Fresh off losing three in Tuscaloosa, the 2014 Rebels returned to Swayze to host a mediocre Auburn squad. At 4-5 in SEC play, it was crucial that they win the series to get the season back on track. Austin Anderson started it off by winning the first game with a bizarre intentional walk-walk off homerun in the 13th inning, then the Rebs won a doubleheader on Saturday to get the sweep.
In regards to the Austin Anderson's homerun, "bizarre" barely describes what actually happened. Everyone has seen the video of the kinda-sorta intentional walk that led to a walk-off homerun. Hell, it's one of the coolest things I've ever seen live at a baseball game. Rebel baseball fans will remember that one for a while. However, most people don't know the story of the events after that ball left the yard.
This is that ball's story...
Each home weekend, several thousand of my friends and I fill the terraces in Right Field to cheer on the Rebs. We drink lots of beer while we're there. Hell, we might even bring some sandwiches or some ribs from the gas station. And snacks. Oh and crawfish (MR BJORK IF YOU ARE READING THIS PLEASE CONSIDER PUTTING A CRAWFISH STAND IN RIGHT FIELD IT WOULD MAKE A KILLING AND I'LL LOVE YOU FOREVER KTHXBAI). All of these things produce quite amount of waste. So, the university has workers that clean the terrace each day. The waste is thrown into commercial-sized dumpsters that sit just behind the fences, just out of sight for TV viewers and grandstand fans.
It was a Friday night Chris Ellis match up. Auburn had the lead the entire game until the Rebs scored 3 in the 8th to tie it at 5 runs apiece. Throughout the next few innings, we had runners in scoring position but couldn't plate the winning run. The game dragged on until the 13th inning. I mean it really DRAGGED...and to make matters worse, I had friends texting me, "BRO COME TO THE SQURARE LTS GeT WAsted." Most of the students had already left Swayze headed out on the town.
At the time, our bullpen was relatively unproven, and #WHISKEYANDMEAT wasn't even a thing yet. The Rebs had been kinda up and down through the SEC slate (lost 2 to SCAR, swept Mizzou, got swept by AL). However, they had been clutch through the non-con schedule to the point that they spawned the hashtag #CardiacRebs. I was on the edge of my seat. I had no clue I was about to witness a defining moment of the 2014 season.
Then it happened. Braxton Lee and Boz got on base with no outs. Anderson was coming to the plate, and everyone knew the intentional walk was coming. I don't know exactly what occured, but the pitcher, in the midst of an intentional walk, threw an absolute meat pitch that Austin turned into a no-doubter over the Right Field wall.
Beer showers ensued.
Once I ran out of beer to throw, I decided to look for the ball. It had cleared the fence almost right in front of me, and I heard it hit something. I enlisted the help of the security guard that was patrolling the fence. He grinned at me as he pointed at the dumpster. "Fuck that ball," I thought to myself as I walked away.
... but curiosity got the best of me.
"Mr. Security Officer Sir, do you mind if I try to get that ball?" I asked as soberly as possible. "Go ahead son," he answered, "If you wanna jump in a pile of shit for a baseball, I won't stop you." That was the moment a drunk RFhater dove into the dumpster and got that damned ball. I even have pictures to prove it (courtesy of @HatersLLC).
The walk-off win was the turning point in the season that saw the Rebs win or sweep 5 of the next 6 SEC series--and that ball was the catalyst. As fate would have it, the Rebs finally made it to Omaha.
After the season was over, I found myself reflecting on that moment from that night--the moment I threw my dignity aside and retrieved a piece of Ole Miss athletic history from the muck and mire of a dumpster. I decided it should be a permanent conversation piece in my memorabilia collection. I had it mounted it...with a fitting nickname, of course.
Now I only need a lock of Bo Wallace's hair and Sikes' mustache to complete my collection.
Follow all of the Right Field shenanigans in real time on the Twittersphere @RFhater.