AS A FORMER star pitcher for Stanford and current College World Series analyst for ESPN, Kyle Peterson has been to Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb., more times than he can count. And no matter how often he returns, he doubts that anything could top his first experience on the diamond.
"We used to go to all the (CWS) games there, sit in the same seats every year — my parents still have them," said Peterson, who grew up in Omaha. "I'd never set foot on the field until my high school team (Creighton Prep) played in the state tournament there my junior year (in 1993). I'll never forget the feeling of winning the state title on that field."
Peterson is back at Rosenblatt this week working as part of the ESPN crew that's broadcasting the annual event. He took a moment to discuss his many baseball memories. ON ATTENDING CWS GAMES AS A YOUTH: "You'd wait by the dugout and see if someone would throw you a ball, or wait by the bus and see if you got a wristband. I still have a program from 1987 when Stanford won it. It's signed by a bunch of players and coaches." ON HIS DECISION TO ATTEND STANFORD: "I was sitting in the stands when Paul Carey hit the home run off Ben McDonald in 1987. I was 11. Something stuck out. That was the place I wanted to go. In the summer before my senior year (in high school), I attended a camp there. There were some pretty big hitters — Eric Byrnes, Troy Glaus. I told my dad if they ever offered anything and I got into the school, I was going. They ended up offering a little bit, and that was it." ON THE HIGHLIGHT OF A SEVEN-YEAR PRO CAREER: "I had major surgery on my shoulder in 2000 and was on the disabled list all year (with the Brewers). You had to wonder: Is this it? Will I ever come back? I was in the minors the next season, and one day in Pawtucket (R.I.) the pitching coach ran out to me in the outfield while I was shagging flies and said: 'You've got a 5 o'clock flight. You're pitching tomorrow in Chicago.' It got rained out, and they pushed me back to pitch in St. Louis. I pitched five innings, and Chad Fox, who had rehabbed with me, relieved me. We won. To make it back and to have my wife and parents there watching, and then to have Fox pitch after me ... you couldn't ask for anything more than that." ON HIS FAVORITE MAJOR-LEAGUE PLAYER: "I tend to root for guys I played with or guys I played against who I got to know. I've always admired Mark Loretta. He's not going to make the Hall of Fame, but he's a guy who, as a teammate, you wanted in the lineup every day. He could play second base and shortstop. He was incredibly smart. He could handle the bat. He was solid defensively. He could run the basepaths. Yet it seems he was always overlooked." ON THE INCREASED POPULARITY OF COLLEGE BASEBALL: "ESPN has been the biggest reason. Another big reason is there's been a big financial push in athletic departments. Twenty years ago, there were 15-20 programs that were really serious about baseball. Now there's maybe 60. There's parity. More teams have a chance (to reach the CWS). From a fans' standpoint, more teams are getting here. It's brought more eyes to the game."
Chasing the news
Ted Robinson begins a busy 16-day stretch today when he teams with Cynthia Potter and Andrea Kremer to broadcast the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials from Indianapolis (NBC, 12:30 p.m.). He returns to the Bay Area after Sunday's finals (NBC, noon), then leaves Wednesday for London to become NBC's voice of Wimbledon. ... Greg Papa won't be dropping the green flag, but he will have a hand in the start of Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. Papa will introduce the drivers to the big crowd during an on-stage ceremony that begins at 1:30 p.m. and sends the contestants toward their cars for the 2 p.m. start. ... ESPN's live coverage of Thursday's NBA draft begins at 4 p.m., with the first pick slated to be made at 4:35. The Warriors, who pick 14th, are likely to make their first-round selection between 5:30 and 5:45.
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