Lauren McDonald | Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 5:00 pm
Herschel Walker’s jersey, a football signed by the 1980 championship team and tickets to a 1929 football game are on display along with other pieces of University of Georgia football history at the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Libraries.
The library will give free Football Friday Tours of the “Leather Helmets and Silver Britches: Georgia’s Football Heritage” exhibit every Friday afternoon before home games this season — including this Friday at 3 p.m. The exhibit features football memorabilia from the UGA Athletic Association Archives and will be on display until November 27.
The exhibit includes trophies, historic photographs, championship rings and drawings of old football plays.
Jason Hasty, a staff worker for UGA Libraries, helped put the exhibit together by going through the archives and selecting which items to feature.
“We were really just looking to put the tradition of the football program in perspective,” Hasty said.
Jean Cleveland, a public relations specialist for UGA Libraries, said the first tour on Sept. 6 had at least 50 participants, most of whom were students.
“We really think that as the season goes along, we’ll get bigger and bigger crowds,” Cleveland said. “That’s what we were hoping for.”
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network featured the exhibit during a break in the UGA versus the University of South Carolina game on Sept. 7.
Cleveland said this was the first time a library had been featured on ESPN.
One of the many items the exhibit uses to appeal to UGA football history buffs is the tribute paid to Von Gammon, a football player who became the first UGA player to die during a game in 1897. As a result, the state legislature considered banning football at state institutions.
Von Gammon’s mother wrote a letter to Governor William Y. Atkinson, asking him not to approve a ban on the sport her son had loved.
A telegraph from “Pop” Warner, the head football coach at the time, in which he expressed his regret at not being able to attend Von Gammon’s memorial service, is also on display.
Frank Sinkwich’s No. 21 jersey and Herschel Walker’s No. 34 jersey, two of the four retired UGA jerseys, can be seen. Both Sinkwich and Walker were Heisman Trophy winners in their respective times at UGA.
The exhibit also includes a photograph of Charles Herty, who brought football to UGA in 1892 and served as the first head coach, defeating Mercer 50-0 in UGA’s first football game.
Also on display are a medical kit and a megaphone, as a nod to the other aspects of football besides the players on the field.
Caroline Killens, an archivist for UGA Libraries, said there were more interesting items in the extensive archive than could be featured in the exhibit.
“We had a lot of materials we were unable to display because of space,” Killens said.
The exhibit is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The building is not open on days of home football games.