Thursday, October 25, 2012

SxSE: Sic 'em Dawgs

Foley Field
Photo by UGA College of Ag
Foley Field:
  • Opened: 1966
  • Capacity: 3,291
  • Named after: Judge Frank Foley, former ballplayer and donor
♦ The bulldogs' ballpark, Foley Field, is commonly referred to as Kudzu Hill, which is actually a hill past the outfield wall, where people gather to watch the game and that can get very rowdy.  The area used to be considered off-campus, which led to the liberal application of alcohol among the rowdy fans there.  The university has since declared Kudzu Hill to be university property, with no alcohol allowed, much to the consternation of some long-time fans.
The last couple of years during the Kudzu Hill glory days were some of my favorite times of my life. NOTHING beat skipping afternoon classes, taking bongs rips, heading up to Jimbo's for a 12 pack of High Life, and then sitting out there and listening to the brilliant Mack Williams heckle merciously. Those were the days(

Long before major leaguer Albert Belle sent some mischievous trick-or-treaters scurrying for cover outside his Ohio home, he was chasing fans up Kudzu Hill.

True story.

The year was 1987 and Belle, Joey as he was known back then, was playing right field for LSU in the SEC Championships being hosted by Georgia at Foley Field.

Beyond the fence, high atop the grassy-laden hill, a handful of rowdies began chanting the Tiger star's name. Belle took exception, and in the middle of the game, hopped the fence to seek his tormentors out.

He didn't catch them.

Other visiting players have received similar ''welcomes'' by the faithful on Kudzu Hill, home to Georgia's version of the Bleacher Bums who inhabit the left-field stands at Chicago's Wrigley Field. (Athens Online)
The View from a Fan (Online Athens)
Foley Field was not always the fine structure of concrete and steel it is today. It used to be a glorified sandlot. There were no lights. The concession stand was exactly that - a stand. The home fans sat on a compilation of bent steel, splintered wood and paint that chipped on your shorts so that you carried part of Foley home with you - and that was the good side of the stadium. The visitors' stands were half the size and a quarter of the quality.

I loved that old field, though. Every weekend featured a doubleheader. Between games, my friends and I would congregate underneath those rickety stands and we'd choose sides for a raucous game of cup ball. A crumpled red Coca-Cola cup and paper plates for bases were not too far from what the Bulldogs used, at least in our minds. Before we knew it, Game 2 would begin and we would trudge back to our seats and watch our heroes like Carter, Miller, Carpenter and Lilliquist work their magic.

In 1990, Foley Field was upgraded to what we see today. Looking back, I find it strange that the greatest team in school history battled through the SEC schedule in an empty stadium, as the construction lingered into the season. But my dad and I still watched. Perched high atop Kudzu Hill, we watched legends like Payne, Rebhan, Fleming and Showalter lead the Bulldogs to Omaha.
♦ Georgia is one of two SEC teams known as the Bulldogs (Mississippi State being the other). But hardly anyone calls them that. They are popularly known as the Dawgs.

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