*The author of this article works in the WCU athletics department.*

It has been brought to the attention of the WCU community that on April 20, 2016, when the Western Carolina Catamounts played Virginia Tech in a baseball match up, there was an incident involving a player on the opposing team.

Except from the email sent to WCU Students and Faculty from Randy Eaton.

Excerpt from the email sent to WCU Students and Faculty from Randy Eaton.

While we cannot discuss the specifics of the event and what was said toward the player on the field (for confidentiality reasons), we can discuss the consequences of the incident. Athletics Director, Randy Eaton, sent an email to the community last week following the dispute to make everyone aware of the situation and how athletics were handling it.

The Athletics Department and Randy Eaton decided there is to be no tailgating in the back of right field behind the fence and there will be more staff placed around the stadium to cut down on the slander for future games. 

The most shocking news that came to the WCU community this week is the removal of the victory beer pour.

An unnamed source in the Athletics Department says that WCU has been turning a blind eye for years about the beer and now that the alcohol involved in the right field led to the incident that it did, police will be enforcing it more strongly.

The ‘beer pour’ or ‘beer run’ is a tradition held after the conclusion of a win. A group of fans under the name “Left Field Lunatics” run down to the field, climb the fence and the team runs to them in their victory lap getting beer poured all over them.

This has been a tradition since before original LFL, Robert Boylan, started the Left Field Lunatics – but he made it their own.

“The beer pour had been performed in the outfield prior to the start of the LFL, but it was mainly to celebrate major victories. We decided that every win was a big win and the fellas on the team deserved to have a unique celebration following victories. We ended up climbing the fence for the victory shower each game since,” says Boylan.

The baseball fandom at Western used to be very big, having about 200 fans sitting in the outfield to tailgate and have a good time. Tailgating was banned in 2008 after multiple students were issued DUIs and threw objects at opposing players. After this incident, the LFL formed.

beer run

The beer run after a win. Photo from Left Field Lunatics Facebook page with permission

Many questions arose about who the “lunatics” actually are and why they sit up there at the little house on the hill to heckle the opposing team. As a WCU alumni and a major baseball fan, Boylan helps answer some of these questions.

The LFL formed during the middle of the 2009 season and formed a bigger identity during the 2010 season. After the events in 2008 that caused the outfield scene to evaporate, there was very poor attendance at WCU baseball games. For a school that has 5,000 plus students living on campus or within 2 miles of the stadium, there was almost no fan support.

“A friend and former WCU student, Barret Bonkoski, and I were having a conversation about how successful the baseball team has been historically and how it was sad that such a prestigious program had such poor home support,” said Boylan. “We decided that, from then on, we would do our best to make every game and do our best to make Cullowhee a difficult place for opposing teams to come and get a win.”

When they started going to house on the hill overlooking the field and had people join them, they soon realized a tradition had been started and they needed even more people to join them.


Some of the fans in attendance on the hill for the LFL Photo from Left Field Lunatics Facebook page with permission

It has not just been the team who has reciprocated the support of the LFL, but also the player’s parents. The parents have brought them food and refreshments since 2010 and frequently join them on the hill during games to take part in the festivities.

Just within the past three years, a tradition has begun where the moms of the senior players join the Lunatics on the fence for the beer pour at the last game of the year.

“Our goal is to make ‘Fortress Cullowhee’ the hardest place in the country for opposing teams to come and try and get a victory. Our dream is to have an atmosphere that rivals Mississippi State. The reason [the Left Field Lunatics] cite this school is because they have the highest average attendance in the country  and that is due to the fact that going to a game at The Dude, Dudy Noble Field, is an experience in itself,” says Boylan

In response to the incident last week, the Lunatics had no idea what was going on until the email was sent to them later in the week. They encourage the fans in right field to come forward because the behavior should not be tolerated.

They have no intentions of stopping, even with the beer pour being taken away. They still plan on keeping the victory lap alive by pouring something else on the players. Beginning with alumni, they hope to spark more interest in students to come and support the Cats with Bats.

This particular tradition is impactful to recruiting, fan/player relationships and even has the father of an MLB star weighing in.

tyler white

Tyler White when he played at WCU. Photo from Catamount Sports

“This is a sad day. I remember Tyler’s senior year in high school, the first Western game he attended he had seen you guys in left field, he couldn’t wait to get there and get his first win and experience the moment as a player,” said Brian White, courtesy of the LFL Facebook page. White is the father of WCU alumni, Tyler White, who now plays for the Houston Astros. “I also remember at Clemson University when [the Left Field Lunatics] were getting cursed [at] by  half of the fans in attendance, you still kept it very professional, but very entertaining.”

The Left Field Lunatics were started in response to the outfield ban seven years ago, and although they are being punished due to the actions of a select few, this is not the end of the support to the players, parents and the 1002 Club.

“It’s our desire to establish the best and most intimidating environment in the SoCon, but in a manner that is not degrading [or] shameful,” said Boylan. “Anything worthwhile is not easily gained, and if this is another roadblock on our way to establishing the best baseball environment in the SoCon, then we look forward to the days ahead as we only see the good in those who support WCU and do our best to ensure everyone keep[s] it a family night.”

Many students, players, alumni, parents and fans have given their input on the Facebook page of the LFL and Twitter and are trying to find the best way to revise the rule for the future of WCU Baseball.

People are still encouraged to contact Dean Koett through e-mail if they have more information regarding last week’s game against Virginia Tech.