Views and scenes from the Mississippi State Baseball Championship Parade
Here are some of the sites and scenes from the Mississippi State Baseball National Championship Parade. This is the Bulldogs’ first title in any sport.
Rashad Milligan, Mississippi Clarion Ledger
STARKVILLE – It started as a casual trip to the store. Daniel Faulkner walked into The Lodge hoping to find a “pretty little outfit” for his niece. The Mississippi State dress he came across did the trick, but something caught his eye.
Faulkner was looking for a hat to add to his collection when he noticed a brown headband with a white M-over-S logo on it.
“I’d look pretty cool in there,” he thought.
So he bought it.
The headband complemented her tank top, which started out as a joke. Faulkner had been selected as “Guy of the Game” in a game against Oregon State in 2020.
Tasked with picking a prize, Faulkner’s eyes immediately turned to the object he was least likely to use.
“Tanktop,” Faulkner said. “Summer, baby. Let’s go.”
The headband and tank top have been part of MSU baseball fan lore ever since, catching the eye of ESPN’s show against Notre Dame last season and gaining momentum as the Bulldogs marched to their first national title.
Mississippi State was crushing the Irish in scorching conditions, and the TV crew noticed Faulkner was back in the front row of the right field berm. Faulkner’s phone started filling up with notifications from friends and family seeing his face on their televisions. The Party Berm Squad legend was born.
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Faulkner’s father graduated from Mississippi State in 1989. His mother went to Texas A&M but earned her master’s degree at MSU.
Thanks to his family’s moves to Dallas, New Orleans, and Houston, the establishment of a brown and white fandom in Faulkner continued. Mississippi College and A&M were in consideration, but where Faulkner ended up for college was hardly up for debate.
“It was always going to be the state,” Faulkner says.
His first game at Davis Wade Stadium came as a kid in 2007 – a win over Gardner Webb. He traveled to Columbus, Ohio in 2018 with his grandmother and father to see Mississippi State women’s basketball fail in the national championship.
Mississippi State sports were a cornerstone of Faulkner’s life, but enrolling in fall 2018 and living the reality of being a college student seemed surreal. He attended as many sporting events as he could, getting as close to the front row as possible.
When he had no friends to go with during the height of Vic Schaefer’s tenure at MSU, Faulkner joined his grandmother who had seats to watch her favorite program.
“(Life) has always been brown and white,” Faulkner said.
Front and center at Dudy Noble
Faulkner, like many sports fans, dreaded what accompanied the initial outbreak of COVID-19.
“Are we going to play sports again one day? he was thinking.
Mississippi State women’s basketball was on its way to hosting NCAA tournament games as the men’s team made a late push for the playoffs. Baseball was expected to have another season worthy of Omaha.
And then it disappeared with part of Faulkner’s college experience.
Faulkner attended football games in 2020 when students returned to campus, but the experience had nothing to do with pre-pandemic.
So when baseball returned in 2021 and the crowds grew, Faulkner’s friend Walker Phillips encouraged his friends to line up early and try to sit together in front of the berm every game.
It meant maneuvering through others – even the fearsome freshmen – trying to take their place.
They sat up front as crowd restrictions eased. They built their fame over the playoffs. Eventually, they traveled to Omaha to watch the national championship.
Faulkner thought back to his grandmother, an MSU superfan, who died in 2020 and never got to see State win a national championship. He thought back to when the sport had been suppressed.
He knew he was living a long-awaited moment.
“We did the fucking thing,” Faulkner said. “It was just a whole flood of emotions. I didn’t know what to do.
Cultivate a culture
Faulkner graduated last week with a degree in history. As he prepares for a job, the series in Florida two weeks ago was his last as a student.
In the series finale, he put the blindfold back on and pulled out the sweaty tank top he swore he would never wear again.
Three days after the series finale, he got out of the shower and saw a Twitter notification waiting for him. Mississippi State Baseball had put up a video with footage of Faulkner in the stands as he explained what Mississippi State meant to him.
A plethora of love came Faulkner’s way, including a response from coach Chris Lemonis.
“Daniel and his crew are what make the Dude special,” he wrote. “And he is at every sporting event. We will always have a place on the berm for you.
If Faulkner accepts Lemonis’ offer, it will be at the back of the berm, he said.
Seating in the front row is reserved for current students and, as an alumnus, he is no exception.
“I never intended to build a culture,” Faulkner said. “Now that the culture is built, I want the culture to be continued by the children who are in school.”