The art of the dogpile

Perhaps the greatest part of the baseball season are the midsummer months of June and July. School is out, youth leagues are rolling along, summer travel ball teams are gearing up and the Major League All-Star game in July. High school state tournaments and wrapping up and of course, Omaha’s College World Series takes center stage, as victorious teams engage in the greatest celebration in all of sports – the dogpile.

Dogpiles typically begin wherever the baseball is when last out is made, which is typically the pitcher’s mound or first base. However there are some exceptions, like when TCU celebrated a 2010 NCAA Super Regional win at the University of Texas’ Disch-Falk field by dogpiling on the Longhorn logo in center field (Texas returned to the College World Series the following year):

From there, the fracas ensues, typically lasting until the players at bottom begin fighting their way out because they can’t breathe.

Of course, there’s a calculated risk of injury to dogpiles. In 2010, UCLA second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla broke his wrist during a dogpile as the Bruins celebrated a Super Regional win over Cal-State Fullerton. At the time, Rahmatulla had started all 61 games, batting third in the order in most- for UCLA, who would end up losing to South Carolina two games to none in the championship series. [This year, UCLA’s dogpiling worked out a lot better!]

For obvious reasons, coaches would obviously prefer that their teams dogpile after their seasons have come to an end, however they’re virtually impossible to prevent at the conclusion of conference tournaments. Black eyes and broken noses can be commonplace during dogpiles, which typically wrap up when players on the bottom of the pile plead, “get off!”

Another thing that makes the dogpile extra special is that it’s a players (and on some occasions, coaches)-only celebration; no storming the court or tearing down goalposts. While it can be alarming to see a couple dozen 200-plus pound, metal spike-wearing players jump on one another, the pure joy that is evident in these celebrations is hard to ignore. University of Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor agrees, “I love the dog pile, at the appropriate time – a championship. The players work hard all year long and I want to them to enjoy the feeling of success and winning a championship.”

For our money, there’s not another celebration in sports that’s even close to the emotion-packed, unabated and unrehearsed dogpile. The childlike jubilance exhibited in these instances instantly provides lifelong memories for whoever happens to be involved, far outlasting any bumps or bruises sustained during the act. As Hall of Famer Roy Campanella so eloquently put it, “you got to be a man to play baseball… but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too.”