The first permanent truck to be used for seating at Mississippi State’s Left Field Lounge at Dudy Noble Field arrived by pure happenstance, the way Starkville resident Russ Rogers tells the story.
Rogers, a 1976 Mississippi State graduate, moved to Starkville in 1980 after he finished law school and opened a law firm in town with William Ward. The firm represented a local bank, which Rogers met with every Friday morning. He recalls sitting in the conference room, glancing out the window at the back of the parking lot and noticing a red, beat up truck.
“It was really an old piece of junk out there,” Rogers said.
Rogers asked what the bankers were going to do with the vehicle, which had been repossessed. The truck was inoperable, so the bank planned to sell it for scrap. There were around three months of college baseball season left, and Left Field Lounge seats were first come, first serve for a spot at that time, so Rogers hatched an idea.
“I asked if I could borrow it,” Rogers said. “They said, ‘Sure, hook it up and take it out there.’
That’s what we did. When the season was over, we brought the truck back and they sold it.”
The next few years, Rogers and his friends found an old truck, had it delivered to the Left Field Lounge to be used for college baseball season, then sold it in the offseason.
“All they had then was these long chairs with the vinyl stripes on them,” Rogers said. “That’s what we’d (set) in the back of (the truck).”
They eventually purchased a three quarter ton truck the group used permanently.
“It didn’t have an engine or a transmission in it, we just towed it in and towed it out,” Rogers said.
After Rogers brought in the old truck to reserve seating, other MSU fans caught wind of the idea and followed suit.
“It was instant,” he said. “Because it was first come first serve for your spot, it was advantageous to get the truck out there midweek to get the spot that you wanted and leave it there. Ultimately, they started selling the spots so you had to wait in line and get in line early for them. That got to be a disaster in terms of managing people. They’d say you couldn’t get in line until 8 a.m. Thursday, people would be outside the door on Tuesday. They went to permanent spots and we were fortunate enough to get one.”
Rogers, who was born in Brooklyn, moved to Starkville in 1967 from Bellevue, Washington, after his father, a 1938 MSU graduate and a research chemist, landed a job with the university.
Although Rogers moved around growing up, he always considered Mississippi home.
“My dad raised me as a Bulldog,” Rogers said.
Since moving to Starkville in 1967, Rogers has been a frequent visitor to Dudy Noble Field’s Left Field Lounge, fondly remembering Burke Masters’ grand slam in 1990 that lifted the Bulldogs into the College World Series and recently relishing MSU’s series victory against rival Ole Miss in mid April.
Rogers attends the games with his wife of nearly 50 years, Barbara.
“It’s wonderful to have been married to someone for 50 years, to someone who loves sports as much as you do,” he said.
The pair plan to keep attending Mississippi State sporting events in the future, with maybe only one exception.
“Unfortunately I will tolerate rain a little more than she will now,” he said with a laugh. “I’ll go to a game and eventually put my rain gear on, but it would take a special game for me to go to a game actually wearing it.”