June 18, 2018 10:23:31 AM
OMAHA, Neb. -- The heart-warming storyline of Mississippi State's trip to the College World Series has been that of Matt Lea, who surprised his father Bill, who is battling Alzheimer's disease, with tickets and a trip to Omaha. Their story has since been documented through his Twitter account and the game broadcasts on ESPN, with the side benefit of raising some money for Alzheimer's disease foundations.
They are far from alone.
Several MSU fans celebrated Father's Day in Omaha, as Sunday was the day between MSU's first two games. Many witnessed the 1-0 walk-off win over Washington Saturday night; some will stick around for the Bulldogs' 6 p.m. winner's bracket game Monday (ESPN) against North Carolina.
In any event, those who experienced the College World Series with their fathers or children had to jump at the opportunity when MSU punched its ticket last weekend.
"It's been a bucket list kind of thing forever," said Jon Turner, a Starkville native who made the trip with his father James this weekend. "My dad is turning 80 this year and he's never made the trip, so I figured there's no time like the present."
The allure of a first trip wasn't the pull for Brad Jones, who was there for the first game of MSU's appearance in the championship series in 2013. This year, he brought his father, Gregg, and is giving his sons -- Brody, 10, and Archer, 8 -- their first taste of the College World Series.
He also didn't want to miss any part of this team's magical ride, which gained another memorable chapter Saturday.
"When a team's going this way you don't want to miss out on it," Jones said.
Jones played for the Bulldogs but never punched a ticket to Omaha as a player. He didn't come to Omaha for the first time until he was 30, and he didn't want the same to happen for his children.
Turner, having seen it now, can understand why Jones wanted it that way.
"You come up here and you wonder why it took so long to get here," Turner said. "It's set up to accommodate people. They could not be nicer to the people that are here.
"The other thing that struck me about being at the game is it's not just fans of the teams in that particular game," he added. "It's a lot of folks that just love baseball."
The Father's Day plans differed for the two families. Since Jones, his father and his children were not going to attend MSU's Monday game, they spent upwards of seven hours at TD Ameritrade Park Sunday -- taking in Arkansas's rain delayed victory over Texas.
Jones wouldn't have it any other way; he's found experiencing Brody's and Archer's first trip to the event more enjoyable than his own first experience.
Turner, after calling home to talk to his wife and daughter, wandered around Omaha with his father before going for a steak dinner. Weather permitting, Jon and James Turner will see MSU's game against North Carolina, capping a memorable Father's Day turned Father's Weekend.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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