Gamecocks Baseball National Champions Day in S.C.
Under the order of Gov. Mark Sanford, Thursday was “Gamecocks Baseball National Champions Day.” As proof, the Gamecock flag flew over the Statehouse, and Coach Ray Tanner was awarded the state’s highest civilian honor.
In presenting the Order of the Palmetto to Tanner at Carolina Stadium, Sanford praised the coach and the baseball program for bringing pride to the people of South Carolina.
The national championship is “an inspiration to every young person in South Carolina, whether they are Clemson fans or USC fans, whatever their stripe or color, and to that larger notion of persistence and not giving up in life,” Sanford said. “As much as anything, that’s what this proclamation is about.”
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, state Sens. John Courson, Nikki Setzler and Ronnie Cromer, state Rep. Anton Gunn (a former USC football player) and Secretary of Commerce Joe Taylor all gathered to honor Tanner and the USC program. Carolina’s baseball team, in addition to beating UCLA for the national championship, also had the highest grade point average of the eight teams at the College World Series.
Tanner, in receiving the award, said it was an honor to represent South Carolina in Omaha. While Texas Christian University may have been the early crowd favorite in Omaha, the fans switched to USC after TCU was eliminated from the College World Series.
“The city of Omaha embraced us. I heard so many people say, ‘I love your players. I love who they are and what they represent,’ “ Tanner said. “I said that’s how we are in the state of South Carolina.”
“We are so proud to be representatives of this state on a national stage,” he said. “I hope people across the country understand the state of South Carolina a little better now.”
Not too far from Carolina Stadium, fans stopped by the Statehouse grounds to capture photos of the United States, South Carolina and Gamecock flags flying atop the Capitol dome.
On Friday, a parade honoring the Gamecocks will start at noon at City Hall and continue down Main Street to the State house, said Mayor Steve Benjamin, who was sworn in as the new mayor on Wednesday.
“I hope every day in office is like the first day in office,” he said.