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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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rAGgin’

 
 

THERE IS A STADIUM IN THE heart of Aggieland that competitors fear and fans love. A place where the regulars know each other by name. This field rings with sarcastic wit and sidesplitting heckling.
No, it is not Kyle Field. It’s the home of Fightin’ Texas Aggie Baseball – Olsen Field.
“The regulars are considered Raggies,” said Stephen Chesney, a senior political science major. “It’s not like the Reed Rowdies where there is actual membership. We don’t make T-shirts or anything like that.”
Chesney first attended baseball games in the spring of 2001 and has been to nearly every home game since.
“I started going to (Aggie) baseball games when I was a freshman, and the people sitting down on the front row said I could sit there as long as I was loud and didn’t say anything stupid,” Chesney said. “I’ve been to some other stadiums around the Big 12, and there is really nothing else like it.”
Chesney said Raggie lore suggests the heckling began in 1980 with a small group that sat on the first row of the student section usually reserved for the oldest Raggie members. Admittance to the front row is considered an honor, Chesney said.
“It’s suffocating. (Opposing teams) can say whatever they want, but the Raggies, they create the home field environment for Olsen Field,” said Texas A&M Baseball head coach Rob Childress.
Although this is Childress’ first year leading the Aggies, his previous job as assistant baseball coach at the University of Nebraska made him very familiar with the Raggies’ presence at Olsen Field.
“Coming in here for the last eight years as an assistant coach from another program, it’s the most suffocating environment in college baseball,” Childress said. “It’s one thing to have a group of students that come out and heckle and rag, but (Raggies) are the most coordinated group.”
Now at the helm of the Aggies, Childress said he is able to enjoy a different view of Olsen Field’s student section.
“Being in the third base dugout now and getting to see 2,000 to 4,000 students above the first base dugout, they’re into every pitch,” Childress said. “And the way they go about it as a group is pretty special to watch and to know that they’re pulling for us instead of against us.”
The Raggies have been known to show up en masse unexpectedly at road games.
“Down at the University of Houston we had more maroon in the stands than red,” Childress said. “That’s a good feeling to know when we travel the load that we do.”
The Raggies’ heckles are brought on by actions of players and coaches, such as making special effects noises for foul balls or asking a coach to touch a player’s butt.
“There are definitely times where you can really see that we have gotten into the players heads,” Chesney said. “Every now and then, especially with pitchers, if the pitcher is easily razzled, there’s been a couple of times when we have basically won the game.”
Childress said there is nothing that can get inside a pitcher’s head faster than the heckling of a motivated Raggie crowd.
“The game against Utah we pulled away, and their pitcher crumbled because of the (Raggies),” Childress said. “There is no doubt in my mind. You like to say it’s your players who are the ones who have to go out and do it, but it was created because of the 12th man. It makes us know that we are never out of a game, and that’s because of the Twelfth Man.”
Chesney said serious Raggies spend time looking through opposing teams biography information on the Internet trying to find personal info that might cause a crack in the player’s concentration. These heckles are not choreographed and allow an individual some personal creativity.
“The funniest ones you ever hear are when someone says something off the cuff, spur of the moment things,” Chesney said. “It’s according to the player. Maybe the player has something on his bio.”
Not everyone on campus is as proud of the Raggies as Chesney and Childress.
“I usually sit in the former student section, because I don’t want to a part of (The Raggies),” said Stephanie Vrazik, a senior English major. “You don’t feel like (heckling) is a part of the Aggie tradition.”
Vrazik feels heckling from the student section sets a poor example of Aggie traditions for visiting fans and teams. She has been attending games since she was a freshman and continues to sit along the first base line of Olsen Field.
“I just worry about what other people think when they see their team being heckled,” Vrazik said. “I don’t really care that they do it as long as I can sit somewhere else and don’t have to be a part of it.”
Others are attracted to heckling because of the heightened level of participation.
“I like all the heckling – when we get to heckle the first base coach, and the pitcher and the right fielder,” said Kyle Waak, a junior civil engineering major. “Aggie baseball games are just hilarious. Just the way that you go out there and everyone’s yelling – it’s all in good fun. I like how we keep ourselves involved by being obnoxious.”
While Waak is not a regular Raggie, friends from other schools have told him just how intimidating Olsen Field can be.
“I have a few friends from high school who play on the Baylor Baseball team who come up here, and they say A&M is one of the hardest places they play at,” Waak said.
Childress agreed.
“What the (Raggies) have created here is something special,” Childress said. “Our players appreciate everything they have created for this ballpark.”

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