ARIZONA BASEBALL
CELEBRATION

Wildcats baseball on top of the world

Party 5,000 strong at McKale welcomes victorious Wildcats
2012-06-27T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:37:19Z Wildcats baseball on top of the worldPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 27, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Her face framed by a ketchup-red straw hat, Mickie Morgan waited for the Arizona Wildcats baseball team Tuesday by reciting a cheer she remembered from more than 50 years ago: Sometimes you're up/sometimes you're down/but when you're against our Wildcats, you're upside down.

In her Alabama accent, the 77-year-old described how the Wildcats "got into a chicken coop" and beat the South Carolina Gamecocks 4-1 to win the College World Series on Monday night in Omaha, Neb.

She watched the final out on television, of course.

"I don't think God would forgive me if I didn't," she said. "It would be sinful."

Minutes later, the lights of McKale Center darkened, and the Wildcats led the NCAA national championship trophy to the cheers of a throng about 5,000 strong.

The trophy shone blindingly against the spotlight.

"I almost tripped going down the stairs," coach Andy Lopez said. "Man, what is going on here?"

The Wildcats, many of whom hadn't slept after Monday night's victory, flew a charter flight that landed in Tucson before noon. The team received a police escort to the UA mall, driving beneath a shower of fire truck water cannons.

The crowd featured Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, who vowed to rename a street outside Hi Corbett "Championship Way," plus former coaches Jerry Stitt, Jim Wing and Jerry Kindall, football coach Rich Rodriguez, most of the men's basketball team and 5,000 others in full throat.

"I feel like it's the same fans that have been watching us for the entire season," pitcher Kurt Heyer said. "They've done a great job. This is as much ours as it is theirs."

Heyer, who did a funny, uncanny impersonation of athletic director Greg Byrne during the half-hour program, said Tuesday's event capped the best 24 hours of his life.

"This is probably going to be one of the three top things I'm going to remember," he said. "A national championship, my wedding and my first-born child."

Most Outstanding Player Robert Refsnyder, who received one of the day's many standing ovations, said the party will be one of his last, and lasting, images of the on-campus arena.

A fifth-round draft pick by the New York Yankees, the right fielder will likely leave Tucson soon.

"To have the last image of walking down and seeing people celebrating a national championship, that's going to be a special moment," he said.

Lopez figured the party would be small and brief; he even made plans with his wife to pick up his car and go to lunch right afterward.

"Ye of little faith," he said, acknowledging his own underestimation.

The Pascua Yaqui Clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Club of Tucson spent Monday making a sign to bring to Tuesday's party. Ten kids got permission slips and were driven to the party by counselors, happy to be encouraging a college influence.

"We're excited," said Tomas Luevanos, 15. "The Wildcats won!"

Cris Franco's and Lenny Mariano's signs were a bit edgier. In crayon and marker, the UA grads, ages 28 and 23, praised "Man Baby" Johnny Field.

They drew shortstop Alex Mejia with six arms, for his defensive prowess, and deemed the UA's starting pitchers "The Three Horsemen."

They hoped the players would take their signs home.

"I didn't expect to see this many people coming up and supporting us," Mejia said. "It's a great feeling to feel the community coming up.

"This is really for the fans, this championship. It's always said, but we really mean it."

Mejia was at the bottom of Monday night's dog pile, calling it "the best pain I ever had."

Tuesday might have been the best dream.

"I'm still in it," he said. "It feels like I'll never wake up at this point."

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