Mississippi State fan, 79, in her glory watching College World Series history

Tina Hoyle was born in Mississippi and raised in Louisiana. She married at 19 and went on to have three kids. When it came time to pursue a career, Tina had to make a tough decision: stay in her home state and raise her family, or move to a larger city in the hopes of getting a good job.

Of all the stories at CWS, this one is the most unique. An 80-year old Mississippi State fan, who’s been attending the CWS since 2006, has become an internet sensation after she had a heart attack during the second inning of game one. The woman, who asked to be identified only as “Peggy,” is in the hospital.

Lanie Boone, 79, longtime Mississippi State fan, thinks she’ll have plenty of time to sleep.

Like most Mississippians with Burgundian blood, she was in Omaha to watch her beloved Bulldogs win the College World Series 9-0 over Vanderbilt on Wednesday night. This is the school’s first national title in any sport.

I’ve waited my whole life for this, Lainey said. If the Dawgs were going to be there, we had to be there too, because we felt it was their time.

It doesn’t matter that Lanie mostly uses a wheelchair because of her rheumatoid arthritis, that she and her two grandsons drove more than 13 hours from their home in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, on Monday night, or that they spent $3,300 to buy last-minute tickets through an online ticketing service.

Lanie was destined for Omaha.

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When her two grandsons, Ben Boone (29) and Justice Boone (15), couldn’t convince their father David to go to Omaha on Sunday because he had to work, Lanie said: I’ll go, and I’ll pay if you take me.

Lanie joked that at first her grandchildren probably thought she was speaking out of turn, but they soon realized she meant it. Ben, the owner of the concrete company, was still busy on Monday, and after getting up at 5:30 a.m. and pouring 34 feet of concrete, they all got in the car around 8 p.m.

Here we go, Ben said. Grandma didn’t blink. She was even more excited than we were.

They found a hotel in Clarksdale, Arkansas, about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday and slept four hours. They then traveled to Omaha and stayed at a hotel in Council Bluffs, Iowa, across the Missouri River in Omaha and at TD Ameritrade Park.

It was great, Ben said. We arrived about three hours before the game and it looked like the whole city was painted brown.

When Ben and Justice Laney arrived at the stadium, they were cheered on before and after the game. They already had tickets for Tuesday night’s game and were seated in the right midfield bleachers. Lanie could sit on the balcony with her grandchildren behind her, and they would come and go to see how she was doing.

It was great to be there when the Dogs won the title after attending so many games (in Starkville) growing up, but the most special part was being there with my grandmother, Justice said.

Lanie became a celebrity in the stadium with her bright smile. During the long rain delay on Tuesday, the staff at the Dippin Dots booth asked her to sit under their awning so she could stay dry.

I’m obsessed with sports, so I don’t mind getting a little wet, she joked. But everyone there was so nice and helpful.

When it became clear that Mississippi State would win Tuesday night’s game, Ben went to the stadium and bought tickets for Wednesday’s game. They could also get better pitches – right behind first base to right field in the sixth.

After Mississippi State beat Vanderbilt’s ace Kumar Roker on Wednesday to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 5-0, Lanie said she could almost pinch herself.

I’m thinking in this stadium: I can’t believe I’m here, she said.

Ben, Justice and Lanie Boone (left to right) from their seats at the College World Series in Omaha. Thanks to Ben and Justice Boone.

But really, once Rowdy Jordan started the game with a single, she knew it was going to be a brown sunset for the Bulldogs.

That set the tone for the entire match. We had no intention of losing, she said.

The stadium was in an uproar after the last game, and Laney managed to get a photo of the Mississippi State team’s dog pile (or Dawg pile, as she clarified it). Her only regret is not being able to attend the Dawg Pile herself.

Then Lanie and her grandchildren made a pilgrimage in search of national championship jerseys. The lines in front of the clothing tents were endless, and Ben pushed his grandmother in her wheelchair to get as close to the front row as possible. At that moment, a man walked past them, leaned towards Lanie and asked her what size she was wearing. She told him a size medium and he pulled a shirt from his pocket, smiled and handed it to her.

I already paid him, ma’am. It’s yours, the man said.

It was such a trip.

As the game and the evening drew to a close, Lani said all sorts of thoughts ran through his head. She thought of her late husband Pete, also an avid Mississippi State supporter, who passed away last year. Lanie still lives in the same house she and Pete bought 55 years ago.

He was by my side in spirit, Lanie said.

She also thinks back fondly on her grandchildren and their willingness to take her to the College World Series, and how Boone has deeply embedded Mississippi State in the lives of the entire family over the years. They grew up attending football, baseball, men’s and women’s basketball games. Laney’s daughters, Cary and Barbara, graduated from Mississippi State University in the 1980s, with Barbara on the golf team.

I worked a lot as a kid. We all did, and I raised kids, and I really didn’t have the money to do something like that, Lanie said. But now I have the opportunity to do the same with my grandchildren. I told them: I don’t know how many more years I have on this earth, but doing something like this with you is worth every penny.

Laney, Ben and Justice proudly wore Mississippi State national championship jerseys as they drove home Thursday morning in Hazlehurst, Mississippi.

I didn’t get tired. I was too excited – and now I’m not tired, Lanie said.

Not after the trip of a lifetime.

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