I’m talking about “Reptar,” the Siamese Betta Fish that has lent a helping hand, uh, fin to South Carolina’s late-season run. Like the Gamecocks, he is Omaha-bound as the team’s unofficial mascot.
This true fish tale goes back mid-April, when the Gamecocks were struggling after suffering difficult one-run losses to instate foes College of Charleston and Division II Francis Marion.
USC third baseman LB Dantzler had another problem. He was supposed to fish-sit Reptar for his roommate that weekend but also had to travel with the team for a key SEC series at Auburn.
Dantzler decided to put poor Reptar in a Tupperware bowl and take him on the road trip. Dantzler homered in the opening game, the Gamecocks swept the Tigers and a good-luck charm was born.
Soon Reptar was at every game, now in a more fish-friendly tank that is perched on the dugout wall. Two hand-written pieces of medical tape say it all – “I am Reptar” and “#FeartheFish.”
With Reptar in the dugout, the Gamecocks rattled off eight straight victories, won 11 of their next 12 and then ran the table in their NCAA Regional and Super-Regional to reach the CWS.
On Wednesday, when the Gamecocks were given a warm farewell by fans, Reptar was already on the road in the back of the trainers’ truck, making a cross-country journey that none of his fish friends will ever believe.
But the important thing here is that the Gamecocks believe it. Baseball players are a superstitious sort (see the Rally Monkey) and, to paraphrase “Bull Durham,” if they believe they’re winning because of a fish, they are.
Let’s just hope Reptar survives the road trip and the Omaha heat, and that somehow Cocky the Rooster doesn’t somehow get within pecking range in the dugout. The Chicken Curse may be stronger than A Fish Called Reptar.