Hold That Tiger (Stadium Remembrances)
Of the stadiums I have visited, probably the most lasting recollection I have is from the LSU Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. I don't know the name of the stadium but it wouldn't surprise me at all if it is Tiger Stadium because they do love that tiger at LSU.
In the early 60's, several couples joined me and my wife for the trip to Baton Rouge to watch the Heels take on the Tigers. We were feeling pretty good about our chances because we were coming off the Gator Bowl win against Air Force the previous year and we had some outstanding players returning, two of whom later made names for themselves in the NFL. Remember the names Chris Hanberger and Ken Willard? I believe both of them made the Pro Bowl. I know Ken Willard did but I'm not sure about Hanberger.
We went to New Orleans first and thoroughly enjoyed a few days in the "Big Easy". I don't think New Orleans was quite as rowdy back then as it is now but maybe it's me that has changed and not the city. This trip to New Orleans was much better than one I took in 1966 when I was involved in an automobile accident and suffered a broken jaw which required me to remain in New Orleans a little longer than I had planned. During the '64 visit I did get to see a site that I had imagined many times listening to football games on the radio. I'm speaking of the original Sugar Bowl Stadium. I even tried to recall exactly where the famous "lateral" took place from Joe Terashinski that ultimately decided the 1947 Sugar Bowl game in favor of Georgia over UNC. Remind me to tell you a story sometime about one of the officials in that 1947 game and his take on what took place. It will make you sick.
We really didn't come very close in the LSU game but the score was respectable, 20-3. The most vivid memories I have at the game are of the LSU cheerleaders rolling out a mobile cage with a live tiger in it. The cheerleaders kept "pickin" at the tiger until it finally slapped at the tormentor even though his paw could not penetrate the bars. When this happened the student section as well as the rest of the stadium erupted into pandemonium. It was then that I realized the objective of the exercise. The whole thing was intended to energize the crowd and it worked to perfection.
The other remembrance I have is of looking behind the small band of Tar Heel supporters who were seated at the game and seeing several Louisiana State Policemen strategically seated in a ring around the Carolina fans. It made me feel better until I began to wonder why this was necessary. I think I get it but it was a little disconcerting at the time.
Only other thing I can remember was the large number of people dressed in real cowboy garb in the lobby of the hotel prior to the game. I had never thought of Louisiana as "cattle country" but then again it borders Texas which we definitely think of as "cattle country. Funny thing about stereotypes.
I didn't see the chartered train that ran from New Orleans to within walking distance of the stadium but I have often thought that would be a neat way to travel to a football game Wait until I tell you about the chartered trains that used to travel to Chapel Hill. I have a little more research to do on that one.
Next time, Ohio State.