Yale hero Green Campbell always wanted to play baseball for LSU, the team he helped to beat

By Joel Alderman

Green Campbell (2)
Campbell did damage both with his bat and his glove in Yale’s win over No. 1 LSU. (Photo: Yale Sports Publicity)

The center fielder featured in our last story, who made the widely acclaimed diving catch that can now be seen on YouTube; to preserve Yale’s startling victory over LSU Sunday, turns out to be part of an amazing story in his own right.

Green Campbell is anything but a household name in New Haven, and probably not even one that stands out above any other on the Yale campus.

Little about him has been generally known in and around New Haven, except perhaps that he seems to have an unusual first name, he is a junior at Yale, and  he plays college baseball during the cold New England springs.

But all of a sudden he is known for  making a spectacular, diving catch that enabled his Bulldogs to hold a one run lead and go on to a huge upset win over Louisiana State University. At the time LSU held the No. 1 ranking in one of the national polls, while the Ivy Leaguers were certainly not on anyone’s list of baseball powers.

Most sports fans here in Connecticut are not yet even thinking in terms of baseball, with snow and ice on the ground and frigid temperatures in the air. Basketball and hockey are still the games in vogue, especially at Yale which is now in the post season on the ice and fighting for a tournament berth on the hardwood.

But during all this frigid winter a group of Yale students, known as the baseball team, was busy in heated Coxe Cage in hopes better weather would enable them to go outdoors for at least a few normal practice sessions.

But the winter that everyone seems to be complaining about had never let up when the team and John Stuper’s coaching staff packed up for a weekend trip to warmer climes in Louisiana.

A southern welcome of mild temperatures and a blowout loss 

When they played and were blown out, 19-0, on Friday night, it was the first time this year the team was on a baseball field. Contrast that with the Tigers who had already played eight games, preceded by weeks of practice in game-like weather.

The next day was much better. Yale only gave up three runs, but still could not cross the plate,

Sunday the Bulldogs quickly fell behind 6-0, making the cumulative score at that point 28-0, LSU, over 22 innings.

Then Yale staged its winning comeback, highlighted by Campbell’s storybook catch, as described in our previous story. Afterwards, he admitted to reporters that he wanted to be an LSU Tiger his whole life. “Growing up, I was a huge LSU fan.”

And his grandfather said “Green always wanted to play for LSU.”

He never did, but he did get the opportunity to play against LSU in the Tigers’ lair, where he was to save the day for his Bulldogs, getting two hits and making the big catch.

 Did Yale have some extra motivation?

The Bulldogs were facing an opponent with a familiar nickname, the Tigers. That also happens to be what Yale’s second biggest big rival, Princeton, uses as its symbolic mascot. Could it be that the Yale players wanted to believe they were facing their Ivy League opponent from New Jersey instead of a national power in Louisiana? Doubtful of course. But we can’t resist throwing in the similarity.

But for Green Campbell, the story of the game is only part of a bigger picture.

Green Campbell’s Louisiana roots

It seems that Campbell was really the main reason Yale was playing in Baton Rouge, La., in the first place.

He comes from Shreveport- not much farther from Baton Rouge than New York City is from New Haven. He went to Byrd High School there. Nothing remarkable yet.

But here it gets more intriguing…

Within the LSU Academic Center for Student-Athletes, there is an auditorium-lecture theater. It bears the name of Bo Campbell, who played football at LSU in the early 1960s, is now a banking executive and benefactor of the university, and a past president of ‘its Tiger Athletic Foundation. The name Campbell is the same as that of the Yale baseball player who is the subject of this article.

But that’s not a coincidence in names  because young Green Campbell is the grandson of Bo Campbell.

Bo Campbell Auditorium
Bo Campbell Auditorium (Photo courtesy: LSU)

Since most any caring grandfather would want to see his grandson play college baseball, especially close to home, Bo Campbell made a call to the LSU coach after his grandson was admitted to Yale in 2011.

He asked coach Paul Mainieri if he might want to schedule Yale.

According to Glenn Guilbeau, a sports writer for the Shreveport Times, Mainieri said “it didn’t hurt that Bo Campbell makes large donations to LSU and has (an auditorium) named after him.”

So the weekend series came to fruition this year.

Bo Campbell, along with Green’s father, Chris, Sr., and a large group of friends and relatives, were part of the 10,000-plus crowd at LSU’s Alex Box Stadium, a state of the art college baseball showplace that is named after an LSU outfielder who was killed in action during World War II.

“We’ve been waiting for three years for that game,” Bo said.

And Chris Campbell had this comment about his son’s catch. “I knew there was a good chance he’d make it. I’ve seen him make catches like that before, and his teammates tell me he makes amazing catches in practice all the time. But he’s never made a catch like that on that type of stage.”

Now about the name, Green

How does someone get to have a name the same as a color, especially green? The answer is that color has nothing to do with it. Green it is not his actual name. He is one of many people, especially athletes, whose nicknames become so frequently used, that even close friends don’t know (or care) what their correct given names are.

For the record, however, it is- Christopher Greenwood Campbell, Jr. Instead, he is referred to by the first syllable of his middle name, Greenwood, and forever more he shall be known simply as Green.

Yale baseball fans don’t care whether he is called Green, Orange, Purple or any other color in the rainbow, as long as he continues to make more catches like the one he did on March 2, 2014, that helped Yale beat LSU, the college for which he always wanted to play.

Bibliography

Guilbeau, Glenn.  (2014, March 4, 2014). Former Tiger back Bo Campbell had a hand in scheduling Yale at LSU. Shreveport Times. Retrieved from http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20140304/SPORTS0402/303040029/Glenn-Guilbeau-Former-Tiger-back-Bo-Campbell-had-hand-scheduling-Yale-LSU

 

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