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Bubbles, “Ball 5” Mean A&M Baseball Is Back

Susan "Sue" Owen '94 February 19, 2017 5:03 PM updated: May 5, 2017 1:06 PM

The sights and sounds of Aggie baseball returned to Olsen Field this weekend as A&M opened its 2017 season by sweeping* a three-game series with Bowling Green.

Fans at Blue Bell Park or watching online saw a lot of bubbles and heard a lot of “Ball 5”!

(All home games are televised or on SEC Network Plus; if you’ll be in town, scoop up a good seat via FlashSeats.)

Here’s a guide to some of the more, shall we say, noticeable Aggie baseball traditions (thanks in part to TexAgs threads like this).

Whether you haven’t been to Olsen since it got its Blue Bell Park makeover in 2012, or if you’ve been chanting “Ball 5” ever since the days when Aggies pulled up their pickups on the railroad track to watch over the fence, you may find something you recognize here.

Two players started this in 2015, and it bubbled up to the stands. Pretty cool! Infielder Patrick McLendon '15 bought a small plastic bubble machine and set it running in the dugout as part of a running joke with pitcher Corbin Martin '18 (the Eagle recorded the full story here). Initially a celebration of home runs, it’s expanded to runs and other achievements, and fans all over the stands bring their own bubbles. (The clear bag rule is in effect at Blue Bell, but don’t worry, a bubble machine fits in the bag.)

“Ball 5… Ball 6… Ball 7…”
When an opposing pitcher throws four balls and walks an Aggie to first base, the fans start predicting what he’s going to throw next: “Ball 5… Ball 5… Ball 5…” with an arm-chop gesture extending five fingers. If the next pitch is indeed a ball, up the crowd goes to “Ball 6....” and onwards. There’s evidence to show this successfully gets into a pitcher’s head. It’s not clear what the highest count ever has been, but we know it got up to “Ball 11” last year (video). UPDATE: It hit "Ball 12" May 5, 2017 (video).

Since the early 1980s, when an Aggie pitcher strikes out a batter, a clip from the opening of the old TV show “The Rifleman” plays -- usually with fans singsonging “It makes you feel so good!” Texas A&M Athletics has the full story here.

Betting on the engines
With a railroad running along the right-field wall, trains are a frequent feature of games in College Station. Fans hear the whistle of an approaching train and hold up fingers to bet on how many locomotives it will have. (There’s no actual prize other than the glory of being right.)
Sometimes the train will whistle “Hullabaloo caneck caneck” at the stands. Whoop!

“Jaws” theme
If the Aggies have runners on base threatening to score, you may hear this menacing theme. With possible shark gestures in the stands.

The music and effects played by Olsen PA announcer Rick Hill '87, now in his 25th season with Aggie baseball, add a lot to the experience. Find a thorough list compiled by Sanden Stewart '07 here.

Yelling opposing pitcher’s name
Fans will singsong the opposing pitcher’s first name at him to put on pressure, as well as after the PA plays the “Charge!” bugle call.

“Walk is cheaper”
If a big hitter for the Aggies comes up to the plate with runners in scoring position, the fans may suggest to the opposing pitcher that he’d be better off intentionally walking the batter than letting him bat in the runners.

Coaching instructions
The fans will encourage the first-base coach to “Get in the box!,” urge a coach talking to a player to “Touch his butt!,” and, when a coach goes to the mound to talk with his pitcher, argue both sides of the case by alternating calls of “Take him out!” and “Leave him in!”

* An extra note about potential Aggie sweeps this season: That’s why the team was wearing red, white and blue in the second game of Saturday’s double-header -- because they were in position to sweep the series. A Battalion sportswriter explains:

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