University of Georgia fans may have been left stunned by the shocking defeat handed to the Bulldogs by the University of South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, but there was still reason for celebration. Any fan of college football, and especially SEC football, knows that the phrase “between the hedges” refers to Sanford Stadium, home of the UGA Bulldogs. Saturday, those beloved hedges turned 90 years old.
ESPN and SEC Network’s Ryan McGee marked the anniversary in a tweet and photo right next to the “most famous shrubs in sports,” as he was there to cover the game this weekend.
Happy 90th birthday to the most famous shrubs in sports. The Georgia hedges made their debut on this day in 1929 for UGA vs Yale. Today’s hedges are the grandchildren of the originals, grown from clippings saved from the plants that were removed for the 1996 Olympics. #Dawgs pic.twitter.com/OKra5mrzUb— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) October 12, 2019
As McGee reported, the hedges that line the entire gridiron made their debut October 12, 1929, when UGA took on Yale. “Today’s hedges are the grandchildren of the originals, grown from clippings saved from the plants that were removed for the 1996 Olympics.”
As ESPN reported in 2009, Charles E. Martin, who held almost every office in the athletic department from publicity to business manager, is the reason the hedges came to Sanford Stadium. Martin attended the 1926 Rose Bowl and became enamored by the rose bushes that bordered the field in Pasadena, California. He wanted to bring rose bushes to Georgia, but roses wouldn’t thrive in Athens. Instead, it was decided they would go with privet Ligustrum. The shrubs were trucked in last minute from Atlanta and planted just hours before kickoff.
When Atlanta was selected to host the 1996 Summer Olympics, Sanford Stadium was picked to host soccer matches. The problem was that regulation soccer fields measure longer than a football field, and the hedges would need to be removed. Dawg fans were not happy about it. So, as McGee noted in his tweet, the hedges we see today grew from clippings of those original plants. But in ESPN’s in-depth report, they claim that an infestation of microscopic worms were discovered, and the hedges would have been removed regardless.
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Thankfully those clippings have grown back to full glory and hopefully, next week’s game will yield a better result for the football team. Go Dawgs!