Take Me Out to the Ball Game
CIU Night with the Columbia Fireflies
By Michael A. Lanier and Bob Holmes
For the second year in a row, the Columbia International University family enjoyed an August night out at Spirit Communications Park to watch the Class A minor league Columbia Fireflies in action. The Fireflies are an affiliate of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets.
“Baseball is great, but the fellowship is greater,” said senior McKenzie Sutton. “It's great to have our professors out here enjoying the game with us!”
“The opportunity to go to a baseball game with my fellow students has been a great way to begin my semester,” added sophomore Hannah Stansbury.
Perhaps the highlight of the night came before the game ever started when CIU President Dr. Mark Smith threw out the ceremonial first pitch – a strike right down the middle of the plate that was televised on the stadium’s electronic scoreboard. Smith then took his seat in the middle of the CIU section of the stadium.
“This is an awesome night for CIU,” said Dr. Smith. “I hope to have double the crowd next year!”
The students appreciated the president hanging out them.
“It's fun to come out, meet people, and hang out with professors and the president, as well as other students,” said junior McKenzie Tindle.
CIU Provost Dr. Jim Lanpher agreed.
“The fellowship, the fun, the food — it has all been great.”
Speaking of food, it was Two Dollar Tuesday so hot dogs, drinks and popcorn were just $2 each and hungry students took advantage of the deal.
There may have been a few sleepy-eyed students and professors at the 8 a.m. classes the next morning. The game went 13 innings, lasting four hours and 10 minutes with the Fireflies falling to the visiting Asheville Tourists 3-2. But the night was about more than just the game.
“It's a blessing to be here and spend time with friends that will be with me for the rest of my life,” said senior Mark Gossage.
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