June 9, 2018 9:35:30 PM
Brett Hudson - [email protected]
NASHVILLE -- The ceremonial hanging of K banners, celebrating each strikeout for the home pitcher, takes place outside of Vanderbilt's Hawkins Field, hanging over the top level of a parking garage just outside of right field.
One level below them, Paul Davis had a Mississippi State banner draped over the same structure.
As soon as the announcement came that the Nashville Super Regional would indeed be held in Nashville, as opposed to Starkville, MSU fans set out to make the best-of-three series feel like a home game anyway. They were quick to find that tickets were both scarce relative to their demand, as Hawkins Field has a capacity of 3,626, and thus incredibly expensive, early in the week as high as several hundred dollars per seat. A select few that wanted to see the team on a budget took to the parking garage on the corner of 25th Avenue and Highland Avenue, across the intersection from the right field foul pole.
That's exactly how Davis, a Huntsville, Alabama, native, watched the first game. He had a trip planned to Michigan and wanted to stop to see the game on his way through; a Stubhub search revealed tickets as high as $300, but a friend planning on using the parking garage for Satuday's game told him about it.
Davis saw pictures and said, "This will work."
"After I saw the view, I didn't need to get the ticket," Davis said.
Jim Cole and Chad Phillips did the same thing.
Cole and Phillips have been meeting from their respective homes in Clinton and Vicksburg, respectively, for years to watch the Bulldogs this time of year: Cole's children are playing travel sports through the spring and early summer, so the postseason baseball that comes with early June is all they have available to them. They made the trip to Omaha, Nebraska, for the 2014 College World Series, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the Super Regionals last year and to Starkville for the 2013 regional, among others.
So when they knew Nashville was the destination, it was a matter of how, not if. Phillips tried the official path, buying them from Vanderbilt's website, where tickets lasted between 30 minutes and an hour; he couldn't get in touch with Cole in time to confirm the logistics, so that went out the window. The next step was Stubhub, where their search produced ticket options at $500; they immediately went searching for Plan B.
Phillips saw the chatter of the parking garage on the SixPackSpeak message board, and it all sounded perfect for them. This way, they could bring their own refreshments, pay nothing to watch the game and continue their history of watching the Bulldogs without breaking the bank, even passing up hotel rooms for a nearby campground and a tent.
"When we do these we try to have as much fun as cheap as we can. We find a place to pitch a tent and that's how we do it," Cole said.
The accommodations could be more friendly the second day. Phillips and Cole were surrounded by Vanderbilt fans on the top level of the garage Friday, but they had plans to go to the Nashville Alumni Association Chapter event for Bulldog supporters in town. Where they go from there is to be determined, but if it's back to the parking garage, they won't complain.
As Davis put it, "If we were in a pro stadium, this is where we'd be sitting."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson