The Hall of Fame room at Rosenblatt Stadium was buzzing just minutes after TCU eliminated FSU in 2010, ending Coach Mike Martin’s 14th attempt to win a national championship with the Seminoles.
After answering questions about the game from the press, Martin stepped down from the platform and I pulled him aside to ask him about his favorite Rosenblatt memories. As he tries to win a title for the 16th time this year, I can’t help but reflect on his answers from seven years ago.
Yes, a national championship would be great. But I have a feeling that the answers he gave me that night will be the ones he thinks about most, no matter whether he wins a championship or not.
Here’s what he said:
“I would say the biggest memory that I have is the time I was in the dugout about 16 years ago,” Martin said with raw emotion filling his voice as he remembered watching his own son, Mike Martin, Jr. walk up to the plate. “And I said, ‘Everybody’s out here watching their son. They’re having a big time and all I do is coach – scream and yell and jump up and down. I ain’t gonna coach. I’m gonna be a daddy.’
“I didn’t give a sign. I just sat there – for one minute, and I watched my son hit. I looked at the scoreboard. I looked at the fans. Two pitches later, he gets a base hit up the middle. Doug Mientkiewicz goes to third, points at Mike and I became a coach again. That’s one I’ll always treasure.
“The other memories I had that are special are coaching guys like Buster Posey, who came up against Miami in ‘08 with the bases loaded and we’re down five,” Martin said. “The count goes to 3-2 and they threw him a slider down and he took it for ball four.
“Anybody else would have been anxious and wanting to be a hero. He took it and walked his last at bat as a Seminole. It made me proud just to know him – to see what he’s all about, to take that pitch for his team. And what’s fun now – two years later, he’s in the big leagues and look what he’s doing now every night.”
That particular year (2010), the fans of Omaha had embraced TCU, but they respected Martin and what he’d done over the years and, in turn, Martin had nothing but good things to say about the city.
“The people of Omaha are the best,” Martin said. “This is just a super place to end your season. These people have just embraced this event. They make you feel so welcome and there’s no warmer – this is the heartland of America, undoubtedly, and it’s because of the great people.”