As I noted a few months ago, Dawgs fandom tends to be a family thing, handed down from generation to generation, and a lot of us owe our initial UGA exposure to our fathers.
Last year, for Father’s Day, I paid tribute to my own father, William D. King, a lifelong Dawg, and wrote about how he nurtured a love of the Bulldogs in me and my brothers, Jon and Tim.
I noted then that many of my favorite memories of my father involve the Georgia Bulldogs in some way. The same goes for my son, Bill, who used to sit with his grandfather after games while his uncles and I went to get the car. One particular game stands out: “I remember after Clemson game in 2003, Papa and I hung out and that was only time he ever told war stories. He spoke about the war very rarely, but he went in at length about his experiences in Europe” during World War II.
As for memorable games with me, young Bill particularly recalls when he took me to the 2009 Tech game in Atlanta, “where we had no expectation of winning, and yet we did, and we sat in a rowdy Georgia fan section” at Grant Field. Ah, yes, a favorite memory.
Speaking of which, when asked his favorite Bulldog memory, my youngest brother, Tim, answered: “Going to football games with Pop.”
Indeed, a common memory among many UGA fans that I’ve heard from over the years is that their fathers took them to their first Dawgs football game.
So, this year, I thought I’d share stories from some of the Junkyard Blawg’s readers about their own Dawg Daddies. …
After I wrote last month about the Georgia-Clemson rivalry, I got a note from Lance Hollis about his father, Thomas G. Hollis III (UGA class of ’68), who passed on last September. He wrote:
“Reading your stroll down memory lane brings very fond memories of time with my Daddy in Sanford Stadium, staked out by the radio, or squarely seated in front of the TV on fall afternoons and evenings. Dad took me to my first UGA game when I was 9, and it was the same day Herschel made his home debut in a crushing defeat of the A&M Aggies. My second game was a 41-0 blowout of Vanderbilt, and I quickly acquired an expectation of UGA winning all games I attended by a 40-something to nothing tally. It was a notion further cemented as my third trip to Sanford was the ’81 opener against UT, which UGA won 44-0. Alas, the trend did not hold …
“One of my favorite memories was the ’80 UGA-UF game. We were watching at home on TV when my Dad’s best friend, a very stoic and quiet man, who was as much a second father to me as any man could be to a boy (and also so pessimistic he made Munson an out and out optimist) leapt to his feet — Fred did not leap, or run, or hurry, ever — and repeated, ‘Oh, sh*t’ over and over as Lindsay scrambled to the end zone. I realized that day that UGA football makes grown men behave out of the ordinary.”
Lance also noted that he’s having a tough time preparing to watch the 2021 season “without my Daddy by my side. My two boys will be with me, however, and we’ll continue on with our tradition, even though there will be moments when I think to ask Daddy about this or that. I am thankful for the many, many game days I had with him. But, if I could have one more, it would be hard to pick anything better that what’s coming Sept 4th of this year.”
When I solicited UGA-related father stories on Facebook, I quickly heard from Nita Woods Walls Norton, who recalled that her father was a big UGA fan, and the family lived on Pinecrest Drive in Athens, across the street from what is now Foley Field.
“The land across the street was swamp until the University began construction of the baseball field,” she said. “At that time, the Dawgs were playing baseball on a field on Rutherford. Daddy would take me over there to watch games. When the Dawgs began playing baseball on the new field, there were only some bleachers. He also took me to the Coliseum to watch UGA basketball.”
In later years, she recalled, “As Daddy’s health began to decline, he would take a lawn chair down the driveway to watch baseball games.”
I also heard from Jackson Huckaby, whose dad, Darrell, is a longtime Georgia fan (and newspaper columnist in Athens) who frequently contributes memories to the Blawg.
Jackson said that their dad planted in them a love of following the Dawgs on the road. “If I had to pin it to one day, it would be the game at Auburn in 2002,” he said. “We did not plan on going, because we could not afford tickets, but that morning Daddy woke us up and threw us in the car to take us anyway. His seats were about 15 rows higher than ours, but when Michael Johnson caught [David] Greene’s pass, we out of nowhere were immediately swept up in his arms to celebrate with him. There have only been a handful of games since that day that at least one of us was not at to bear witness.”
Not surprisingly, I also heard from their dad, Darrell, who shared Georgia football memories of his own father. One example was when he was a freshman at UGA and had a ticket to the game against Tech. However, he and his father “had listened to that game every year of our lives, and so when I woke up on Saturday morning, I didn’t feel right about being inside the stadium without him. I borrowed a friend’s car — I didn’t have one — and drove home to Porterdale to listen to the game with him.”
