Opening Day will be a special occasion for more than one reason

Opening Day will be a special occasion for more than one reason

Gamecocks have everything they need to make it back to Omaha (story by Jeff Owens) 

Back in December, Spurs & Feathers featured this headline: "No one loves the Gamecocks more than Bill Golding."

In that article, one of Bill's good friends, Rudy Gardner, talked about how much the University of South Carolina meant to Golding.

"He's going to go to the very end," Gardner said of the well-known Gamecock baseball fan. "He's always made that clear with everyone that knows him."

Unfortunately, that end came a lot sooner than anyone wanted. Bill Golding passed away on Feb. 10, at the age of 84. His passing came one week before South Carolina baseball's Opening Day. 

On Opening Day, the South Carolina baseball team and athletics department will go above and beyond to honor the legendary fan. First, there will be a moment of silence before the crowd collectively shouts "Oot! Oot!" In addition, there will be a flag with "Oot Oot" on it flying in the outfield and a limited number of hardhat helmets will be given away to fans to wear. 

It was because of baseball that Golding became extremely popular as that trademark sticker-covered hardhat and overalls stood out in the crowd. Even more, his "Oot, Oot" chant became a rally cry for Gamecocks everywhere. 

Bill and Gloria Golding, his wife of more than 50 years, were die-hard Gamecock fans. 

"As far as anyone loving the Gamecocks more, I don't think there is a person," Gardner said. "I'm sure there's a lot of people that love them as much as he does, but there's no one that loves them more. Him and Gloria have been absolutely wonderful over the years. True fans."

Golding served in Korea and Vietnam with the United States military, and for well over three decades has been supporting not only South Carolina baseball, but everything that has to do with the Gamecocks.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was familiar with Golding from his frequent appearances at SEC baseball tournaments, and after learning of his passing tweeted, "Bill was an annual SEC baseball tournament fixture. We'll miss him!"

Several current and former South Carolina baseball players tweeted their condolences as well as the official SEC twitter account. Even Clemson head coach Monte Lee took time to remember the legendary Carolina fan.

Golding's impact was great in and around South Carolina sports and he will truly be missed. Baseball games just won't be the same without that hardhat and famous chant.

"He's all heart," Gardner said of Golding back in December. "Everything he's got inside him, he gives it to the University, and it's just absolutely amazing to me. My family, we're big Gamecock fans, but I have to be honest with you, Bill takes it to a level I didn't even know existed. He's a very special person."

RIP to a very special Gamecock fan.

**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Allen Sharpe**