OMAHA, NEB.: For at least 10 years, attending the College World Series has been on David G. Edmonds’ bucket list.
But when Edmonds, 77, learned his son Dave and girlfriend Martha Herron were headed to Omaha this year no matter who made the eight-team field, the elder Edmonds refused to go.
“He totally told us no,” Herron said.
“Until he knew Kent was going to play,” chimed in Dave Edmonds.
Participating in their first College World Series, the Golden Flashes (46-18) take on Arkansas (44-20) at 5 p.m. today in TD Ameritrade Park (ESPN). The double-elimination tournament could run through June 26.
A Missouri native who has lived in Aurora since 1971, David Edmonds hoped to see the College World Series before the closing of Rosenblatt Stadium in 2010. Opened in 1948, it is scheduled to be demolished the first week of July.
“I never dreamed I’d get to see Kent State here,” David Edmonds said. “I really wanted to get to Rosenblatt and didn’t make it. That was a bucket-list event I just needed to do. We’re just happy to be here.”
Dave Edmonds played third base for the Golden Flashes from 1976-80. Reconnecting with the program a couple years ago, FedEx’s senior vice president of worldwide and corporate services attended the Mid-American Conference Tournament in Avon, Ohio, and the NCAA regional in Gary, Ind. Residents of Memphis, Tenn., Dave Edmonds and Herron usually travel by motorcoach.
“We’ve been following these kids since some of their first games down in Tennessee,” Dave Edmonds said.
“We know the kids, we know the families and we’ve really bonded with them,” Herron said. “One of the ironies of this is I’m totally into Kent, and I graduated from Arkansas. But I’m a Golden Flash this week.”
As they left KSU’s hotel and set out to explore, David Edmonds wasn’t sure what will be next on his bucket list.
“Australia maybe,” he said.
Reliving the past
Before their workout Friday, KSU coach Scott Stricklin took the Golden Flashes to Rosenblatt Stadium, which opened in 1948. The home of the College World Series from 1950-2010, it will be demolished the first week of July.
“It’s pretty crazy how it’s worn down like this after not being played here for two years,” said closer Casey Wilson, an Archbishop Hoban product. “It’s pretty cool, I can feel the history on the field just standing here. This is definitely something I wanted to see while we were here.”
Stricklin and pitching coach Mike Birkbeck bought a souvenir engraved brick. Stricklin went to the CWS with Georgia Tech in 2002. Birkbeck hit the last home run of his professional career in Rosenblatt Stadium with the Class AAA Denver Zephyrs in 1990.
Caden Chaney, 4, of Gainesville, Fla., played catch with KSU players during their visit.
“It still gives you chills when you see the red and the yellow and the blue, the way the grandstand is,” Stricklin said. “It’s the most unique place you’ve ever seen. I thought we’d be out there by ourselves. There were a few hundred people out there.
“It’s a lot smaller than you remember. The kids said they wanted to do it, but once we got there I think they were really excited we were there.”
Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open golf champion and former Kent State All-American, is scheduled to arrive in Omaha tonight. Browns receiver Josh Cribbs did not ride the bus he chartered, but plans to fly in today. … KSU was the only school of the eight qualifiers to sell its allotment of 700 tickets for its first game. At tonight’s alumni function, 375 have committed. … To get over their awe of TD Ameritrade Park, Stricklin took the Golden Flashes there to look around Wednesday. They practiced in the 24,500-seat venue Thursday and attended Friday’s games. … Stricklin stopped talking to three local media members to direct a lady with a walker and her friend to the hotel elevator, even holding the door for them.
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