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UC Field (copy)

University of Charleston Stadium houses Laidley Field, which has been a staple of state football for decades.

I must admit that I am a little different than most. Most of you are normal. You fall in love with people and animals, things that can love you back.

I, on the other hand, must admit that I have always had an affection for sports venues. I have fond, nostalgic feelings for football stadiums, baseball parks and basketball arenas.

For example, the first time that I walked into Crosley Field, Connie Mack Stadium and Yankee Stadium, it was love at first sight. I even felt the same way the first time I went to Watt Powell Park.

It is not just baseball parks, I also love college football stadiums. I have always loved Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the historic Los Angeles Coliseum and “The Horseshoe” in Columbus, Ohio.

I also have many memories of state football stadiums. Here are a couple that impacted my life.

Fairfield Stadium: I basically started my professional broadcasting career in the press box at Fairfield when I began doing the radio play-by-play of the Marshall games in the late 1970s. The first game I ever broadcast was in the stadium’s old press box. As a student, I fell in love twice at Fairfield Stadium.

H.B. Douglas Field: It was my home high school stadium at DuPont and I remember when it opened in the fall of 1970. Prior to that, DuPont played at the old junior high field with standouts such as Earl Cochran, Danny Nawara, K.T. Minor, Roland Willis and Neil and Benny Hopkins.

The last time I was there, I sat at a charity event table with DuPont alums Polly Horan and Tamie Ryan. The stadium had lost seats and had been converted into a middle school stadium. It did not feel the same.

Laidley Field: Like many of you, I saw a lot of great football games at Laidley Field. As a kid in the 1960s, I thought the minor league Charleston Rockets were like an NFL team. I didn’t know the difference. I also saw Class AAA state title games there in 1964, 1965 and 1967. Numerous junior high and high school teams played home games there. Laidley was the home field for Charleston High, Stonewall Jackson, George Washington and Charleston Catholic.

Mitchell Stadium: When I was in grade school and lived in McDowell County, it always felt like stepping into the “big time” to go to Mitchell Stadium in Bluefield.

Old Mountaineer Field: Everybody of my generation marveled at old Mountaineer Field. One of my fondest memories was the 1968 game with undefeated Penn State. My father allowed me to take childhood friends David Elkins and Tony Atkins. We had great seats and saw a close, high-scoring game. We were fascinated by Penn State coach Joe Paterno. I did not realize that 20 years later I would work with him.

Contact Frank Giardina at flg16@hotmail.com.