Well, Saturday was Senior Day at Dudy Noble. That means I'm done getting ten free cokes a day and watching every baseball game from the field/best seat in the stadium. I won't ever be quite as popular in Left Field Lounge, and won't have any reason to venture into the Baseball Office uninvited.
I probably would have been a lot more emotional if we had a decent season this year but it was still uncomfortably bittersweet. It's going to be a strange feeling next spring when every weekend isn't already planned out for me, when I can sleep in on Saturday morning, and go to church on Sundays. I'm slowly coming to the realization that all those nice free trips just ended... hmm. As much as I have probably complained about it over the past 3 years though, it has been such a wonderful experience. As goofy as it may sound, handing out programs before a game was probably my favorite part of the whole job. Seeing the same excitement in an 80 year old that has been to every home game for the past 50 years, as a 6 year old who is coming in to their first game is a pretty good feeling. I have gotten to travel to every SEC school except Kentucky and Florida, got an (almost) free trip to Hawaii, and have gotten to know so many great people that I would have never met otherwise. I got closer to my friends, made some new ones, and grew to love Mr. Berryhill like he was my own grandfather. The loyalty of those baseball fans blows my mind every time I step foot in that stadium. I can only hope that one day I will still be dragging my grandchildren around Dudy Noble to show them to all my friends from "back when I was at MSU." It is by far one of the best things I have been involved with at Mississippi State and I'm going to miss it like crazy. I wouldn't trade all of those hours of sitting around watching batting practice or stuffing programs for anything in the world. That's pretty hard for a lot of people to understand--and I get that-- but I definitely don't have the words to explain it.
"The older I become, the more I find myself drawn back to Dudy Noble. There are many reasons. It's great baseball played by very talented kids. The game is pure and uncorrupted by money. The place is filled with memories, both of my college days and of the great games and moments since then. It's a wonderful place to unwind. The mood is festive. Time is meaningless. The game is played without a clock. There are no telephones in Left Field. Deadlines are more distant. Appointments seem insignificant. Regardless of wins or losses, I always feel better when I leave Dudy Noble than when I arrive. There are few places of which this can be said." John Grisham