Marker Monday: Herty Field

For the month of June, #MarkerMonday will be exploring sports and recreational history in Georgia. Prepare for a summer of fun and leisure as we delve into the history behind sporting venues and events and famous Georgian athletes.

Image Credit: David Seibert

This week’s #MarkerMonday highlights Herty Field, named for chemist Charles Herty and the site of the first intercollegiate football game played in the state of Georgia. After receiving his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University, Charles Holmes Herty returned to his alma mater of the University of Georgia (UGA) as a chemistry professor in 1890. While at UGA, Herty became involved in efforts to revive the stagnant athletics program. He organized and coached the university’s first football team and worked to raise funds for improved athletic facilities such as the Alumni Athletic Field, later renamed Herty Field in Charles Herty’s honor. On January 30, 1892, UGA competed against Macon’s Mercer College in the first intercollegiate football game in Georgia. Under Coach Herty’s leadership, UGA defeated Mercer College 50-0.

Newspaper Headline “Black and Crimson waves triumphantly over the ball ground.” The Athens Weekly Banner, February 2, 1892.

The Athens Weekly Banner described the scene following UGA’s win saying, “Enthusiasm was supreme, boys were riding around on a sea of shoulders, even the goat was ridden.” (Prior to UGA’s adoption of the English bulldog as a mascot, a goat served as mascot for the first football game.)  Reports from the game also mention that nearly a thousand fans attended the game to cheer on the two teams. Georgia played all its home games at Herty Field until 1911 when Sanford Stadium was constructed. The grounds of Herty Field were then used for informal intramural games and as a R.O.T.C. drill field. In the 1940s, the field was converted into a parking lot, and was later converted back into green space in 1999.

Top Image taken from larger image- Dr. Herty in office with secretary. Image Courtesy of the Georgia Historical Society. Foltz Photography Studio (Savannah, Ga.), photographs, 1899-1960, 1360-21-02-09.

Explore the links below to learn more about Herty Field, Charles H. Herty, and the history of UGA football.

Charles H. Herty was one of the featured historical figures for the 2016-2017 Georgia History Festival: A State of Innovation.  Check out GHS’ online learning materials such as the Charles Herty Teacher Guide and Feature Historical Figure Profile.

GHS is also proud to house several collection items related to college football in the State of Georgia, including by not limited to game day tickets, photographs, postcards depicting university stadium, UGA Coach Vince Dooley’s play diagrams, and other memorabilia. These items can be referenced by searching GHS’s Digital Images Catalog.

Full Marker Text

New Georgia Encyclopedia (Charles H. Herty)

Discover UGA: 1 UGA Football Game for the History Books

This Day in Athens- 30 January 1892: Georgia Is Victorious in First Football Game, Creates an Athens Obsession UGA 1892 Football Schedule Former Georgia Head Football Coaches History of Our Mascot

Welcome to UGA: Herty Field (video)

Further Reading

“Black and Crimson waves triumphantly over the ball ground.” The Athens Weekly Banner, February 2, 1892. Accessed May 17, 2017.

Reed, Thomas Walter. History of the University of Georgia. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.

Roberts, Katy. “Over the Dawg Years: Herty Field transforms from parking lot to student oasis.” The Red and Black. September 10, 2013. Accessed May 17, 2017.

Sharpe, Wilton. Bulldog Madness: Great Eras in Georgia Football. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House, 2005.