It had been 33 years.
That’s how long it had been since the state of West Virginia’s two NCAA Division I baseball programs — West Virginia and Marshall University — had competed in Huntington.
A lot can happen in 33 years.
A lot did.
Marshall’s baseball program played in three different venues during that span — St. Cloud Commons, University Heights and now George T. Smailes Field, affectionately known as “The Deuce.”
Meanwhile in other sports, WVU and Marshall competed in men’s basketball from 1978 to 2015 in an annual game at the Charleston Civic Center, known as the Capital Classic. For several years it was a doubleheader, with the WVU and Marshall women’s basketball teams playing the preliminary game.
Now, WVU and MU don’t compete in basketball — men’s or women’s.
Then there is football. Then-Gov. Joe Manchin mandated a seven-game football series between the Mountaineers and Thundering Herd that began in 2006. Five of the seven games were played in Mountaineer Field at Morgantown, while the 2007 and 2010 games were played in Joan. C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington.
Marshall lost all seven games and the teams haven’t competed in football since 2012.
The Mountain State’s only major college programs also competed in volleyball once upon a time, but that too has ceased.
The sad truth is WVU and Marshall don’t compete in athletics very much anymore, and that’s precisely what made this particular week in March so very special.
On Tuesday, the Mountaineer baseball team played Marshall in Huntington for the first time since 1988 and lost to the Thundering Herd 7-1 at “The Deuce.”
Then on Wednesday, Marshall’s No. 8-ranked men’s soccer team played WVU at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown. It was the first WVU-MU men’s soccer matchup since Sept. 15, 2004.
How about that?
Two athletic contests between the Mountain State’s only two Division I colleges in two days.
What a twofer. And how very refreshing.
It would be nice, very nice, to see the Mountain State’s two major colleges have a friendlier, more brotherly relationship than the animosity that too often festers like a slag pile.
“That is outstanding,” said Jeff Waggoner, veteran Marshall baseball coach. “I think it’s great for the state. Why wouldn’t it be great for the state? Tell me that. Nothing against bordering programs like Morehead State or some team in Maryland, but why wouldn’t we want to play each other?
“When I was at N.C. State we played everybody. You played East Carolina, you played High Point ... you played the other Division I programs in your state.
“If you’re worried about losing to another program, you shouldn’t be in any competitive sports.
“I don’t know what else to say other than it’s just great for our state.”
Nothing else needs to be said except it’s gratifying that such baseball coaches as Waggs and WVU’s Randy Mazey along with MU men’s soccer coach Chris Grassie and his WVU counterpart Dan Stratford understand competing against each other is indeed good for West Virginia.
Let’s hope they can spread the word.