The Fifth Quarter is a column written by Sports Editor Evan Neustater. The opinions expressed in the column are solely his.
Simply referred to as “The Hill,” the grassy elevation behind left field of Reckling Park used to be a staple of student attendance at Rice baseball games. Students would bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnic baskets before relaxing for an afternoon or evening watching a ballgame. It’s not that this tradition is dead; in fact, it was reinvigorated on Friday night.
On Friday, Feb. 13, Rice baseball held its opening night matchup against the University of Texas. Baseball season was back. Students and alumni flocked to Reckling Park to watch the annual ceremony celebrating the beginning of America’s pastime. 4,755 fans packed Reckling on a beautiful night to watch the matchup from the stands, and many students went to the Hill behind left field to watch the game as a student community.
Last season, I don’t remember there being a sizeable event on the Hill. Sure, from time to time you could see a small scattering of fans sitting on the bleachers out there. But on Friday night, we saw the potential this space has. Thanks to the Rally Club’s pre-game tailgate and advertising efforts, a large number of students came out to sit on the Hill, eat, drink and watch our Owls take on the Longhorns.
As a student body, we need to re-establish the Hill as a formidable baseball student section. It offers a good sight line from leftfield and allows for some pretty good heckling of the opposing team’s leftfielder. Furthermore, it allows for Rice students to have a common area to sit, converse and root on our nationally-ranked team. Instead of students scattering throughout the stadium, they could come together, enjoy a beer, and watch some baseball.
The weather in second semester (a.k.a baseball season) is usually pretty stellar. Baseball is meant to be watched outdoors with friends, a drink in hand and three hours of relaxation with the occasional moment of excitement. People complain all the time about baseball being boring, but those people don’t understand the calming effects of the game. No, baseball isn’t as fast-paced as basketball and doesn’t have the hard-hitting action of football. But baseball is meant to be more than just a game to watch. It’s a social event, a way for people to come together, relax and root on a team. Also, if you’ve ever watched a ninth inning of a game, you understand baseball can be as exciting as any sport out there.
This season, come out to Reckling Park and find a nice spot on the Hill. Bring friends, food and some beer (only if you’re over 21 and it’s in a can, of course). It’s unreasonable to think the Hill will ever be as crowded as it was opening night against Texas, but there are 25 home games remaining this season, and there’s no reason we, as a student body, can’t replicate a similar experience at Reckling on a Friday or Saturday night.