Thursday, November 8, 2012

SxSE: Yardcocks

Photo by Ron Cogswell
Carolina Stadium
Fish Story (Gamecock Central)
South Carolina is winning again.

Which means that it's time for a new fad.

Two years after the Avatar Spirit Stick and one year after gettin' crunk, the No. 9 Gamecocks have a new rallying point. After beating Auburn 11-7 on Sunday to sweep the series, giving them eight straight SEC wins and four straight series wins to climb within two games of first place in the league, USC went public with its new motto.

"Fear the Fish."

Don't be surprised if the Gamecocks suddenly start meeting teammates at the plate after a home run with a hand placed perpendicular on their heads, looking like a dorsal fin. Don't also be surprised if relief pitcher Patrick Sullivan is toting a small plastic container to the bullpen before every game, carrying it more delicately than the two national championship trophies when carried by staffers to the center field display case.
. . .
The pet is a betta fish named Reptar. Small enough to fit in the palm of one's hand, his temporary home in Auburn was in a Tupperware container. The Gamecocks' relief crew took care of him in the Plainsman Park bullpen during the series.

Dantzler walloped two home runs during the series as part of five hits and four RBIs, with several more great defensive plays at third. The Gamecocks won all three games.

If the fish wasn't a mascot before, he is now. Never mess with a winning streak.
♦ has a long list of quotes from fans and blogs about the atmosphere at USC Baseball games at old Sarge Frye Field
"As a child in the 60s, my parents would take my brother Hastings and I to the weekend baseball games. There were no buildings that I remember, just the field and grassy hills surrounding the field. We would take lawn chairs and cardboard boxes. During part of the game, my brother and I would "sled" down the grassy knolls until our boxes disintegrated. Then we would watch the game and eat hot dogs, boiled peanuts and a bottle of Coke. This was how I became a Gamecock baseball fan and lover of boiled peanuts! These were the treasured memories of my childhood and we looked forward to our weekend jaunts to the baseball games. When we didn't go, I remember my dad with his transistor radio, listening to the games in earnest. We never bothered him when they were on! Go Gamecocks!"

"My favorite memories of Carolina baseball and Sarge Frye Field go back to the spring of 1981 - my senior year. We sat right behind the visitors' dugout where we took our place among those irreverant souls known as the 'World-Famous Third Base Hecklers'. No visiting team was safe. When a pitching coach would walk out to the mound, we'd chant quietly, "walk, walk, walk..." until he got there. Then the chant changed to "talk, talk, talk..." until he started back to the dugout when the chant returned to "walk, walk, walk..." We once chanted the name of a visiting pitcher after he was relieved so intensely that he came out of the dugout and took a bow. Of course, we wanted him back out on the mound. Then there was the night that Etienne Farquharson hit one that I swear went over the left field lights. Those were great days."

♦ The USC Gamecocks baseball team is commonly referred to as the Yardcocks.

♦ 10 Reasons USC won the CWS Title (Gamecock, May 2011)

Check out the whole list, but here's #10:
10. Road Success: USC is 31-4 at Carolina Stadium, which is impressive enough and a significant reason the Gamecocks are the No. 1 seed for the SEC Tournament. However, any SEC team is truly tested when they go on the road and few teams in the league can match USC's success in opposing ballparks: four victories in five conference series and a 10-5 SEC road mark. That's why they're regular season champs. 
Here's the quirky stat of the season: USC won 66.7 percent of their SEC road games this season, but went only 2-3 against Palmetto State opponents in their ballparks, including losses at Clemson, Furman and The Citadel to start 0-3 before posting wins at College of Charleston and Wofford to finish with a .400 winning percentage in road games against SC schools. Clearly, USC stepped up when it matered most, and that's against SEC opponents.
♦ How big is Gamecock Baseball in Columbia, SC?
2,000 fans showed up for a pre-season 7-inning intra-squad scrimmage in January, 2012 
USC baseball isn’t too far behind football right now. The university has already sold nearly a thousand more season tickets than this time last year, setting an all-time high. 
That puts the total well over 5,000 for a beautiful park that holds around 8,500. 
That means there won’t be a lot of walk-up seats available this season, something that doesn’t happen at hoops games.

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