OMAHA, Neb. — The package was a mystery and was sent to Louie M’s Burger Lust during the week of the Men’s College World Series. It was a taped wooden box with written hanging instructions for LSU fans. Louie Marcuzzo, owner of the south Omaha cafe known for its Bloody Marys and, well, burgers, placed the package on a back counter, where it sat for three or four days.
That was around 2000, when the Tigers made regular trips to Omaha and Louie’s was packed with guests in purple and gold. When the first LSU horde arrived this week, Marcuzzo mentioned the package and someone claimed it. Curious, he asked what was in the box. “Ashes,” said the fan.
“A man died and wanted his ashes spread on home plate at the CWS…” Marcuzzo said. “Well, I’ve absolved myself of responsibility because I don’t know what trouble they might get into. But as far as I know, those ashes were spread somewhere on the field.”
“I thought it was strange at the time. But they’re LSU fans, so of course it’s weird.”
Marcuzzo means that in a good way. Like many bar and restaurant owners, he follows the NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals with keen interest each year and is quietly — and not so quietly — committed to getting LSU to Omaha. The Tigers are good for business, it’s proving the latest tally for jello shots at Rocco’s Pizza and Cantina.
No fanbase follows their team to Omaha more than LSU, said Marcuzzo’s son Jack, Burger Lust general manager. When LSU won its super regional contest last week and traveled to Omaha for the first time since 2017, the Marcuzzos doubled their liquor order and hired more staff for the week.
“It seems like consumption will increase when LSU is here,” said Louie Marcuzzo. “You eat a lot. They are here to party and have fun.”
The best fans in college baseball
— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) June 17, 2023
Many Tigers fans travel to Omaha for the MCWS, even if their team is not represented in the eight-team field. Chris Guillot, a 60-year-old chemical salesman known for his cheers at Alex Box Stadium, has attended all but two Men’s College World Series since 1989. He’s been to Omaha so many times that he’s in many ways in-time Nebraska.
Guillot even chanted “Go Big Red” when Nebraska made it to the MCWS in the early 2000s and dubbed the event Omaha’s Mardi Gras. When he was younger, he bought 50 cases of beer when he got to town, decided he and his entourage needed another 10 cases, then said to the inspector, “You might want to stock your shelves again.”
Guillot loves being in Omaha in mid-June, loving the way the city greets LSU, and getting goosebumps at every Superregional when the Tigers sing “Omaha.” He said when he went to Planet Fitness the other night, people at the gym were excited to see him because he was an LSU fan.
“What’s beautiful and unique about Omaha … it’s like hugging the LSU fans,” Guillot said. “They hug us, they kiss us. Wherever you go, you feel like royalty.”
Such is LSU’s fan base in Omaha that every year, regardless of whether their team makes it to the MCWS, a massive 10-day tailgate takes place at Creighton University’s football stadium. On Saturday afternoon, a few hours before the Tigers played Tennessee, hundreds of LSU fans ate crawfish and gumbo while the Stanford-Wake Forest game played on the stadium’s big screen.
The origin of the tailgate dates back to 2002 when four Louisiana men were looking for a place to park their truck at Rosenblatt Stadium, the original site of the Men’s College World Series. Omahan Randy Workman waved them in and invited them to a parking lot next to the stadium. The first tailgate was flimsy—a styrofoam cooler and two packs of boudin.
Eventually it evolved into LSU fans hauling deep fryers and black pots for Jambalaya and cooking for anyone who was hungry. Every year the men look forward to early summer to eat, drink and spend time together.
Workman became so good friends with the LSU clan that he and his wife Joan travel to Louisiana a few times a year to spend time with the men he met in the parking lot 20 years ago.
“I was in Death Valley for a football game against Alabama,” Workman said. “I fished and hunted with them and they came here to fish and hunt.
“We are like a family.”
When the MCWS moved downtown from Rosenblatt in 2011, the friends needed a new place to stop. One Omahan in the group is a Creighton donor and arranged for the tailgates to take place in Creighton, which is less than a mile from Charles Schwab Field.
Brandon McCarville, Creighton’s assistant athletic director for facility operations and events, declined to identify the donor. McCarville, primarily a Bluejays fan, hasn’t seen his team at the MCWS since 1991, but he doesn’t hide his affection for his second-favourite college baseball team. “Go Tiger,” he said.
“LSU fans kind of get along well with Nebraska,” McCarville said. “They love to smile at you and say hello. There is definitely an aspect of friendliness that is very similar to Nebraska and Louisiana.”
LSU’s tailgate occupied half of the concourse of the football stadium on Saturday; the other half was reserved for a party for Creighton’s dental school. As McCarville spoke, one of the LSU cooks handed a pan of crawfish to a group of people in the dentist group. “Wow,” one of them said as they walked away with the food.
The group eventually moved to Charles Schwab Field where the Tigers earned a 6-3 win. And for another day, LSU fans sunbathed at their summer home.