A Bulldog farewell from the Aisle 10 Crew

classic bulldog bodyLast August, when I was writing about Greg McGarity becoming UGA’s athletic director, I noted that he had a group of longtime Athens friends who dubbed themselves the Aisle 10 Crew at Georgia football games back in the 1970s, and that the Crew, many of them lifelong pals, still spent time together each summer at a North Georgia lake.

I also noted that my main childhood memory of Greg was him hanging out at the UGA tennis courts with one of my neighbors, a kid called “Chipper” Jones long before the baseball player made that name famous. I also mentioned that on the day the news broke that Greg would be the new AD, he talked on the phone with one of the Aisle 10 Crew, but the primary subject wasn’t his new job; it was their former Athens High/Clarke Central tennis teammate Chipper, who was hospitalized in Atlanta.

Well, the Aisle 10 Crew is getting together again today in Athens, but not for a happy occasion. They’re acting as pallbearers at the funeral of one of their own.

The “original” Chipper Jones died Tuesday.

Although I was a couple of years older than Chipper, I hung out with him quite a bit when we were young. I hadn’t seen him in decades, but from what his Aisle 10 Crew buddies tell me, he had not changed much from the funny, gregarious, fun-loving kid I grew up with.

In later years he officially went by Otis (a name he shared with his dad, a longtime UGA employee and fixture in the press box at athletic events) or by “Chip.” But his friends still called him Chipper or the Big O.

One of them, Bill McDougald, told me Chipper “was without doubt the Godfather of the whole Crew thing” and another, Lawton Stephens, agreed. In a nutshell, Bill said, the Aisle 10 Crew was spawned “by all of us wanting to sit together at football games, but not having adjacent tickets. A few had some up on North, Upper Aisle 10 (maybe it’s 310 now?) and so the rest just piled in, bargaining, squeezing, or otherwise kind of taking over the better part of several rows on a good day.

“We had all known each other in grade school, at Athens High, at the Y (under the great Cobern Kelley), on summer visits to the mountains, or across Coach [Dan] Magill’s tennis courts for years. … Most of the core members graduated from Clarke Central in the class of ’72 or so. And most had UGA faculty or staff parents. All were rabid Dawg fans. Aisle 10 was no place for the wayward Clemson, Auburn or Tech visitor to enter — and if they did, they never stayed long!”

McDougald said the bond they formed “kept us in touch as we scattered across Georgia, the South and the country, and you could always count on getting together with the Crew somewhere at a road game or when back in Athens.”

Among the Crew besides Chipper, McDougald and Stephens were Bill McDonald, Dirk Howell, Don Beacham, Jamie Hudson, Buster Inman (son of former assistant football coach Frank), David Long, Doug Shelnutt, Ralph Harris, Louis German, Johnny McWilliams and Perry Strickland.

Recalls crew member Bill McDonald: “We chartered buses, made up our own game programs, jackets, T-shirts, caps, you name it, and went all over the conference to games. Even got Munson to mention us on air a few times.”

And always at the forefront of the Crew was Chipper, who McDougald said didn’t have a malicious bone in his body but “would defend the Dawgs (and possibly his Aisle 10 buddies) to the death.”

Stephens, now a Superior Court judge in Athens, recalled Chipper was a “larger than life character, which is why he always wore Sansabelt slacks.”

The friends spent many a night hanging out in the wee hours at the Five Points Waffle House in Athens, where Chipper provided the entertainment. Said Stephens, “He drew people to him like a magnet with his wit and his unique way of expressing himself” in folksy, colorful sayings they took to calling “Chipisms.”

Most aren’t printable here, but Stephens provided a couple: Whenever Chipper saw a pretty girl he would say, “She’s as strong as green onions” or “She can he’p you.” And Chipper, who was known to strip to his shorts to try to hit his golf ball out of the water, would never consider walking the links. According to Chipper, if you didn’t have a cart and a cooler, “That ain’t golf!”

They had a lot of laughs together through the years, these friends, and shared a lot of Bulldog memories.

And now, McDougald said, “here we are, as our idol Munson would probably say: 20, 30, 40, oh my God, some 50 years later, still sharing memories, fun and football, and now the passing of the legendary Big O.”

“The folks in heaven better get ready,” he added. “They’re in for the time of their lives!”

Now, feel free to get back to discussing Isaiah Crowell’s progress and how often Branden Smith will need to change jerseys in the first game. Chipper would enjoy that.

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62 comments Add your comment

Lowcountry Bulldawg

August 6th, 2011
9:58 am

Nice way to remember a friend Bill. Nice commentary.

Dr. Phil

August 6th, 2011
10:00 am

Old friends are the best. Good luck to the rest of the group.

Frank Lane

August 6th, 2011
10:00 am

So he is a different Chipper Jones that the ball player? Who had the name first? My condolences.

Bill King

August 6th, 2011
10:02 am

Chipper Jones from Athens was quite a bit older than Chipper Jones the Braves player. That’s why we called our friend the “original” Chipper Jones.

