By Randy York
I don’t know about anyone else, but I have friends who still thank me for encouraging them to buy men’s season basketball tickets. I have more friends, including two with club football seats and choice volleyball seats, who regret not taking my advice to buy season basketball tickets. We all know the story, and it bears a similarity with Nebraska Baseball. With plenty of tickets still available, why not wait? Here’s an Immediate Advisory: Talk to those Husker basketball fans who waited and ask them how that strategy worked out for them. Here today…gone tomorrow, and who knows when the next chance will arrive to buy the season tickets they bypassed.
I could stand on that soapbox and predict the same scenario for Nebraska Baseball because I truly believe the Darin Erstad Effect packs the same kind of wallop as TMI – the Tim Miles Influence. No one, of course, can predict how long it will take for either program to reach national prominence. But everyone knows in the backs of their minds that both head coaches have the fight and the fire for a fabulous future.
Nebraska’s Athletic Marketing Department certainly sees the same parallel. That’s why Assistant Athletic Director Michael Stephens and Director Lonna Kliment had so much fun promoting season ticket sales through videos that feature current Husker players. Fans will get a kick out of a TV Ad where you can draft yourself and another Ad that enables you to select your seat. And let’s not forget the increasing popularity of the nine-game diamond deal, which has served as a meaningful prelude for current season ticket buyers.
For the First Time Ever, Babcock Buys Season Tickets
A good friend of mine recently bridged from buying the diamond deal for two seasons (plus a sizable number of single-game purchases) to a full-fledged season ticket holder. Mike Babcock, the foremost historian for University of Nebraska football, basketball and baseball, has a unique sense of anticipating emerging excellence. I would never lobby him to buy season baseball tickets because Hawks Field becomes like a second home for him beginning in March. Here’s a kicker I submit as Evidence A in a proactive conversation. For the first time in Mike Babcock’s life, he’s bought Nebraska season baseball tickets, and I think most everyone would enjoy hearing his strategic rationale, so they can relate their own compelling motives to spend wisely.
A sportswriter friend and Babcock were talking during a recent Husker baseball practice. The subject was how baseball observed from the press box has its shortcomings, even though both know they couldn’t ask for a better view. Furthermore, they decided, on cold days, the value of a press box seat goes without saying.
“But baseball is best enjoyed outdoors, which is why my friend often watches from a camera well next to the dugout,” Babcock told me.
Watching baseball outside is the reason Babcock purchased tickets for some Husker games the past two seasons. Let the record show that encouragement from his wife, Barb, who enjoys Husker baseball as much as Mike does, also played a role in the season-ticket decision.
Mike’s Wife is a Fan Reflecting His Own Baseball Passion
“She’s the main reason we bought season tickets,” Babcock said. “She’s a baseball fan in general, and a reflection of my own passion for a sport I’ve embraced since Little League.”
Babcock loves baseball so much, he’s been a volunteer PA announcer at Lincoln’s Sherman Field for Legion baseball games for several summers, trying to pay back the Legion for his own memorable experiences. It’s also why he’s been the official scorer for the Lincoln Saltdogs for eight summers.
“As Harry Caray or Russ Hodges used to say, ‘you can’t beat fun at the old ballpark,’” Babcock said.
I’m intrigued, but not surprised that Babcock bought two season tickets for Erstad’s third season at the helm of Nebraska Baseball. Using part of the tagline on the Huskers’ marketing campaign to sell season tickets, he believes in who the Huskers are. Moreover, he envisions who they might become once they integrate a nationally prominent recruiting class with productive returnees who helped the Huskers come within a half inning of winning the 2013 Big Ten Conference Tournament in Indianapolis and earning the NCAA bid that went with it.
Even with a Free Seat, He Wants to Be Part of the Crowd
Remember, Babcock could sit in the press box in a free seat all season. “But I bought season tickets this time around, and I feel good about it,” he said.
Why season tickets?
“Well, I could point out that Darin Erstad has the program going in the right direction, and I want to be a part of it,” he said. “I could also say I want to be on-board before ticket demand exceeds supply.”
But that’s not quite it, though Babcock admits it would make double-dog sense.
“No, that’s not it,” he told me. “I bought season tickets because whenever there’s a game, I want to be there. My wife’s the same way. Her encouragement is all I needed. She’s OK with it, so it’s good all the way around. We thought about it a lot. We’re glad we did what we did.”
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