is unbelievable. There is nothing like this anywhere in the country. No one matches what we have here at Texas A&M.”

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