STILLWATER – Josh Holliday always carried tangible connections to Oklahoma State’s rich baseball past, growing up in and around the program, observing Gary Ward and all the legendary players, playing at OSU and serving as an assistant on his dad’s coaching staff.
Yet since his return as head coach, and despite solid success, he consistently found something missing in his restoration effort.
Until last weekend.
With the Cowboys storming through the Stillwater Regional, strong crowds averaging more than 3,000 energized their three games, finally making it feel like old times inside Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
“I stayed up at night losing sleep the last two years,” Holliday said, “thinking about how to reestablish the culture of this being a big deal. I want this to be a big deal for the kids who play here. I’m so thankful that the kids got to see that.
“It kind of makes me feel whole, in a lot of ways, when it comes to the program. It makes me feel like people are back for the kids.”
Coming up on his two-year anniversary as Cowboys coach, Holliday had returned all the vitals to the program. Winning ways, with 89 wins – and counting – in two seasons. A Big 12 championship. Regional host status. An old-school OSU attitude, confirmed by veteran Cal State Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook after the Cowboys beat his club on back-to-back nights.
“They have the Oklahoma State attitude back,” Vanderhook said. “There ain’t no doubt.”
And for at least one rocking weekend at Allie P., the fans were back, too. Attendance for OSU’s three games: 9,164.
“Helping us to feel like we’ve arrived a little bit again,” Holliday said. “Having this ballpark full of people and seeing the way our kids respond to the crowd is something that I’ve ached for ever since we came back, to see that.
“I knew in my heart it could happen, but it’s happening because of the players.”
That’s vintage Holliday, who deflects all credit, mostly shoving it on his players, but also on his coaching staff. And it’s arguably one of the best staffs in the country, with Rob Walton and Marty Lees arriving with stout resume’s when convinced to join the OSU resurrection project.
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