Birmingham-Southern's baseball team flooded with funds for World Series trip as school sets to close

CLEVELAND (AP) — The baseball team soon to be without a school has a growing fan base.

Birmingham-Southern’s inspiring, unexpected journey has won over some hearts.

The Panthers, who have kept their season alive as their school is on the brink of shutting down for good on Friday, have captured interest with supporters raising over $100,000 to enhance their trip to the Division III World Series.

As of Wednesday morning, a GoFundMe page had grown to $105,000 with an anonymous donor giving $2,500.

Trey Hines, the sports information director for the school from Birmingham, Alabama, for at least a few more days, said the support has been overwhelming.

“It's been crazy,” Hines said by phone.

Before taking a chartered flight to Cleveland, the team gathered Wednesday at Birmingham-Southern one last time for a light workout.

Birmingham-Southern advanced to the World Series in Eastlake, Ohio, on Saturday despite the team being flattened by what was initially thought to be food poisoning. Two players had to be hospitalized and others received fluid intravenously behind the dugout during the Panthers' win over Denison.

Coach Jan Weisberg said the sweeping illness was a strand of norovirus.

Following Saturday’s 7-6 win that clinched the World Series berth, three more players got sick, including slugger Ian Hancock. Weisberg is hoping his team has weathered the worst of the 24-to-48 hour stomach bug.

“Just looking at the roster it can’t be too many more,” Weisberg told “I think we’re able to get ahead of it now at least because we know what it is. The team doctor says it presents itself like food poisoning. That’s why we initially thought it was food poisoning.”

The NCAA is paying their travel expenses to get to Ohio and home, but the added money can go toward other expenses like rings to honor the Panthers making it out of the Super Regional. The remaining funds are planned to go to the coaching staff.

On Friday, Birmingham-Southern will play on the same day that the private liberal arts college, founded in 1856, closes due to financial problems. Unable to secure a $30 million loan, school officials voted in March to shut down.

The Panthers have been swinging since — going 19-4 since the decision — and if they keep winning, they’ll be the only thing keeping Birmingham-Southern in existence.

They’ll open the double-elimination tournament — hosted by the Lake County Captains, one of the Cleveland Guardians’ minor league affiliates — against No. 2 seed Salve Regina (Rhode Island) on Friday.


AP college sports:

Tom Withers, The Associated Press