Madison resident, a former Bulldog baseball player, reacts to MSU's win
Mississippi State baseball alum Brooks Bryan of Madison played in two of Mississippi State’s 12 World Series appearances and he was on hand to see the Bulldog's claim the team's first College World Series championship last month.
Bryan was one of the 20,000 MSU fans in Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, Wednesday night when State beat Vanderbilt 9-0 in game three of the series. The Bulldogs lost the first game of the series to Vanderbilt 8-2 but came back to win game two 13-2 and game three 9-0.
Mississippi State finished the season with a 50-18 win record.
“I saw 10 or 12 ex-teammates there, and we all said the same thing,” Bryan said. “This exercised a lot of demons that have been around for a long time. So many times, we had so many chances and opportunities. It is so hard to get there, much less win it all. Last night, it was a culmination of a long time coming.”
Mississippi State has gone to the World Series in 1971, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1990, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2013, 2018, 2019 and 2021. The Bulldogs were the runner-up in 2013.
“A lot of people don’t understand how hard it is to get to Omaha,” Bryan said. “Some people compare getting to Omaha like getting to the Sweet 16 in basketball but it is more than that. It’s like getting to the Final Four.
“It is so hard to do. You have to be playing well and you have to be hot and get some breaks along the way,” Bryan said. “This team is the grittiest, gutsiest team I have ever watched at State. It is a microcosm of what Mississippi State is all about. It’s a blue-collar university, a blue-collar athletic program. Nothing is ever given to Mississippi State. You have to work to get everything and nothing is ever easy.”
Bryan, who grew up in Philadelphia (Mississippi) and played baseball for Philadelphia High School, played two seasons at East Central Community College. From there, he signed with the Bulldogs under coach Ron Polk. He redshirted in 1996. Then he started in the outfield for Mississippi State in 1997 and 1998. He was a big part of both of those teams that won a Regional tournament and made it to the College World Series. He was the MVP of one of those regionals and made the all-region team both years.
It has stuck in Bryan’s gut that despite having outstanding records and memorable seasons, the Bulldogs have always gone home empty-handed.
But they didn’t this year.
“This means so much,” Bryan said. “It goes back all the way to 1985 when I first started following State with Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro. It is a long time coming for this program and this university.”
Bryan works in sales for Intuitive Surgical. He has been a volunteer baseball coach at Madison Central High School. But he wasn’t able to coach this year because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
That turned out good for Bryan. He was able to attend most of Mississippi State’s home series on the weekend.
“I enjoyed that,” Bryan said. “This may be the end of coaching for me.”
While in Omaha, Bryan enjoyed running into many friends including country music artist Hardy, who is also from Philadelphia, and will be performing later this month at the Neshoba County Fair.
“I saw Michael Hardy,” Bryan said. “He’s Hardy (the country singer) now. He’s playing on Tuesday night of the Fair so I want to … see him. My family has a camper site. We will come in Saturday and Sunday, go home and then come back on Tuesday.”