ESPN College World Series analyst Kyle Peterson won’t have to dig too deep for a personal recollection on the excitement and importance of Omaha’s annual late Spring event during his upcoming telecasts.
He not only played in two CWS events with Stanford, but he’s an Omaha native who attended games with his family throughout his childhood.
“I went to every game I could from the time I was a baby,” said Peterson.
“If I wasn’t playing baseball, I was at Rosenblatt [Stadium, the former home of the event] from start to finish of the CWS. Our seats were five rows up from the field in between home plate and first base. I remember hanging over the dugout getting autographs.
“I still have a lot of the memorabilia — a 1986 program full of signatures, a hat signed by a Wichita State player from 20 years ago and so many more,” he said. “And now I am sharing all of it with my young son. He looks forward to this event every year just like I did.”
Peterson, a Stanford pitcher who played in the 1995 and 1997 College World Series and was drafted 13th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1997, has worked on ESPN’s coverage of the College World Series since 2005. He continues this year’s assignments tonight at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2 for Florida vs. Kent State. He will work up to seven games over the next eight days, at various times working in the booth with Mike Patrick, Karl Ravech, Jon Sciambi and Orel Hershiser. Both Jenn Brown and Jessica Mendoza work sidelines for the CWS.
Despite playing in the round-robin tournament twice, Peterson didn’t experience the mound celebration symbolic of so many title-winning teams. But he still walked away with lifelong memories, including one of the most noteworthy of his baseball career.
“Jack Payne, who had the greatest voice, was the PA announcer of the CWS for years,” Peterson said.
“I remember my first year in ’95 and hearing him actually call my name. He had announced the names of so many great players over the years and he said mine. I will never forget that — it was one of the biggest memories of my baseball career.”
While the 1995 appearance created the lasting memory, losing in 1997 stung the most.
“That 1997 Cardinal team was really, really good and I knew we were good enough to win it,” he said. “But LSU was better. That one hurts the most. Especially looking back, I was on the Rosenblatt field taking batting practice when I heard the Brewers had drafted me, so I knew I was going to leave after the season.”
As it does for many Omaha natives and participants, the College World Series continues to create memories for Peterson.
“I love doing this. Once I got into the business, working the College World Series was the goal,” he said. “This is the ultimate. I wouldn’t want to do any other sport.”