Diamond Hogs remind us why we tailgate
As soon as we knew the game times for the Hogs’ regional, Greg and I began the planning. Two tents, a couple of tables, half a dozen chairs, bratwursts, beer, water and of course, some STV. In the age of acronyms, STV, or Sweet Tea Vodka, is a love language for Tusk to Tail. I bought all they had at three different stores around town and I had a few curious looks from the cashiers.
The excitement was high all last week leading up to the games around Fayetteville. I had people calling and texting from across the state wanting to be in the stadium, looking for tickets. It was as hard of a ticket to find as I can remember, perhaps since the Super Regionals against Ole Miss back in 2019.
Greg and I took no chances. We loaded up his truck with all of the gear on Thursday evening and pre-parked that night in the Cardinal lot at the spot we wanted. The weather was not looking good and had a decent chance of rain all weekend long, so we tried to pick a good spot that would drain but have some shade.
By the time we set up on Friday morning around 10:30, the parking lot east of Baum was just about full, the line to get into the Hog Pen was snaking around the corner of the outfield and well down the outfield sidewalk. Tents lined both sides of Razorback Road and the lot that leads into the main lot. Grills were smoking and every tent was full of eager fans. I had never seen anything like that in the 16 years I’ve been attending baseball games at Baum-Walker. Even Coach Muss was getting into the action for recruiting. Arkansas Basketball set up a tent across the street from us for the team and recruits to hang out, serving as a home base for both players and staff.
People had missed this in a big way over the past year. That much was clear as soon as the stadium was opened up to full capacity for the Florida series. But this was different. It was similar to walking into Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for the first time. The sights, the smells, the sounds, you just wanted to soak it all in and remember it for a lifetime. This was fun. This was living. Everyone just had big smiles and Woo Pigs for everyone they met.
Greg grilled the brats and dogs and I slung the drinks. We had quickly gathered a nice little crowd and as the game time approached, the drinks got stronger and the music got louder. The Hogs would pull out that win and we would do it all again the next two days.
Fortunately, Springdale sells liquor on Sundays as I had to get up there and buy more supplies for that day’s game. We were all hoping the Hogs would finish the deal in the 3 games, but of course that was not to be. We finally packed it all up on Sunday night around 11:30 and decided there would be no fourth day of tailgating. We all had to work, and frankly, we were exhausted.
Thankfully, Welch hit a monster home run on Monday night to clinch the game and send the Hogs to the Supers. As we walked to our cars on Monday night, the crazies from the Hog Pen were already setting their tents back up and getting in line for this Friday. As I write this now, there are at least 30 people sleeping on the sidewalk there to be sure to get their spots on Friday.
Greg and I have made our plans and will do our shopping Thursday. We plan to grab an early lunch and be set up by noon on Friday. In preparation, I’m not having anything to drink all week to rest up and be in the best shape I can for another potential three-day tailgate. The fun and laughs we will share with longtime friends and new friends are a big part of why we do what we do and will make this Fall even sweeter. So let’s go Hogs, give my liver a break and get it done in two!