Jameis Winston plays in first game since seafood heist

5/7/2014

By Brian Schmitz

By Brian Schmitz

Orlando Sentinel

DELAND, Fla. (MCT) — Other than a police presence in the dugout, scalpers outside the stadium and the unusual crowd control ... well, yeah, it was just another college baseball game.

The Stetson Hatters faced Florida State on Tuesday night at quaint Conrad Park, losing to the Seminoles 9-4.

They were all extras in the Jameis Winston show.

The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and Publix Enemy No. 1 brought his golden arm and tarnished reputation to Melching Field, attracting a crowd of 2,883 (capacity is 2,500), the fourth largest in Stetson history.

The place was overflowing to see Winston, a relief pitcher who was reinstated with the baseball team last Sunday after the Publix shoplifting caper.

They didn't even need to hold Red Lobster Night to fill the seats. Stetson historians don't ever recall scalpers appearing at the ballpark, but at least one guy was asking $25 for a $10 general-admission ticket.

Most Seminole supporters were behind Winston, although C.J. Scott of Deltona said, "Jameis needs to get it together. He keeps getting into trouble and I don't think we got a back-up who can win us games."

Whether Winston can avoid anymore sacks is now the storyline for the Seminoles.

Appropriately enough, he got out of a jam in his first bullpen appearance in 11 days. Although the Seminoles had the game in hand, a rusty Winston committed an error covering first to put two runners aboard and gave up a run.

If Winston's linemen protect him as well as FSU's public relations department did Tuesday, he might repeat as a national champion.

Jameis was not available to the media, even ESPN. There also was the advisory that Seminoles baseball coach Mike Martin would not discuss Winston's latest incident that resulted in the two-sport athlete serving 20 hours of community service.

After the game, though, Martin said that Winston has handled the scrutiny because, "He's one of those guys that has 'it.' He's not going to do anything to cut himself short."

An FSU campus policeman stood by Winston's side about a half-hour before the game — and he was probably happy to see a cop this time.

He spent a good 20 minutes signing autographs near the third-base line. Fans gathered in a corner of the concourse. They dropped all kinds of items down to Winston for him to sign, some falling on top of him — hats, footballs, baseballs and a helmet.

"It's crazy," said FSU outfielder Josh Delph. "I feel like I'm traveling with a rock star."

It was as close as fans could get to No. 44.

They normally can congregate before a game near a railing by the bullpen, but not with Winston in town.

A FSU spokesman said the cop started traveling with the team this season to offer crowd control and run interference for Jameis.

Winston, 20, was reminded on this smaller stage of the hot water the stolen seafood got him into.

One guy actually brought crab legs to the game, waving them toward him above the dugout. A photo of it appeared on Twitter.

It's good prep for what awaits Jameis in the football season, when the amateur hecklers on the road will come out in full throat. They now have way too much material.

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