The Fresno State baseball team basked in the adoration of a more than 11,500 fans – most of them wearing red – Thursday evening at a lively celebration for the 2008 NCAA Baseball Champion Bulldogs.
The fans – some who waited two hours in the afternoon heat – couldn’t wait to see their ‘Dogs, and when they did they showed lots of love.
An estimated 5,000 cheering men, women and children lined the parade route on Barstow and Cedar avenues near Beiden Field on the campus, and another 6,500 packed the stands and overflowed onto the field of the baseball park.
The fans were happy to greet the Bulldogs, who returned to Fresno Thursday afternoon after a convincing 6-1 win over the No. 8 Georgia Bulldogs on Wednesday in Omaha to claim the national title.
A Fresno Fire Department ladder truck with Timeout and several players aboard and sirens blazing and lights flashing lead the parade. When the entourage entered Beiden Field and the players hit the field, the crowd erupted, chanting “Fres-no State!
Applause filled the stadium as each of the players and coaches was introduced. Speakers praising the team and thanking fans included Fresno State President John D. Welty, Fresno Mayor Alan Autry, Associated Students President Mackee Mason and National Coach of the Year Mike Batesole.
Master of ceremonies Paul Loeffler, who broadcast most Bulldog baseball games during the year and from Omaha for KMJ 580 radio, asked several players to tell about their experiences during the season and in Omaha.
Following the program, a line of fans ringed the stadium concourse to get autographs from team members.