Beyond the 314-foot right field fence that separates Foley Field from the outfield bleachers perches a quaint house with a history rooted in Georgia baseball. The Green House, and those who occupy it, are synonymous with Foley.
On the back hangs a banner that reads “Let the Big Dawg Eat.” The lettering is faded, yet the message remains visible, even from the press box.
“That’s been there since I was ever here,” Green House resident and UGA junior Nathaniel Aiken said of the banner. “That thing has seen some baseball.”
So has the house.
Atop a kudzu-covered hill, the Green House is a proverbial Mecca for fans seeking an altered gameday experience. On any given weekend, between 50-150 friends and family members fill the backyard to cheer on the Bulldogs.
Georgia’s Southeastern Conference standing and current 26-11 overall record could position the Bulldogs to make an NCAA Regional for the first time since 2019. With nine home games left this season, fan turnout should play an advanced role in providing an energized atmosphere.
“Yeah, I think any time you can get a lot of fans and students to the field to make noise, that always helps us,” said outfielder Connor Tate, who started 47 games in the right field in 2021. “I always had a good relationship with the guys up there. ”
Aiken and his roommate, William Gladden, also a junior at UGA, are the most recent pairing in a lineage of friends that have passed down the residence for six consecutive years.The house’s existence and origin of tradition run well beyond both occupants memory. Neither grew up a baseball fan, but since their move, have grown to embrace everything Georgia baseball.
“You wake up and open up the blinds, and the lights are on and the team is practicing, so it’s kind of hard not to get into it,” Gladden said.
With two bedrooms, one bathroom and no dishwasher, the Green House isn’t the image of luxury that many students seek in off-campus living. But for these two, the house’s place in Georgia sports lore is an appealing feature.
“It’s a privilege more than anything else, and not everybody gets the opportunity to live here,” Gladden said. “It’s one thing to live in a place like the Mark with a rooftop pool and all those amenities, but 1,000 other people are sharing that experience with you. Here, I’m sharing this with just [Nate]. ”
According to Aiken, it’s the best view in Athens.
From its hilltop precipitation, the house offers an obscured view of the field’s scoreboard. Instead, the backyard features a chalkboard to record score, inning and outs. A weathered couch on a crude deck is raised on wooden risers to optimize viewing angle. A soggy yet sturdy cornhole set lies aside for mid-inning entertainment.
It’s a scattered scene, but each object serves a purpose in a mission to push the Bulldogs to victory.
“It’s got a bit of its own personality more than anything else,” Gladden said. “That’s probably the biggest appeal for it, as far as where people spend the majority of their time, I think it would look a little bland without it.”
Not only does it host hundreds of students on weekend games, it also has a Twitter account titled “The Grand Green House Hotel,” with just under 2,000 followers.
Preparation for the incoming opposition begins weeks in advance, Gladden said. Tables are arranged, banners are hung, and research on the opposing right fielder commences. Developing the perfect heckle, a trademark of Green House frequenters, takes effort. Both Aiken and Gladden said they believe the crowds can have a tangible effect on the game.
“There’s an art to it, you have to be creative, so you can’t just come out here and say anything… but we’re taking credit for every error that happens in the right field,” Aiken said.
And although the house has developed a rowdy and at times ruthless reputation, Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin and his players acknowledged its presence on Kudzu Hill as positive.
“You know I think they are always heard up there and that can make a difference,” head b baseball coach Scott Stricklin said. “But I also remember a class act in 2016, when they supported Charleston Southern right fielder Chris Singleton, whose mother had passed away in the church shooting in Charleston the year before. They were stand-up guys to him, and they cheered him when he hit a home run. ”
Given Georgia’s series sweep against Florida and the looming conference tournament which begins May 24, baseball fever is at a peak in Athens. The crowds at the Green House won’t be going anywhere.
“I really have enjoyed getting to watch baseball grow here because it obviously doesn’t get as much love and appreciation as football, but the guys are out there busting a ** and wearing the same colors that we wear,” Gladden said. “It’s fun to just get behind them and support them.”