Former LSU player reminisces on Tigers' first trip to College World Series
BATON ROUGE - Sports bars all around the Baton Rouge area were crowded as fans eagerly awaited LSU's first College World Series match-up Saturday.
“It’s crazy to see it all evolve," Michael Papajohn said.
While he’s not physically in Omaha, Papajohn can’t help but feel nostalgic and a bit nervous waiting for the game to come on the screens all over Walk-Ons.
“I love LSU baseball, I actually was on the very first LSU team to go to the College World Series in 1986," Papajohn said.
The now retired ball player may have been out of the game for three decades, but he will never forget the feeling of being the first to go up to bat in that 1986 College World Series game. He knows first-hand what the current players may be feeling as fans near and far watch on.
“The pressure you have in a big game like that, you want to come through for the LSU fans, you want to come through for your team and you want to come through for your hometown,” Papajohn said.
The pressure is especially on for the four LSU players who turned down professional contracts just a season ago to pursue one more shot at bringing a National Championship home to Baton Rouge.
“That's actually what we did in 1986 when it was our first trip," Papajohn recalled. "But I saw the players that came back and the leadership they have, and honestly they are a key reason LSU is in the position they are today.”
According to Papajohn, that connection and bond between the LSU players, coaches, and fans, is something shared between all.
“There’s a pride in wearing that uniform, and whether you're playing for Skip Bertman or Paul Mainieri, they're running out on that field and they're bleeding purple and gold,” Papajohn said.
Even after all those years, Papajohn said the team pride LSU players feel is something that withstands the test of time, and that will always remain. However, he will say this: The 2017 LSU Baseball Team not only plays like winners, but walks like winners too.
"The purple and gold, they take that field from a different place now. They walk on the field like big leaguers, and that makes my heart feel good,” Papajohn said.
Florida State took an early lead, but the Tigers came roaring back in the eighth to take the 5-4 victory, walking off the diamond winners in Saturday's game. You can expect to see fans packing the bars again when LSU takes on Oregon Monday.