Local Vols fans share stories of seeing Tennessee win first baseball national title

Tuesday, July 2, 2024
Dyersburg resident Jeff Agee was one of many on-hand and had a good view of the Tennessee Vols postgame celebration following their win the Game 3 of the Men’s College World Series on June 24 in Omaha, Nebraska.
State Gazette photos/Submitted



On Monday, June 24, the University of Tennessee Volunteer baseball team defeated Texas A&M 6-5 in the third game of the Men’s College World Series to win the program’s first-ever national championship in college baseball in Omaha, Neb.

Agee (third from left) attended the game with his wife, Jolie (fourth from left) friends (from left) Gina and Stan Welch.
State Gazette photo/Submitted

While there was likely a large contingent locally watching the game on television, there were fans from here in Dyer County who were on hand clad in orange and white to see the Vols capture the first national title in men’s sports since the 1998 football season.

A life-long fan of UT sports, Jeff Agee pointed out just how special it was for him to able to be there when the Vols captured the national title.

“Excluding my family and my children’s individual sporting events, it was probably the most exciting and electric type atmosphere that I have been in in my life to be honest,” Agee described. “My whole family are all UT fans. Jolie, Franklin and India are all graduates of Knoxville. But, we’re all giant fans of UT sports.”

David Armstrong celebrates the win in the stands while the celebration continues on the field.
State Gazette photo/Jason Peevyhouse

Agee was in attendance all three days along with his wife, Jolie, and friends Stan and Gina Welch

Agee admitted he and his family have only been closely following the Vols baseball team during the last few seasons since current head coach Tony Vitello was hired.

“We just jumped on the wagon four or five years ago,” Agee said. “We have not missed one game of the Tennessee Vols this year – either by radio, TV, and we’ve been to multiple games on-site.”

Tennessee’s flag was the lone banner remaining on Monday night following the Vols’ victory.
State Gazette photo/Jason Peevyhouse

After being present at the SEC Tournament, Agee and his wife decided they would go if Tennessee reached the College World Series Finals.

“We have said that over the last five years,” Agee remembered. “They’ve been there, what, two or three times but never made the finals.

“But, I was going to go every year they if made the finals.”

During the trip, Agee and his party attended two of the three Vol Walks. This is a tradition where the team is cheered on by the fans as they approach the stadium venue where they are playing.

Leading up to the final two games with Tennessee needing to win both contests after falling in Game 1, Agee, who has attended Vol Walks in the past, said this time it was different.

“With that baseball team, it was probably more electric than any of the Vol Walks I have experienced before – even in Knoxville,” Agee explained.

Another long-time Tennessee fan who was in Omaha was David Armstrong. Like Agee, it was a memorable experience to see his team win it all.

“It’s one of those where you feel like it’s a chance of a lifetime,” Armstrong explained. “You look back in 1998 when Tennessee won the national championship in football, you thought ‘yeah, I’ll go the next time they win it.’ Now, 26 years later, they haven’t won it again or another national championship in men’s sports.

“You feel like you have to take the opportunity to go out there and do it – to be a part of the experience to hopefully win the national championship and be there when they win it.”

With the NCAA Mens’ College World Series approaching, Armstrong’s brother-in-law, David Harlan, asked if he would be interested in going to the finals should the Vols make it that far. With another trip already planned, Armstrong had to think about this decision.

“My wife and I were going to leave town that Wednesday after the National Championship Game on Monday,” Armstrong explained. “We already had a trip planned so we were going to be gone a couple of days.”

He initially turned down the invitation due to how close the two trips would be. Though Armstrong admitted he was fine with his decision, initially, when the Vols defeated Florida State on June 19, his brother-in-law gave him a second chance to take him up on his offer.

“I thought that something was telling me to go and do this,” Armstrong said. “So, I called him and said I would go.”

The two left on Friday, June 21, and arrived in Omaha on Saturday, sitting in the outfield bleachers for the first game – Tennessee’s only loss in the three-game series.

“It didn’t go the way we wanted it to go,” Armstrong said. “We were hoping maybe it would be two games and then come home.

“The next game wasn’t going too well until the six inning. Dylan Dreiling hit a two-run homer to put us up 2-1 then we got another the next inning to go up 4-1 and win that game.”

Armstrong, an assistant principal at Dyer County High School, also coached during his career in education. With that experience, he could see the tide of momentum turning into the Vols’ favor.

“It wasn’t very much fun the first game-and-a-half,” Armstrong explained. “Then, we hit the two-run home run to go up 2-1 and, all the sudden, it got fun.

“You could just kind of tell that maybe we’re going to get it going here. And let us get to the next day. Then, there was just a feeling of when we won that game on Sunday that they’re going to do this. This was our time.”

Like many Tennessee fans looking back, this was one of the top things Armstrong said he has been to in sports.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: