South Carolina baseball games will never sound the same.
Super fan Bill Golding died Friday morning. He was 84.
Golding, from Elgin, attended his first South Carolina football game in 1984. It was his presence at baseball games for more than 30 years that garnered a following of generations of Gamecocks fans.
A decorated hard hat and suspenders were only part of what made Golding so recognizable. His trademark “Oot! Oot!” catchphrase and outgoing personality made him part of the ballpark experience.
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The Gamecocks open the season next Friday without one of their biggest fans.
“It will definitely be different without Bill,” USC head coach Chad Holbrook said. “He was such a loyal fan. It was always good to know he was in our corner. He loved his baseball players, he loved our baseball program. It’s a big loss for us. We’re going to miss him dearly.”
Golding was fixture at Sarge Frye Field and later at Founders Park, rarely sitting down and often mingling with fans throughout games. He also was a regular at road games, including the SEC tournament in Hoover, Ala.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said via Twitter: “Bill was an annual SEC Baseball Tournament fixture. We’ll miss him!”
His impact on USC’s baseball team extended beyond gameday.
“You hear ‘Oot! Oot!’ on the bus all the time when something good happens and you hear ‘Oot! Oot!’ on the field when somebody did something good in practice,” Holbrook said.
USC fan Woody Gregory of North Charleston tweeted that “other than Cocky, Bill “OotOot” Golding (was the) most recognized Cheerleader of Gamecock Sports. Gonna miss him!!”
He was friends with Gamecocks baseball players and coaches through the years.
“RIP to an amazing fan, but an even better man. Been with @GamecockBasebll through the good and bad seasons,” Clarke Schmidt, who was named USC’s starting pitcher for the opening day game on Feb. 17, said in a tweet Friday.
Former Gamecocks star catcher Grayson Greiner tweeted: “Heaven welcomed a special man today. Rest In Peace Mr. Golding, you will be missed by many. #ootoot”
Golding was born Aug. 19, 1932, in Amonate, Va. He served in the Army, with two tours in Korea and three tours in Vietnam.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Gloria, and two daughters, Julianne and Lauren.
“We’re going to recognize him and play for him this year and hopefully we can do something special,” Holbrook said. “His legacy will definitely live on.”