Citadel baseball fans might say yes if the Bulldogs continue their winning ways.
Exhibit A: Mike Hoffman. The Citadel sports information director sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at every home game this season as the Bulldogs continued to improve.
Mike Hoffman, not Michael Buble.
Off-key, on good days.
But The Citadel is 17-10 Southern Conference play and in second place behind Western Carolina going into the final three-game series of the season starting Thursday night at UNC-Greensboro.
The Bulldogs are nicely positioned to challenge for the SoCon Tournament title next week in Greenville.
And the last season in which Hoffman regularly sang during the seventh inning stretch was 1990, the year The Citadel defied all logic and made it to the College World Series. The first Hoffman rendition was an impromptu effort at College Park after an audio version malfunction.
“We beat N.C. State that day,” Hoffman said, a 1985 Northwestern graduate and Miami native. “I kept singing and we won 26 straight games.”
Hoffman was a young assistant sports publicity staffer 23 years ago and left Charleston soon after the Omaha run.
He returned to The Citadel prior to the 2012 baseball season. He didn’t sing, and the Bulldogs had a rare losing record.
Some people credit home run power led by Bo Thompson and Joe Jackson for the great strides this year. Others point to old-school Citadel grit for a mid-season turnaround.
“We grew up a lot at Western Carolina when we lost two 1-run ballgames late and then stole the third game,” head coach Fred Jordan said. “Since then, we’ve played pretty competitive baseball.”
But it’s impossible not to notice Hoffman and the influence of a voice that will never make “The Voice.”
“It’s all me,” Hoffman said.
If the Bulldogs make the NCAA Tournament, you know who’s singing in 2014.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.
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