Called balls and strikes echoing in the Salt River Fields during the MLB4 Tournament weren’t coming from the home plate umpire Billy Van Raaphort. Rather, they were coming from Cal State Fullerton baseball fan David Lamm.
The orange and navy-blue striped overalls, coupled with a Nebraska state license plate and “Cal State Omaha” cap made David stand out in the crowd of shivering Titan supporters.
A road trip and delayed flights weren’t going to stop his family from catching sight of their beloved Titans taking the field.
“(My wife’s) original flight out of John Wayne was canceled, but she said ‘I’m still going.’ So she got on a different flight that flew her to San Jose and there was a delay on that one and then she got into Phoenix,” David said. “She got in probably about 12:30 at night, but she was like ‘I I’m not cancelling this trip, I’m not saying refund my ticket, I’m coming,’”
The journey to Arizona wasn’t the first out-of-state trip David has made since he attended CSUF. During his time in school, David was on a football scholarship before the program was discontinued. After, he became a fan of Titan baseball, led, at the time by Augie Garrido.
The numerous trips CSUF made made to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska influenced David to start a blog named Cal State Omaha.
“Cal State Fullerton’s nickname is Cal State Omaha because we’ve been to Omaha 18 times, won the national championship four times, so when the calendar turns towards June, it’s Omaha time. It’s time to go to Omaha. It’s our second home. That’s the reason why I started the website and the social media,” David said.
The Titan craze didn’t stop with David, his wife Jessica or their 10-year-old son Ryder; it also stretched to their friends who live in Arizona.
As a broadcast major at Cal State Fullerton, the small department had even smaller class sizes. Pam Hiller-Sanchez, a CSUF alumna, shared classes with David, where the two connected with each other over Titan baseball.
Since graduating CSUF, Hiller-Sanchez has resided in Arizona and tries to catch the first pitch through live streams.
“I don’t go to the amount games that David does, but I certainly try to follow Titan baseball,” Hiller-Sanchez said. “This weekend was different, we had to come out here.”
Wrapped up in the commotion of college baseball is Hiller-Sanchez’s husband Tom Sanchez, who donned a navy blue jersey stitched with “Titans” across his chest. Unlike his wife, Tom Sanchez didn’t attend CSUF.
“I became a fan through marriage,” Tom said.
The Lamm family frequents the Hiller-Sanchez household when CSUF travels to a series in the Grand Canyon State.
The father-and-son bonding dove into heckling the umpire and cheering for Titan outfielder, Jackson Lyon. Like his father, Ryder wore an article of clothing that made him stand out in the green stadium seats.
“He’s actually currently wearing the dugout jacket that Augie Garrido wore in 1975 and 1979,” David said. “I’ve kind of forced (his family) to be college baseball fans.”
With Garrido’s No. 16 stitched into the right sleeve, the significance of the Hall of Fame coach wasn’t lost on Ryder.
“I’d probably say it feels good and it’s amazing to wear it because it’s probably one of the best college baseball coaches ever. So I feel so happy and glad to wear this,” Ryder said.
Garrido led the Titans to three national championship titles during his time as skipper.
David bought into Titan baseball with the help of a former team and roommate, following the elimination of the CSUF football program.
“My freshman roommate was Phil Nevin, he was our kicker and punter, and ended going up and having a fantastic Major League Baseball career. To me, he was just Phil because he was our kicker, he was our punter and he was a teammate,” David said.
In the 20 years of being a Titan baseball fanatic, David took his love of the game to another level. On July 11, 2015, Dave and Jessica became the first and only couple to get married at home plate in Goodwin Field.
“The funny thing is that the facilities manager at Goodwin Field didn’t know what to charge,” Jessica said. “But they were absolutely great with the office and the department. It was a beautiful day. They actually just finished up with a ball camp and they got it game-day ready for us.”
With numerous years of Titan baseball under his Cal State Omaha cap, David said he believes this year’s team has a chance to win the College World Series.
“We just played the No.1 team in the nation today. I have a feeling that they will probably make an appearance in Omaha,” David said. “I am confident that I am going to call my shot and say that this is going to be one of our better teams that we have had. We’ve got a really good, talented group of young freshman.”
Arnulfo Gonzalez contributed to this article.