OMAHA, Neb. — LSU catcher Michael Papierski got his historic second home run ball back Saturday in an equitable trade with a young fan.
Papierski homered from both sides of the plate in the Tigers’ 6-1 win over Oregon State that put LSU in the College World Series finals against Florida. That second ball was caught by Jack Young, a Marine Corps captain from Gonzales living in Omaha who waited in line five hours for tickets for his family.
Young gave the ball to his 10-year-old son, Hunter, who also plays catcher, and as his dad said, idolizes Papierski.
“(He) never misses an LSU game and knows literally every detail about the Tiger baseball team,” Young said, “especially Papierski. During games, Hunter mimics Papierski’s catching stance and on-field leadership style and presence."
Young said his son immediately told his dad he wanted to give the ball back to Papierski. They found him at the LSU team bus afterward, where Papierski traded the ball for his batting gloves from the game.
“This could not have been more perfect for him,” Jack Young said.
Young said his son’s dream is to be an LSU catcher and play for the Tigers in the College World Series.
“How cool would that be?” Young asked.
Maybe the only thing cooler than Hunter Young’s experience Saturday.
A Tiger's Gator
If the second name in Florida’s batting order looked familiar to long-time LSU baseball fans Monday night in the first game of the CWS finals, there’s a reason for that.
Gators junior shortstop Dalton Guthrie is the son of former LSU pitcher Mark Guthrie. The elder Guthrie pitched for LSU from 1984-87, playing a key role on the Tigers’ first two CWS teams in 1986 and 1987.
Mark Guthrie went on to a 14-year major league career with eight ballclubs, ending with the Chicago Cubs in 2003.
Dalton Guthrie made a tremendous diving catch in foul ground on a ball hit by LSU shortstop Kramer Robertson in the third inning Monday.
Superdome supporting LSU
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome Twitter account said the facility would be lit in purple and gold each evening during the CWS finals in LSU’s honor.
The Superdome hosted LSU and a number of other schools in the Busch Challenge/Winn-Dixie Showdown, an early season event from 1987-99. It was also the site of the 1992 Southeastern Conference tournament, which LSU won with a 12-1 victory over Florida in the final.
The NCAA expanded its umpiring crew to six for the finals after using four during bracket play.
Adam Dowdy was at home plate Monday, with Jeff Head at first base, Danny Collins at second, Steve Mattingly at third, Mark Winters on the left field line and Greg Street in right field.
Street, the plate umpire Saturday for LSU’s 6-1 victory over Oregon State, drew criticism for his wide strike zone.
Advocate sportswriters Luke Johnson and Robin Fambrough contributed to this report.