Sunday, July 04, 2010

Go Gamecocks! Happy Fourth of July!

We're a day late and a dollar short on this news item. But I'm happy to report that the University of South Carolina's baseball Gamecocks won the national college World Series this past Tuesday in Omaha, Nebraska by whomping the powerful UCLA Bruins 2-1 in 11 innings. It's the University's first national men's championship in men's sports and was certainly a long time coming. Congrats, dudes!

Here's the champs, after their triumphant return home and victory parade this past Friday in Columbia, SC. (Double click for larger images):

Why the interest here? Although I grabbed my first two college degrees at Georgetown in DC, I taught English down at South Carolina while I was earning my doctorate, and co-founded the department's original Writing Lab (it now goes under another name). Although I experienced some of the usual professorial sturm und drang while down there, teaching and studying in Columbia, SC was an extraordinarily positive experience on balance. And the university, as well as the town, turned out to be a surprisingly tranquil and positive atmosphere for scholarly activities. Although I didn't have much money at the time, the city was an inexpensive place to live, and I still remember the graciousness of my elderly neighbors when we lived in a little duplex off the Five Points area of the city.

Sports, of course, was a big deal down there--still is, as it usually is at large state colleges. The school never copped big championships while I was there, although its basketball team did quite well at the time, even after the school left the ACC. In any event, it's nice to see a national championship finally residing at my final alma mater.

Columbia, the state capitol, BTW, is the home of the state's fabled Capitol Dome, the one that caused controversy for years by flying the Stars & Bars below the Stars & Stripes on its flag mast. The given reason, a valid one at least on the surface, was that South Carolina was where the first shots of the Civil War were fired and the rebel flag was part of the state's heritage. Black South Carolinians, for obvious reasons, weren't buying it, so the Stars & Bars were eventually retired from the mast to reside inauspiciously elsewhere I am told.

Someone just sent me a picture of the Dome this week. It's now flying the Fighting Gamecock flag, festooned with an image South Carolina's oddly-chosen mascot. (It's the bottom flag, below the US and State flags.)

Here's a closer look:

Looks good, eh? We're sure this is one additional flag that all South Carolinians can be proud of. What a great way to celebrate this 4th of July!

(Except maybe for Clemson Tigers.)

Get your championship T-shirt here.

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