My dad has this tattered briefcase that he keeps in a cabinet in the garage. One day I pored through it and found a bunch of old documents, including his college diploma. Ronald Reagan's signature was at the bottom because he was the governor at the time. After my dad graduated, he joined the military and served during Vietnam. When his service was over, he bought a farm equipment shop with the backing of his uncle Chet.
I really value the few stories my dad has shared about his background, and over the last few years he's given me a few odds and ends from his past. I have a wooden lamp and a chime he brought back from West Germany. On my 30th birthday he gave me a gold pocket watch that Chet had recieved on his 60th birthday in 1947...which was also the year my dad was born.
Something else that he's kind of given me is Fresno State sports. We've had season tickets to football and basketball games since 1988. I still remember the 1989 year. It encompassed the basic story of Fresno State sports for most people. Fresno State was 10-0 in football. They'd beaten teams 52-22, 52-37, 52-0, 34-7, and most recently, 45-5. They had even moved into the national polls. To wrap up the season, Frenso played a non-conference game against New Mexico. If Frenso won, they would have an undefeated record heading into a post-season bowl. New Mexico was 1-10 on the year, and 3-31 over the past 3 years, including a 68-21 loss to Fresno State the year before. But the unthinkable happened. New Mexico won 45-22. Even at 11 years old, I was absolutely sick. Fresno State would beat New Mexico for the next four years, including a 94-17 win two years later, but it didn't matter.
I remember the following year as well. Fresno State started the year 5-0, including winning 3 straight games by a combined score of 111-13. People were starting to get excited about a Frenso State team possibly going undefeated. But the following week they lost to a 2-3 Northern Illinois team 73-18!
1991 was more of the same. Fresno State was led by Trent Dilfer and won their first 7 games. In those 7 games they'd scored 55, 34, 24, 94, 42, 42, and 48 points. On the following week they lost 20-19 to a Utah State team that was 1-6! Fresno even went on to score 59, 38, and 31 points in their final 3 games and finished the regular season 10-1. But, it didn't matter. They'd lost when they weren't supposed to.
And that's not even to mention the the hype that hasn't been met with performance over their tenure with Pat Hill.
In basketball it has been more of the same. I remember watching Ron Adams guide Fresno State to their worst home record (6-9) in the history of Selland Arena...they were 10-19 overall. And thier time with Gary Colson wasn't much better (76-73 over 5 years). Back then the disappointment was each time we played Jerry Tarkanian's UNLV teams so closely before being let down in the second half. In 1988-89 UNLV was 29-8, and Fresno got my hopes up by losing their two games against UNLV by 4 and 6 points. When UNLV won the National Championship the following year, Fresno broke my heart again by losing to UNLV twice, this time by 9 and 5 points!
How about softball? How does Jamie Southern finish her career 4th in NCAA history in shutouts, 10th in strikeouts, and 10th in wins, but NEVER make it out of the regional that was held in Fresno each year she was here? I mean, every year she was here she ranked in the top 3 in in the nation in era! She threw 8 no hitters. She was a 4-time All-American, 4-time WAC pitcher of the year, 4-time All-WAC, 4-time Easton Sports All-American, and 4-time All-West Region. Her teams went 177-74...but never got through a damn regional.
So tonight was really important. Some people think my enthusiasm over Fresno State is silly. But it's just part of me. I'm glad my dad drove over to the coast to watch the game with me. That's just how it was supposed to be. I'm satisfied. Finally, a Fresno State team hasn't left me disappointed when the game was over. I know there are fair weather fans that will latch on to this an try to bask in the summer sun. But it won't be the same for them. And I know Fresno State's critics will still pick at where Frenso State falls short. But for one night they can be quiet. Fresno State won the national championship in baseball. In one month they won 10 games against top level competition. San Diego, Arizona State, Rice, North Carolina, and Georgia all had a chance to show us it was a fluke. But Fresno State showed that, at least for one month, they had the best baseball team in America.