June 27, 2011


Good Read: Gamecock Glory

By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


Editor's note - I read Gamecock Glory earlier this spring but never had the chance to review it until now, the day of the start of the College World Series national championship series between Florida and South Carolina.


National championships are special.


Special doesn't go far enough in describing South Carolina's 2010 College World Series title.


In Gamecock Glory, Travis Haney showcases the Gamecocks' pursuit of college baseball's national title. Haney's portrayal of South Carolina as a collection of characters whose one common trait of excelling on the diamond offers a terrific glimpse inside the team that lost its first game in Omaha before rolling to its first national title.


And characters abound. From locker-room séances to the rally stick that could make balls land just foul or just past the outstretched glove of an outfielder. From bit players becoming legends and starters becoming role players. And a coach and his staff that had been there, but never done that in Omaha.


But the character who plays the most powerful role in the book is the smallest one with quite possibly the biggest heart - which allows Haney to go beyond baseball and even South Carolina, making the book enjoyable for any sports fan.


Haney features prominently the story of Bayler Teal, a little boy from Bishopville, S.C. Teal, as Haney chronicled for The Post & Courier in Charleston, S.C., developed cancer when he was 5 and had grown very close to the Gamecocks, who "adopted" his family for Christmas in 2008 and gave him a tiny motorcycle. Over the next year and a half, Teal battled cancer and the Gamecocks battled along with him. The team and the family became closer and closer.


Haney's storytelling of Teal's passing during the Gamecocks' comeback win over Oklahoma in Omaha is powerful and passionate. And pretty amazing, considering the timing of it all - the little boy who had meant so much to a team of young and grown men had passed away just as the Gamecocks were mounting their dramatic comeback. He also writes of the mountains that were moved to make it possible for the rest of the Teal family to get to Omaha to cheer on South Carolina, another matter of timing that worked out perfectly.


Gamecock Glory also features plenty about the team itself with behind-the-scenes philosophies and stories of players and coaches. Haney chronicles the season through key moments and players; vignettes on Blake Cooper and Michael Roth are especially entertaining.


In fact, the quick pace of the book leaves the reader hoping for a few more chapters.


Haney may have another opportunity if South Carolina can repeat history this year.