How it feels to be heckled at Swayze: An opposing outfielder tells all

Scott Eklund

Ever wonder if the hecklers in Right Field really get into the opposition's head? Washington center fielder Braden Bishop sat down and gave us the scoop.

Every time Ole Miss plays baseball at Swayze, the rowdy bunch of students in Right Field spends roughly three hours trying to make the experience a living hell for the opposing outfielders. Facebook and Twitter accounts are accessed, the names of moms and sisters passed around, booming chants about his, er, anatomy started up.

Sure it's fun, but does it have any effect?

To find out, the Cup sat down with Braden Bishop, the Washington center fielder who just spent four days being verbally pummeled by the student section during the Oxford regional. He dished on getting tracked down on social media, the insults he heard, how it affected his play on the field and -- surprisingly -- how badly he wants to do it all over again.

RCR: So the announcement comes out that y'all are heading to Oxford. Did you have a sense of how big a baseball town it is? Did you know what to expect?

Bishop: Actually, I didn't have any idea when it first got announced. But I started piecing it together -- well, it's SEC hosting a regional, they're obviously going to draw a crowd. It's funny, I actually knew about Oxford from playing NCAA Football on Playstation. So I'd heard of the town.

Then guys started getting tagged on Twitter immediately and I was like, "OK, this is going to be a big deal."

I do have to say though, the closer the ball gets to those guys out there, the harder the play is to make.
How long did it take for folks to start blasting you on social media?

I think literally immediately after it was announced guys started getting tagged in tweets from @RFhater and some other guys.

When you took the field for the first time, how did it compare to your expectations?

It honestly blew me away. I mean I had pretty high expectations but when we actually got out there you had hundreds of college kids screaming at you and a stadium full of people that are diehard for their team. It's just something you don't find very often. It's something you have to cherish.

Your dad took a visit to the student section over the weekend, might have even played a little beer pong. Did he tell you about it?

I didn't know he was going out there. When we got delayed on Friday I was looking for him because I wanted to tell him we might get cancelled. Then all of a sudden everyone in the outfield started chanting "Let's go Huskies!" and I had no idea why. Then I looked at one of my teammates and said "I bet you my dad's out there." There was a photographer next to me so I asked him to take a picture out there. He zoomed in and next thing you know my dad's standing out there holding up a cup.

Is handling a bigger crowd something y'all prepared for? Did the coaches discuss how to handle the hostile environment?

Yea, we do a lot of stuff actually. We really focus on our breathing and getting into a moment where you can tune out all those people. The coaches do a really good job with that.

Can you actually tune it out though? As a player, does the heckling have an effect on you?

Oh yea. You don't want to acknowledge them because that's what they want. But it's hard because they're funny, they make you laugh. They crack some good jokes out there.

I think in between pitches is when you really feel the pressure they put on you. Once the play is happening you tune it out. I do have to say though, the closer the ball gets to those guys out there [laughs], the harder the play is to make.

If you botch a play, how tough of a walk is that back to your position?

There was one I missed (during the first game against Ole Miss) where I dove and it was just a little bit too far out of my reach. That walk back wasn't really fun [laughs]. I got worn out.

You weren't necessarily in the direct line of fire either. That was your right field buddy, Brian Wolfe. How'd he handle it?
I miss Oxford. I want to come back right now.

Really well. I was really proud of him. Going into the weekend he knew it was going to be tough. They had all this stuff on his family and his background. But he did a really good job of enjoying it and embracing it. He didn't let it get to him. He had fun with it.

It looked like you had fun with it too. At one point you were tossing the ball back and forth between innings with the students.

Yea, when my dad went out there on Friday they told him, "Tell Braden that when y'all aren't playing Ole Miss, throw the ball up to us." So I got out there first inning against Georgia Tech and they're all screaming at me to throw them the ball. So I threw it up there. They threw it back the next inning and it had writing all over it. It was fun.

Did you get any good questions on the ball?

Yea [laughs]. They asked me if I preferred No. 1 Olivia Wilde or No. 2 Kate Upton. I held up No. 1 for Olivia Wilde and they all went crazy. That was cool.

Did you get out and see much of Oxford?

We went to the Square on Friday and Saturday to eat dinner. I don't think we could get more than two feet before somebody would ask us, "Hey how do guys like Oxford?" or "Are people treating you nicely?" I was overwhelmed with how genuinely nice everyone was. I miss it. I want to come back right now.

What do you expect from next year's Husky team? I know you didn't get the result you wanted in Oxford, but do you think you're more confident having gone into a hostile SEC crowd and played some really competitive games?

As far as next year, it's hard to stay. I think it puts us in a really good spot because we have something to build off of and we know what it takes to get there. We're going to have a really good core group of leaders with a lot of experience. I know we have a really good foundation to build off and we're really excited.

Playing in Oxford definitely made us more battle tested. Even though we lost, we know we hung in there with them. A couple pitches here and there could have changed the outcome. But you have to fail to learn. I think this is going to make us better. It's just going to prepare us for the future.

We'd love to have you back in Oxford -- though after the scare you gave us this weekend, we'd prefer it's not as a two-seed in our regional. Any plans for a return trip?

Actually I think a couple of us are planning on coming out in the fall for a football game. We're trying to figure it out. We'd love to come back.

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