If you went to any weekend baseballgame at Sarge Frye Field this pastseason, you’d see Sir Big Spur - or,these days, Sir Big Spur II.
The 7-year-old, 8-pound roosterstrutted its stuff atop South Carolina’s dugout,flapping its wings and occasionally crowing, to thedelight of most (but not all) Gamecocks fans.
Watching Sir Big Spur II from Row 3, Seats 14-15, Mary Snelling and Ron Albertelli wore “Sir BigSpur Crew” T-shirts and basked in their featheredmascot’s celebrity. It wasn’t always so, however.
Four years ago, the Aiken couple fought a“Roostergate” battle with another fan, BartonDumas, over bringing the bird to games. Snelling,54, and Albertelli, 63, said they mustered 6,000supportive petition signatures, distributedfluorescent stickers backing their bird - andeventually won.
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“(Former athletics director) Mike McGee told meto my face, ‘You can bring the chicken,’ “ Snellingsaid. And they do.
The original Sir Big Spur (previously named“Cocky Doodle Lou” for then-football coach LouHoltz, it died at age 14) first appeared at Sarge Fryeafter Snelling had met Ray Tanner at a Dugout Club meeting. The 1976 USC graduate, given therooster by a friend, asked the coach if he’dmind it roof-roosting during games.
“Ray said, ‘If it’s not between the whitelines, I don’t care,’” she said. And a fowltradition was born.
On SEC weekends, Snelling and Albertellidrive to Columbia in their 40-foot motor home,towing a 24-foot “rooster roller” transport thatcarries a remote-controlled “gator” (electricpoweredtoy jeep), a 7-foot Cocky doll behindthe wheel and a cage on the back that housesSir Big Spur II
Cost of the bird’s ride: about $45,000,Albertelli said.
They’ve taken Sir Big Spur to the SECbaseball championship in Hoover, Ala., and tothe College World Series. But after the bird lefta “deposit” on the infield at Omaha’sRosenblatt Stadium, it was banned by thegroundskeeper.
“The guy said, ‘What if (Texas’ longhorn steer)Bevo wants in? We can’t let you in, either,’ “Albertelli said.
So now Sir Big Spur II arrives via pet carrier,emerging on its 3-foot tether to patrol the dugoutroof. Snelling keeps a thick scrapbook of thechicken’s clippings, including one from ESPN theMagazine.
“It’s crazy and funny,” she said.
Sir Big Spur II had no comment.
– Bob Gillespie