ARdawg

August 6th, 2011
10:21 am

Agreed. Nice memorial Bill. Thanks for posting it.

tide roll

August 6th, 2011
10:24 am

It just isn’t fair. Right here on the cusp of another college football year and you guys lose Chipper. Wish the Man upstairs had chosen to give him one more season. Sounds like he was a great guy.

GeoffDawg

August 6th, 2011
10:48 am

My condolences. I’m sure he has a great view of the field looking down from Heaven.

shane#1 STREET AGENT

August 6th, 2011
10:49 am

Sorry for your loss Bill. We have lost some DGDs this year.

Daniel#12

August 6th, 2011
11:30 am

Truly sorry to hear of Chipper’s passing. I remember him well from my tennis playing days in Athens (and the year he beat Greg McGarity in the Athens City tennis tournament in either the 12U or 14U division) Greg always beat Chipper, but this year Chipper won. Got very nice writeup in the Banner Herald. Haven’t seen or talked to him in years, but have fond memories of him. May he rest in peace.

Salute

August 6th, 2011
12:03 pm

Here’s to you Dawg fan…..another Bulldog in heaven. Say hi to Lewis G. and the past UGA’s.

PaulPaul

August 6th, 2011
12:05 pm

Always sad to here about the passing of a friend especially one who loved the Bulldogs so much. This sure puts all that counts in life in perspective. Sad that he didn’t get to see one more season. We will keep both you and him in our prayers.

I miss all my Dawg friends

August 6th, 2011
12:08 pm

And they’re not even dead. Life has kinda passed us by…I just kinda smile as I pass a fellow Bulldog, as if we’re friends, with our common bond.

Bartles & James

August 6th, 2011
12:10 pm

We thank you for your support!

Good news

August 6th, 2011
12:16 pm

Jenkins made it through a practice. Interesting to see how a 275 lb. FB (Figgins) produces in his new position. A position that is increased in importance this year with TB situation.

?

August 6th, 2011
12:20 pm

Does anyone else get mixed up between the 2 Brandons (Smith & Boykin)?
Both DB’s, but which one does the kickoff and punt returns and which plays on offense occasionally?
Get em in game at same time and it’s “who was that”?

Hubba Hubba

August 6th, 2011
12:22 pm

Anybody else ready for some football? The UGA variety!

shane#1 STREET AGENT

August 6th, 2011
12:24 pm

/, They go by so damn fast it’s hard to tell them apart. The question is,”what was that”?

shane#1 STREET AGENT

August 6th, 2011
12:27 pm

Should have been,?, Dyslexia got I.

DAWGS forever

August 6th, 2011
12:45 pm

Good story of good ole folks at Georgia. This story is one of many going on around America’s team. The DAWGS!

Thanks for the great article. God Bless & Go DAWGS!

GeoffDawg

August 6th, 2011
12:51 pm

Smith plays offense on occassion and Boykin is the primary kickoff returner although Smith also is sometimes put into kickoff/punt return duty.

Hubba Hubba

August 6th, 2011
12:57 pm

Which Brandon has all the 100 yard returns for touchdowns?
And which is the better DB?

well here we are

August 6th, 2011
12:58 pm

Dazed and confused

DrMorpheus

August 6th, 2011
1:04 pm

Thanks for the salute to a great friend, Bill.

Cuz

August 6th, 2011
1:19 pm

Good story Bill. Thanks for sharing.

Dawg86

August 6th, 2011
2:08 pm

Smith plays on offense occasionally and returns punts. Boykin is the kickoff returner and is supposed to be the better DB however smith was a higher touted recruit. Out of atlanta 2years ago was rated the #1 prospect in GA

Thanks

August 6th, 2011
2:17 pm

So Boykin is the one with all the returns for TD’s?

Thanks

August 6th, 2011
2:21 pm

Both have been here long enough for that talent to come out….Time for them both to live up to expectations.
Any prospects for a shut down corner like Champ B. on the horizon?

UGADawg83

August 6th, 2011
2:32 pm

You and the Aisle Ten crew are in my thoughts and prayers.

RedandBlackDAWG

August 6th, 2011
2:58 pm

Sorry your friend passed away Bill. No doubt he will look down from heafven on game days though, so just keep a seat open for him, and act like he is there. For sure his heart and soul will be. Lost a few close buddies in Viet nam also, and not a day goes by that I don’t at least think about them a little. Good friends are hard to come by and even harder to part with.

GO DAWGS,
You have a real fan looking down on you. Don’t disapoint him.

Thanks

August 6th, 2011
3:20 pm

Back to football….275 lb. FB….gotta love it…..let’s see how he progresses…FB has been a strength for years and is very important this year with TB and O-line situation.

JDawg1785

August 6th, 2011
4:24 pm

Great tribute to an old friend, Bill. He’ll have a great view of Sanford Stadium from Heaven.

Make Chipper proud this season, Dawgs!

