Baylor is a university well known for its school spirit, traditions and pride most evident in its athletic events. While football and basketball games and even the occasional soccer match have become seminal Baylor social events, baseball games at Baylor Ballpark are gems that largely remain untouched by the student body.
While the Bear Pit and the Baylor Line provide a cauldron of support for the basketball and football teams respectively, the baseball team has had no such fortune. In fact, those of us who do go to games regularly would be hard-pressed to tell you what sections students should be sitting in.
While not a traditional powerhouse, Baylor has had its fair share of good baseball in the past. Most notably, the Bears have made it all the way to the College World Series three times, including twice in the 2000s (2002 and 2005.) Comparatively, the men’s basketball team has only made it to the Elite Eight twice in the same span of time. Most recently, the baseball team has made the postseason the last two years, including punching its ticket last season with a dramatic walk-off victory over TCU to win the Big 12 tournament championship.
After a conference championship and a second straight number two regional seed in the tournament, the Bears returned their entire starting lineup and starting pitching rotation this year. They not only brought back the conference pitcher of the year from 2018 (Cody Bradford) and five All-Big 12 selections, but also have a consensus top five draft prospect in catcher Shea Langeliers, who is poised to become the program’s highest ever draft pick this June. This type of star power and experience garnered several top 15 preseason rankings in the national polls, being slotted in as high as No. 12, and making Baylor the consensus number two team in the conference. Yet, while the national pundits have bought into Baylor baseball, it seems the university’s own students aren’t quite on board yet.
Through the first two series of the season (both at home), Baylor steamrolled Holy Cross and Cornell en route to seven straight wins, outscoring their opponents 73-18. Unfortunately for the players, however, only a few dozen students were applauding the onslaught as the first base bleachers were home to hundreds of empty seats. It begs the question: just how good does the baseball team have to be to get students to come support them?
As the weather gets warmer, there is nowhere better to be than Baylor Ballpark. Overlooking the Brazos River and with McLane Stadium in the backdrop, there are few places on campus that are more quaint or with a better view than the ballpark, and the structure of the building allows for shade and a cool breeze to come through on a hot day. Almost all of the baseball games are on the weekends as well and are early enough to not interfere with late-night plans. Friday games are usually in the early evening with Saturday games played in mid-afternoon, and the Sunday finales are typically at noon, a perfect destination right after church. Unlike the schedules of football and basketball with a slew of night games, baseball is always consistent and convenient with its game times.
Most importantly, a great student crowd at baseball games can make for new traditions and an atmosphere that can alter the outcome of the game. You need not look far to see the effects of a good college baseball atmosphere. At Blue Bell Park in College Station, Texas A&M fans have one of the most popular fan traditions in college baseball. After a pitcher throws a four-pitch walk, every succeeding ball prompts the entire crowd to chant about it until a strike is thrown. Any pitcher who has to hear “ball five” or “ball six” over and over by thousands of fans is bound to get rattled. The chant is so popular that a video of it goes viral seemingly every year and can change the way the opposing pitcher approaches the Aggies.
So, as a proud group of student fans, we need to figure out how we can make Baylor Ballpark an excruciating place to play for opponents. What will be our ball five chant like Texas A&M? What will be our beer shower after home runs like Mississippi State? What will be the song we take ownership of like Florida State’s fans have done with “O, Canada?” Whatever it may be, we must first give this team our support because you never know how far they’ll take us, or vice versa.