UVA Baseball Players Attest: Dogpiles Come With Temporary Pain, But Forever Joy

June 15, 2023 By Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu

After pitching the game of his life last Sunday and leading the University of Virginia back to the College World Series, Brian Edgington celebrated by being tackled to the ground and piled on by more than 30 of his teammates.

“It was a little hard to breathe at times,” he said, “but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.”

As much a baseball tradition as the ceremonial first pitch or the playing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch, teams often react to winning championship games by jumping on top of one another.

The practice is known as the “dogpile,” a term that, according to dictionary.com, is first found in literature in 1921 to describe a scrum of football players. The expression links to the way dogs pile on each other when feeding or playing.

Related Story

Baseball players mid pile up on the field
While it’s to celebrate a monumental achievement, the baseball dogpile can twist body parts in a variety of positions. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

Researchers point to 1982 as the first Major League Baseball dogpile when the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. Jubilant players huddled and fell to the ground. Before, players sometimes just threw equipment in the air or ran off the field. But since, the baseball dogpile has spread through all levels of the sport as the staple of high-stakes victories.

At Virginia, dogpiles have become somewhat of the norm since Brian O’Connor took over as head baseball coach in 2004. There’s been cause for such a celebration in at least the 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2021 and 2023 seasons. Those are the six times the Wahoos have clinched an NCAA Super Regional series and have advanced to the College World Series. And there was even a second dogpile in 2015 when UVA won the national championship.

Close up of dogpile
An embattled Brian Edgington lays flat on the bottom of UVA’s most recent dogpile. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

Virginia begins play in this year’s CWS on Friday at 7 p.m. against the University of Florida in Omaha, Nebraska.

The latest dogpile unfolded Sunday afternoon after Edgington, who pitched the entire game, saw the final Duke University batter pop up harmlessly to left field. UVA won the game 12-2 and the series 2-1, prompting mass chaos on the mound at Disharoon Park.

Catcher Kyle Teel sacked Edgington mere moments after the final out.

“I was just thankful to turn around quick enough because he was right there,” Edgington said.

Within seconds, the duo had plenty of company.

“I was probably third on the bottom,” first baseman Ethan Anderson said. “The fly ball went out to left field and I tried to celebrate as much as I could on the outside, but then I just had to get in there. I was just hugging to Kyle on the edge. And then I just felt everyone jump on me.”

“I was running in from the dugout,” said Harrison Didawick, who started Sunday’s game as the left fielder and then was replaced by Colin Tuft. “I did not get into the middle; I slid right to the side and eventually fell to the very bottom. I was getting absolutely crushed.”

“I was near the bottom,” pitcher Nick Parker said. “I was just trying to keep all knees out of my ribs and back.

"But it was pretty cool, I'll tell you that, being down there."

Most enthusiastic dogpile in 2015
The greatest dogpile in UVA history: after the Cavaliers won the national championship in 2015. (UVA Athletics photo)

The consensus among UVA players polled during a pre-CWS media day session at Disharoon Park was just that: Dogpiles can cause temporary pain, but the memory lasts forever.

“I dreamed of being in the College World Series my whole life,” Didawick, a freshman from Chesapeake, said. “And having my first dogpile, to go to Omaha, is just a dream come true. You see all the big-leaguers, all the College World Series players in the past doing it and you just dream of doing it.”

All those bodies colliding could make a coach fear the threat of injury. After all, the combined weight of Virginia baseball team is 7,321 pounds, or seven grand pianos. But O’Connor said he’s never enforced any dogpile rules, though he admits it probably makes longtime team trainer Brian McGuire cringe.

“I’m sure he does,” O’Connor said, “but I have never addressed it. I was excited to see our guys dogpile because some teams don’t, because they think should go there (to the College World Series). But I want them to enjoy it, so I’m all for it.”

Players lined up congratulating each other
Ernie Clement, the hero of UVA’s win over Maryland in the 2015 super regional, came out of the dogpile with a fresh gash on his forehead. (UVA Athletics photo)

Still, accidents happen.

Anderson, a Virginia Beach native, said he came out of a dogpile that commemorated a high school state championship with a black eye.

Former UVA pitcher Robert Poutier cracked a rib in the 2009 celebration of the Cavaliers’ super regional win over the University of Mississippi.

And Ernie Clement, the recent UVA Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, received a gash on his forehead thanks to a body slam from his teammate, Kevin Doherty, following Clement’s walk-off hit that clinched a 2015 super regional victory over the University of Maryland.

Excellence Here Goes Everywhere, To Be Great and Good In All We Do
Excellence Here Goes Everywhere, To Be Great and Good In All We Do

A few aches for a lot of happiness.

In a few weeks, the Hoos hope to be dogpiling all over again as national champions.

“I think when you get a chance to pile like that,” Parker said, “the baseball gods just kind of watch over you.” 

Media Contact

Andrew Ramspacher

University News Associate University Communications