The Death of Red
We are gathered here today, in this a time of great sadness. As it is always painful when we lose something dear to us. It is even more so painful to lose something in the prime of life. So full of vigor, energy and emotion, it seems almost surreal when that thing is gone. That’s why we’ve come here today to not mourn the passing of a team…but to celebrate their lives.
Born in 1998, under the watchful eye of Dave Van Horn, a scrappy skipper from Central Missouri, just four years removed from a Division 2 national title...Husker baseball became the toast of the town. These scrappy student athletes played the game it was meant to be played; with hustle, vitality and youthful spirit. When reaching maturity in 2000, they took the state by storm. One year later, they closed Buck Beltzer stadium with a party never seen before, as they swept through Rice to win a birth in the College World Series.
The Huskers made the CWS three of the next four years, winning fans over from Gering to Falls City. Suddenly, folks on the porch in Milford knew who Jeff Leise and Shane Komine were. Husker fans from all corners of the globe, suddenly became transfixed on something they could myopically cling to, citing their long-standing dominance for complete and total arrogance.
However, by 2004, the team began to show signs of weakness. Van Horn bolted for greener pastures, as a career assistant took over God’s baseball program. The team struggled down the stretch, missing the post-season all together with a 36-23 final record. Things looked bleak for the Husker 9 that year.
But back again came the boys in red, roaring into the top 5 in 2005 with the grace of a buck, the speed of a cheetah, and the heart of a lion. Their dream was cut short, finishing the year at 57-15…culminating in a heartbreaking 8-7 loss to Arizona State. The game was captured the next day by the immortal words of wise Tom Shatel, by calling it, “The greatest game in the history of college baseball.”
But the last chapter of this story was certainly the most shocking and painful. Rolling into the post-season, the Huskers were rightfully pissed off with their #6 National ranking. They looked to take their first round frustrations out on some team named Manhattan, as they prepared to unleash the Power of Red on mighty Miami in round number two.
A loss to Manhattan
A loss to San Francisco.
And that’s how we got to this ceremony today. Gone are the days of four years ago, where Husker fans everywhere followed each and every pitch like it was the fourth quarter of the Orange bowl. Gone are the days where myopic douchebags from all over the state, can sport their new Stewart Bradley jersey they got for Christmas prior to the opening day of football season. Gone are the days where anybody really gives a shit.
Fast forward to the present. Players leaving. Players getting kicked off the team. Drinking. Bad play. Bad pitching. Bad hitting. A ten run enema from Notre Dame. A swift ass kicking by Iowa. A loss to Creighton. A couple of losses to Texas, Texas Tech and Missouri. And suddenly, after a long battle the fight was over.
It is always sad when the young pass on. Fans will still have their heroes and their memories…but nothing more. We gather here to pay our respects to honor a program that rose so quickly…and like a shooting star, fizzled out too soon. Many will miss this program for what it was, a shining example of what is great about college athletics: Money, bandwagon fans and a complete and total lack of knowledge of simple rules. But in the end, you will always have those memories. May the good times far outweigh the sad. May your faith carry you through your grief, as the good times drift farther and farther away.
Go gentle into the light Nebraska baseball. Thanks for the memories.
You will be missed.