Good Read: Gamecock Glory
By Sean Ryan
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
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.