MINNEAOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a big weekend for the Gophers baseball team, hosting a home regional in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the year 2000.
The Gophers play Canisius Friday at 7 p.m. Minnesota’s hosting history is brief — this will be only its third time.
But as WCCO’s David McCoy tells us, they were memorable. Just ask the man who’s been there for them all.
The last time Minnesota hosted a home regional, most of the current team was barely out of diapers. But coach John Anderson was there — with darker hair — and remembers it well, 18 years later.
“I know the place was taken over by the Huskers, the Big Red. They brought a lot of fans, and it kind of felt like they took over the place. And I’m glad this year, I heard just now, the place has been sold out, for Friday night, and the nice part of it is, I think the three teams that came here aren’t gonna travel like the Huskers did,” Anderson said.
The first and only other time Minnesota hosted a regional was in 1977. A young man named Paul Molitor was a junior, John Anderson was a student coach and the Gophers made it all the way to the College World Series.
“’77, wow. That was an awesome experience. The old Siebert Field, there’s pictures of it. And it was electric. The stands were absolutely packed, they actually had roped off areas down the first and third base line, had people actually standing on the field in roped off areas, it was absolutely electric. And I told the kids, this is going to be electric,” Anderson said.
Time to make their own memories. And Anderson believes they can. He’d know, after all. And he says this team is hotter heading into a regional than any team he’s ever had.
“Maybe that’ll come true again,” Anderson said.