“Hello Rebel Nation. You are National Champions!”
Thousands of Ole Miss fans gathered at Swayze Field to celebrate the Ole Miss Baseball team’s first NCAA College World Series title on Wednesday. The team won the championship on June 26, after a two-game sweep against Oklahoma.
“You will forever be the first team in Ole Miss Baseball history to win the National Championship, and that’s a legacy nobody gets to make the claim to except you,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said.
Thousands of fans traveled to Omaha, Neb., to watch the Rebels play in the eight-team tournament, and ultimately win, the national championship. But it wasn’t just the Ole Miss Baseball team that left Omaha as champions.
“Thanks to you, we all left as champions. I want you to know, your names, your performance, your belief, and your faith will forever be etched in the memories of all of us who witnessed your greatness,” Boyce said. “You earned the right to forever be a champion, and the rest of us can’t thank you enough for taking us on the journey with you.”
In addition to the team and Ole Miss fans, former coaches and players, Gov. Tate Reeves and Mayor Robyn Tannehill were also in attendance.
During the ceremony, Reeves proclaimed June 29, 2022, as the 2022 National Champion Ole Miss Rebel Baseball Day.
Keith Carter, vice chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics, also confirmed that there will be a statue of Tim Elko, the team’s current captain.
“Hold the trophy straight up. Now, hold it to the side. Now, the other side,” Carter said to Elko. “So, which one of those looks the best for the statue? We’re going to make it happen.”
Tannehill referred to this moment as surreal.
“I cannot put into words the feeling that we all had standing in Omaha watching you guys win that final game. You gave us such an amazing gift,” Tannehill said. “This is the stuff legends are made of, and you guys will be legends for the rest of your lives.”
One sentiment was shared amongst all players and coaches of the Ole Miss baseball team: This victory wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Rebel Nation.
“This has always been a lifelong dream for me, and obviously the players,” Head Coach Mike Bianco said. “I knew you’d show up to Swayze Field, this is a special place. I never thought that this would mean so much to you. I never thought that I’d see so much passion and so many people that care. It meant so much to us, so we applaud you.”
Bianco, referring to the Walk of Champions Welcome Back event the previous Monday, admitted he was nervous when he found out the event would take place. He was worried that not enough people would show up in the Grove for the team’s arrival from Omaha, referring to it as a “bad marketing deal.”
“We get to the Walk of Champions. I was wrong. I don’t know what happened to Rebel Nation, but you guys multiplied over the last week,” Bianco said.
According to Bianco, Ole Miss fans “showed up, and you showed up big.”
The team’s journey to the championship was a ”crazy” one according to Elko, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Ole Miss fans.
“I tried to warn the country, don’t let the Rebs get hot,” Elko said. “But I don’t know, I think they let the Rebs get hot baby!”
For a team that was 7-14 in Southeastern Conference play at one point in the season, making it to the national championship – and winning – seemed like an impossible feat. The Ole Miss Baseball team reminded people all over the country that it’s not over until it’s over.
“We had run uphill for so long, but once it was zero-to-zero again and it was flat ground, the Rebs took off,” Bianco said. “As Tim said, the Rebs got hot.”