Tropolitan column: True fans cheer ‘Give ’em hell Troy’

Published 8:58 am Tuesday, April 9, 2013

ICYMI, here is the column I wrote for the Tropolitan’s Cardinal Rule baseball edition that came out March 26. Troy baseball and its fan base was build around the rivalry with Jacksonville State. Troy plays the Gamecocks tonight at 6 p.m. at Riddle-Pace Field.

There are few things more American than baseball. The image of a young boy playing catch with his father can only be related to The United States and the American way.

Locally, the city of Troy is a baseball town. No one can say for sure when it became obsessed with baseball, but one could speculate that the university’s successes on the diamond had something to do with it.

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Troy University baseball has provided so much in the way of legend and lore over the decades. Wendell Stephens’ home run at midnight in the 1986 Division II World Series and West Georgia head coach Archie White being ejected and watching the remainder of the contest from the wooden bleachers with the legendary First Base Mafia are just two tales that have made Troy baseball so attractive and fascinating.

Stories based around Troy baseball are abundant and the community has grown to embrace them as their own claim to fame.

Sitting in the stands at a Troy home game you can hear plenty of those stories. Fans talking about the time when Auburn’s Bo Jackson hit a home run that flew over not only the right field fence but over University Avenue and onto the softball field that once neighbored Sartain Hall. Or, what about the year (2005) that Adam Godwin stole 84 bases, it was almost criminal.

As the First Base Mafia began to fade, the left field hooligans grew in number. Groups began popping up like Pierces’ Posse and Barry’s Boyz in respect to Troy head coach Bobby Pierce and the Voice of the Trojans, Barry McKnight. In 2006, the Trojans won 47 games and Riddle-Pace Field was buzzing. No opposing left fielder was safe from the heckling. If an opponent hit a home run, Troy left fielders – and shortstops for that matter – knew not to completely turn their attention back to the field of play until the ball was ferociously returned by a spirited fan.

Being a fan of Troy baseball takes far more skill than just being a student at the university or simply wearing cardinal and black, it’s about much more than that. To be a true Troy baseball fan, one must know the aforementioned stories by heart. A true fan must know who is warming up in the bullpen based on inning and situation not by uniform number. A true Troy fan thinks of Trojan baseball all week and is uncontrollably impatient on Friday mornings knowing that the weekend home series opens in a few hours.

“Whup Jax State” is a Troy baseball fans’ battle cry and “Give ‘em hell Troy” always follows the final notes of the National Anthem. Knowing that a Troy head coach really can stare down a rain cloud or having the passion to stand on top of a car to watch the Trojans battle Alabama in an NCAA Regional in Tuscaloosa are both prerequisites for being a Trojan baseball fan.

It isn’t a joke; it’s just what it takes to be a true Troy baseball fan.