Tim Crenshaw

August 6th, 2011
5:15 pm

Bill
My brother Ray and I where close friends of Chipper until we went off to private school in high school.
We had a great time playing baseball after school at Barrow Elementary. Chipper was usually out playing 500 with us. The Jones are a great family. I am sorry to hear about Chipper. I will always remember him as a great guy with a great since of humor. Thanks for the article.

Stuart

August 6th, 2011
11:01 pm

Thank you Bill.

Jimmy Moore

August 6th, 2011
11:24 pm

Hey guys — all of my buddies from Chipper’s class. Wow, it’s tough seeing someone our
age passing away. Sentimental I guess — but great memories. One of God’s most
precious gifts to us — our memories. Wishing all of you the best — and knowing Chipper
is in Heaven looking down on us. Can’t say enough about “memories.”

macrotech

August 7th, 2011
12:07 am

Sorry to hear of this loss…I will ALWAYS respect the passion of one for their team! “Chipper” sounds like the kind of guy that could turn a funeral into a party! Bill, even as a Tech fan, I enjoy your passion for your team and the resulting blog. I’ll enjoy the thought of Chipper and Lewis Grizzard swapping UGA stories…doesn’t sound like there will be any lack of laughter in Heaven! Blessings to all that know the pain of this loss!

NdawgC87

August 7th, 2011
1:52 am

@ tide roll….. i would like to say thank you for the kind words. It seems you always have some kind of smart remark to make about anything UGA but you really showed great class with that post. Just goes to show that it isnt always about smack talk. Bravo and i hope people could learn from your example

Alphare

August 7th, 2011
7:39 am

Doesn’t matter what name, Chipper, Chip, Big O, etc, as long as it’s not Junior, I am OK.

“Junior” is belittling, embarrassing, which shows the parents are idiotic.

BTW, calling somebody a “Junior” is like saying, hey, little guy, you don’t have a name.

bad brad

August 7th, 2011
8:47 am

Great story Bill, thanks.

FBR

August 7th, 2011
11:22 am

Beautifully written piece—He must’ve been quite a guy.

Charles

August 7th, 2011
11:48 am

My favorite Chipper Jones story is the the time when Chipper went to school at Demorest during an academic break from UGA. He conned the basketball coach into believing he was a stat man. At halftime of his first and only game the coach asked Chipper “How many rebounds do we have? He responded with the total number of rebounds. Next, the coach asked,”How many offensive rebounds do we have?” Chipper stammered, “Well, about half!”. Chipper mentored me during my formative years at UGA. He loved all things UGA and Marcel Ledbetter.

Buckeye

August 7th, 2011
11:53 am

(Although Richt did tell the gathering that three incoming freshmen have “Dream Team” tattooed on their arms.)

dogs and tatoos??

OMG!

Richt the Man!

August 7th, 2011
11:54 am

Boring Article. Sorry for the death of “Chipper” but for a general Dawg blog this seems mostly like it should be in People or some other gossip rag rather than on the Sports blog for UGA athletics.

funny...

August 7th, 2011
12:04 pm

Sorry you lost a friend but the “old guard” at UGA needs to move on anyway. You shady side of the stadium folk need to stop living on Dooley, Walker, and the fact that Georgia used to beat Florida.

Ringleader

August 7th, 2011
3:56 pm

funny…………

Why don’t you go find a light socket to lick.

Huck

August 7th, 2011
5:14 pm

Great piece Bill…thanks for sharing a bit of yourself. Here’s to Chipper…Glory, glory!

jed_clampett

August 7th, 2011
7:42 pm

Stories like this are why college fans make it the greatest game there is. I think Bama’s gonna win the sec again

RomeDawg

August 7th, 2011
8:56 pm

Sorry for the loss. Sounds like the Dawg nation lost someone special.

Brent

August 7th, 2011
9:26 pm

Bill,

Ealey’s new coach called him “Herschel” by accident in a video clip. Said as he looked at Herschel’s numbers, Herschel, like all great QB’s & RB’s, got better as the quarters wore on. Was his strongest in the 4th quarter. Coach was impressed with how Ealey did the same. Nice gesture.

Hope the UGA QB & new RB’s learn that lesson.

Brent

August 7th, 2011
9:44 pm

Using that Herschel Rule, of getting more productive quarter by quarter, especially in the 4th, maybe Murray/Mason/Lemay & Samuel/Crowell/Malcome will be challenged to be great when it counts. That’s probably also a sign of superior conditoning, mentally & physically.

McElroy in 2009 got more accuracy each quarter:
2nd qrtr: 52%
3rd qrtr: 63%
4th qrtr: 69%

Dyer in 2010 went:
1st qrtr: 3.88 ypc
2nd qrtr: 5.23 ypc
3rd qrtr: 6.61 ypc
4th qrtr: 7.10

Godfrey, as a freshman QB at UCF went:
3rd qrtr: 60%
4th qrtr: 78%

Andrew Luck:
3rd qrtr: 67%
4th qrtr: 72%

Teddy

August 7th, 2011
9:47 pm

Hey Bill, do you know where Doug Shelnutt aka Coach is now. I use to run around with him in the late 70s and early 80’s.