Every baseball field has a distinct personality beyond its 60 feet, six inches to the mound and its 90 feet separating each base, shining with the life of its history, its environment, and its fans. This weekend marks the start of the 2019 college baseball season, and the most spirited and unique fan sections in the country will be ready.
For decades, there was nothing like the Left Field Lounge at Dudy Noble Field, where Mississippi State Bulldogs baseball fans parked their trucks behind the left field wall and watched the game from up top, grilling away. A two-year renovation at Dudy Noble Field concluded entering this season, with an outfield concourse in place of the Left Field Lounge, featuring just shy of 100 lounge spaces, and the new Left Field Lofts, two-bedroom condos overlooking the diamond. Still, expect those rowdies to continue their participation in Bulldogs games.
Left field remains primary grilling real estate at the University of Arkansas. Baum-Walker Stadium at George Cole Field in Fayetteville features the renowned Hog Pen, a grassy lawn in left-center where the faithful pack in to grill, drink, throw around a football, and cheer on their Razorbacks.
At the University of Mississippi, Swayze Field’s Swayze Crazies set up in Right Field, purposefully capitalized as the name of their domain. The Swayze Crazies celebrate every Rebel home run with a festive beer shower, dance and fist-pump to “Love is Gone” in the middle of the fifth inning, and exchange a warm-up ball with the center fielder with scrawled questions for him to answer, in addition to whatever else the students see fit to add, including pictures.
East Carolina University Clark-LeClair Stadium is the home of the Williams Jungle–or simply, The Jungle–a relatively narrow elevated grassy berm that stretches up toward the trees that border the ballpark. It is these trees that inspired the moniker; they presented a thick border between the parking lot and field, forcing an obscured leafy view for all tailgaters.
And then there are the Havocs at Brazell Field at GCU Ballpark, who contend with the opposite side of the environmental spectrum. The home of the Grand Canyon Antelopes features a mountainous backdrop, and with a 2018 renovation, the team benefitted with one of the rowdiest student sections in all of NCAA baseball.
Plenty of other universities have boisterous students at hand–Clemson, University of South Carolina, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, to name a few–and as more schools put an emphasis on baseball ballparks, you can expect interest to keep rising in the college game.
Image courtesy Ole Miss Baseball.
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