Sunday, October 26, 2014

Guest Post

Promoted from comments to the main page... Our Man Virgil Xenophon.
HOW I GOT TO SEE FOOTBALL GAMES IN TIGER STADIUM FOR FREE 1971-1972

When I left the Air Force and landed at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, 90 miles from Baton Rouge, I wondered how I was going to get to see my beloved Tigers play during football season as all games weren't televised like they are now and, as I was no longer a student, and season tickets sold out annually, even scalped tickets were hard to come by. SOooo...like any good ex-military guy, I devised a plan.

It so happens that those years were the years when the student culture was changing and in flux (not to mention the national one). Whereas in the early '60s all male students and adults wore a suit & tie to Tiger games and women their best dress, the culture was changing to casual wear. The only people who wore suits were news/sports reporters and LSU Admin officials. So I devised a plan to blend in in order to sneak into the press box.

First, I dressed in a suit, with a set of binoculars hanging around my neck and carried a clip-board to fake the sports-writer bit. Then I would head to the check-in point where the sports reporters got their credentials. In those days Tiger stadium was a one-story oval seating 68,000 before they added the upper deck slabs and the southern end-zone curved 2nd deck. It was a far simpler time. Usually two guys sat at a folding card table just outside the perimeter gate with a couple of shoe-boxes full of 3X5 cards used to verify reporters, and the double gates were hugely wide (to allow for trucks, etc.).
What I would do is hang back until I saw a gaggle of around 10 or more reporters gathered around the officials and otherwise occupying their attention. I would sidle up to the back of the crowd as if to get my Press Pass, then slide to the side when attention was diverted and walk right by thru the gates and on up to the elevator door to the Press Box as if I belonged and up I would go. Once there where I sat depended. If the games were against teams that were not traditional opponents and from far away so that there was little fan interest (like, say, Wisconsin) there would be few out-of-town reporters and so I could sit right at the reporters desk row and watch the entire game from the 50 yard line! Of course when trad opponents like Ole Miss, Alabama or Auburn came calling the Press Box would be packed with legit reporters. What then? Well, PLAN B was to take the back stairs/fire-escape from the Press Box down the elevator tower to the point where it opened as a one-way door out onto the top rung of the stadium seats beneath the Press Box. All seats usually being occupied, I usually then sat on the top step underneath the Press Box on the 50 yard line. Again, a great vantage point even if the seating was a bit "hard." LOL I did this for every home game for two years!

Special Note: On the night of the Ole-Miss-LSU "one second" game I arrived a little early.  Sooo, it being early there was still room in the Press Box proper, so I thought I'd take in a bit of pre-game warm-ups, ceremonies, etc., before heading down-stairs and out into the stadium. Unfortunately, I had had too much to drink at the fraternity house before hand, so passed out face down. A security guard eventually tapped me on the shoulder and said "Nice try, son," and escorted me down and out of the stadium. Not to be deterred, however, I planned a "re-attack" in the best Air Force tradition by repeating my performance (what are the odds?) a second time only heading directly for the stadium exit door before anyone could detect me and thus I was there to watch a very thrilling and historic last-second come-back win for my Bayou Bengals!
Virgil has been threatening for well over a year to become something like a co-blogger here at EIP. I took the liberty of promoting his comment from "All's Well" and calling it a "guest post" to encourage him to deliver more stories like this.  Further encouragement from you Gentle Readers would be appreciated.

(I did a couple o' minor edits and added the photo.)

14 comments:

  1. LOL, great story! And truly a different time!!!

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    1. "And truly a different time!!!"

      Yes, the events of 9/11 alone have dictated hugely stricter security protocols at all university stadiums which alone would pretty much preclude replication of my "achievements." And also additions to the physical plant at Tiger Stadium have made entry and exit much more complicated than was the case in the days when the stadium was in its original configuration. Sigh...."the good 'ole days" lol--or as the Indian saying goes: "You can never dip your toe in the same stream twice." :)

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  2. Pretty sneaky, Virgil. I like it!

    I thought my step-kid's idea was pretty good, but yours tops it. My stepson was with his buddy at the Civil War (Oregon State vs. Oregon rivalry game) w/o a ticket. They got in line to go through the turnstile and the guy asked for their tickets.

    "You got 'em?"
    "No, I thought *you* had them!"
    "Oh no, my dad forgot to give them back to me!"
    "Ah crap, there he is!"
    "Dad!!! Dad!"
    "He can't hear us, what are we gonna do?"
    "OK, OK, I'll let you two through."

    It was completely sold out so they pretty much had to just wander around the whole time.

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    1. THAT'S a great ploy, too, Inno.

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  3. Whenever I see a comment from Virgil, I know I'm about to read something interesting. Sometimes amusing, sometimes educational, but always interesting.

    C'mon Virgil, be a co-blogger! Your fan base calls!

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    1. I used to look forward to his commentary on Surber's old blog as well, of course, as Lex's.
      So, one more c'mon VX!

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    3. @ Juvat:: thank ya, Sir.

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  4. My own way was to carry a radio for the Emergency Medical Support teams in the stadium during the games. They were looking for volunteers to hang out in various sections of the stadium and be prepared to radio for medical support for fans that suffered accidents or cardiac arrest. Standing was required though we had pretty much free range of half the stadium.

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    1. That's public service, Curt. Ya done good.

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  5. Excellent story. And well-told.

    As much as I love you, Buck, if you want to Promote Virgil, it would be a smart move. You may recall I did that a few years back with a friend of mine who went by the handle "Cricket". His posts were always entertaining and he went on to start his own blog (which, unfortunately, he hasn't kept up - and I truly weep about that because he could write circles around me. And my ego doesn't allow for such praise to be easily earned, as you know.)

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    1. I followed Cricket's blog and was sad to see it go dark. As you say, the man can WRITE.

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