Until his father died in 1988, Darrell said, “I would call him after every game and discuss what had happened.” After the 1980 comeback win over Florida, “I called Daddy from the Pier and, as soon as he answered, I said, ‘How ‘bout them Dogs!” He said, “Yeah. How ‘bout ‘em! They blew their chance to be number one. Did you know that Tech tied Notre Dame?’
“I said, “Daddy, did you watch the end of the Georgia game?”
“He said, ‘No. I was too disgusted. I turned it off when Buck ran out of bounds at the 7 with a minute left.’
“I chuckled and said, ‘You probably should have listened to one more play.’”
Even though Georgia didn’t win, Cory Organ remembers with fondness attending the 2011 SEC Championship Game with his father, Les Organ, and encountering a well-known fan, the late Mike “Big Dawg” Woods (an Athens High School classmate of mine) and his famous painted bald head.
Malinda Teasley Erwin, who sits in front of us in Section 104 at Sanford Stadium, remembers that, although they tailgated together before games (“My Mom made the best fried chicken and tomato sandwiches!”), she and her parents didn’t sit together. “We sat on opposite sides of Sanford Stadium.”
But, when they drove to the Sugar Bowl in 1976, “we sat together at that game. Our seats were so high up and steep, we were all afraid to stand up. There was an ice storm predicted after the game. My Daddy made us all leave New Orleans right after the game was done. Daddy was like that at the home games, too … he would leave the game with 2-3 minutes left, no matter the score. He wanted to get out of Athens before the crowd left.”
Those days are “such great memories,” she said. “I still have my Dad’s red jacket and hat he wore to the Georgia games.”
And then there’s John Cannon, whose father, Richard, attended the first game ever held in Sanford Stadium, after riding the train to Athens from Atlanta at age 13. He later was a “scrub” on one of Wally Butts’ teams, his son said, and “We began getting UGA season tickets for both home and away games in 1966. This stopped when I buried my dear 90-year-old father in 2007.
“My father and I attended more than 500 UGA games together. … At every single UGA game, home and away, my father always sat to my left. Always. Right before every opening kickoff, this was our ritual: I would hold my father’s right hand and kiss him on his forehead and tell him ‘Dad, I love you.’ We continued holding hands until the kickoff was over.
“I miss this more than I can say.”
Michael Scharff’s dad, Dr. Louis Scharff III, is still around, at age 88. He graduated from UGA in 1955, his son said, and “he was a cheerleader his senior year. He attended every UGA Homecoming cheerleading reunion until last year. Until he had back surgery 6 years ago, he used to run one of the flags at Homecoming when the cheerleaders would lead the team out to the field.
“He has been a season ticket holder since he graduated, and up until about 10 years ago, he had gone to every game, both home and away, for over 50 years. We attended many memorable games together, including the national championship in 1980, the Arizona State game, the Colorado game, and the first game in Columbia against Missouri. My Dad is as big a Dawgs fan as they come!”
Reader David Elliott recalls his father, Billy Elliott, taking him and his brother to their first Georgia football game: Nov. 2, 1968, against Houston at Sanford Stadium. “Mike Cavan and Charley Whittemore hooked up for several first down pass plays as Jim McCuollough kicked the game-tying field goal to make it 10-10. That would be the final score that beautiful Saturday in Athens.
“I’ve been trekking to Athens in the fall for going on 53 years. Dad loved his boys and loved the Bulldogs and loved that his boys love the Bulldogs!”
Another fan whose father took him to his first game is George Thames. “My dad was born in 1916,” he said. “He never went to college, but took me to my first Georgia game in 1967. I saw Ronnie Jenkins at fullback and smelled bourbon for the first time.”
He said his father was known as “Big George” and he was “Little George,” and they attended games together for 25 years, including a game at Clemson, where his father “went into their bookstore and started barking.”
Finally, let’s wind this up on a humorous note. Bill Andrews shared a photo of his father, John Andrews, preparing to take him and his brother Mark (both UGA grads) to Jacksonville to watch the Dawgs beat Florida 23-10 in 1987.
Bill also shared a story:
“We were well fortified with Daddy’s famous vodka Sprite,” he said. “The tasty elixir was enjoyed by many and kept secret from my Mother for over 30 years. She drank Cokes and could not understand why everyone else drank Sprite.”
Thanks, everyone for sharing your memories. And thanks to all our dads for bringing us up right!