under construction

under construction

March 31, 2011

Old School Scoreboard

The final seconds tick off Sanford Stadium's old scoreboard of a 29-28 victory over Georgia Tech in 1978, while a Bulldog brandishing a board with a nail keeps watch.

I was checking out what Sanford Stadium's new H-D scoreboard is going to look like and I instantly recalled an article I read not too long ago.  The piece, written just prior to the Bulldogs' home opener of the 1980 season, was on stadium improvements made in anticipation of the venue's expansion for 1981.      

The most "obvious change in the appearance of the stadium," the article stated, was the relocation of the scoreboard from the east to the west end zone overlooking Sanford Bridge.  It seems the old scoreboard was going to get in the way of an additional 18,000 seats. 

In addition, no longer would "Georgia" and "Visitors" be painted on the scoreboard.  Instead, each team's name would be featured "in lights" - an innovative improvement at the time but seems somewhat humorous when compared to today's "high-def."

I'm too young to remember the old Sanford Stadium scoreboard that was perched in the east end zone but have certainly heard the legend of its board-toting Bulldog.  There have been several accounts on how the Bulldog-and-board emblem came about, including a good post by Bill King just prior to the 2009 LSU game.  Here is what I know:

A near-perfect LSU Tiger team came to Athens in mid-November of 1935 along with 2,000 of its supporters (a total of 20,000 would be in attendance for the game), 1,200 of which were ROTC cadets from the school.

The visiting throng would not be disappointed as LSU blanked the Bulldogs 13-0; the first touchdown scored on a 95-yard run by Jess Fatherree "on a variation of the old 'Statue of Liberty' play." Reportedly, the margin should have been much worse as the Tigers had a 358-61 advantage in total yardage and 15-2 in first downs.

As the legend goes, more than 1,000 LSU cadets stormed the field as soon as the game ended with intent to tear down one, maybe even both, of the goal posts. This action was certainly not welcomed nor anticipated by Sanford Stadium.  When the stadium had been built more than six years earlier, based on good behavior by spectators in the past, expensive metal goal posts were constructed instead of ones made of wood, assuming they would not soon be destroyed and needing to be replaced.

Nonetheless, the UGA students protected their uprights and chased the cadets all the way to the train station on College Avenue. Legend has it that the Bulldog backers grabbed boards from a nearby construction site in defense of the goal posts... thus, the logo of a Bulldog holding a board atop of the old scoreboard.

However, UGA icon and historian Dan Magill has written that the unruly Tigers were chased to the station with not boards, but miniature Hanna baseball bats given away at the game. Magill adds that he, at 14 years old, was even along for the chase, brandishing a bat himself.

Personally, I like the version featuring the boards better; it seems a little more "blue collar."

I found that soon after the skirmish, LSU's student newspaper - The Daily Ravielle - declared that not only had some of its cadets suffered "split open" heads, but it was also evident UGA students had "used knives" in the fight.

I certainly don't doubt Magill's version of the story, but I wonder if those "knives" were actually nails protruding from boards carried by some Bulldog students, who were only doing what most of us would in similar circumstances - protecting their "house"...and its goal posts.


Granitedawg said...

Old scoreboard is now in The Granite Bowl in Elberton, Ga.

Given to local Bulldog Club who had it moved to Elberton and installed in The Granite Bowl.
Works fine


Anonymous said...

Granitedawg- i think the old scoreboard thats in Elberton is the one that came AFTER the bulldog/board scoreboard. It was the one GA had during the 80s and said "Bulldog Terrortory" at the bottom.

The scoreboard in the blog is behind Loco's off Baxter (or it use to be).

Oh, and as always, great blog Pat.

Anonymous said...

Really good article. Here is a link to the Granite Bowl: http://www.elbert.k12.ga.us/ecchs/granitebowl/granitebowl.html

Unknown said...

I liked on the EDSBS blog their description of the Bulldog's weapon as a "Redneck Schilaleah".

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Unknown said...

Yes, the old Bulldog with the board scoreboard that now resides near the corner of S. Harris and Peabody (minus the Bulldog and board, which someone absconded with) held court in Sanford Stadium from 1961-1978, the famous 29-28 Tech game being its last. The scoreboard was replaced in 1979 but in the same location by the one which eventually made its way to Elbert County's stadium. That same scoreboard did switch to the East end zone at the beginning of the '80 season.

I loved that old scoreboard!