Schuckman: College World Series pool is about friendship more than it is baseball


The winner of the College World Series pool gets possession of the champion's cup for a full year. | Submitted photo

QUINCY — The first pitch came at noon from a pitcher I had never seen throw for a team I have never rooted for against a team I had no idea who was on their roster.

Yet, I was all-in on the University of Kentucky baseball team.

It will be the case when Arizona, UNC Wilmington, Nebraska, South Carolina, VCU, High Point and Fresno State play as well. All in, all the time until the College World Series ends. If they are all eliminated before reaching Omaha, it won’t change the excitement the CWS brings.

It will just mean another year without the cup.

Nine years ago, a group of college baseball fans who were either working at Quincy University or associated with the QU athletic department decided we should do a College World Series pool. Eight guys selecting eight teams apiece with an eye on the prize.

The idea likely was sparked during a game of spades or while eating nachos at the Abbey, but it turned out to be a home run in a variety of ways.

Not only does it keep each of us engaged in the regional play and following the NCAA Tournament to its conclusion, but as time has passed, jobs have come and gone and home addresses have changed, it’s kept the group connected.

Reading the text messages over the course of the two-day draft — it’s completed as time allows with everyone working or busy with family responsibilities — truly feels like a step back in time. Jabs thrown, jokes made, memories of Ray Ray doing Ray Ray type things.

The baseball is great, the camaraderie is better.

And then there’s the cup.

Shipped to the winner of the CWS pool who gets to hold onto it for a full year, the cup is a golden sign of triumph. Some champions have drank from it, some probably have eaten from it. Everyone wants to raise it and share the picture of them doing so with the rest of the group.

Five of the eight have been crowned CWS pool champion.

I haven’t. Not yet. In the past, I’ve been disappointed by Arkansas, let down by UCLA, bummed by LSU and left out to dry by Texas. Will this year be any different? We will find out over the next couple of weeks.

But it’s not the cup that makes this so enjoyable. Nor is it the baseball, although there is nothing better as a fan than watching America’s pastime.

It’s the connection to a great group of guys who forged a friendship and haven’t allowed life’s challenges to ruin anything that makes this a calendar event.

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