Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania

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by Warren St. John, Warren St John
     
 

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What is it about sports that turns otherwise sane people into raving lunatics? Why does winning compel people to tear down goal posts, and losing, to drown themselves in bad keg beer? In short, why do fans care?

In search of answers, Warren St. John seeks out the roving community of RVers who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide from game to game. A movable feast of

Overview

What is it about sports that turns otherwise sane people into raving lunatics? Why does winning compel people to tear down goal posts, and losing, to drown themselves in bad keg beer? In short, why do fans care?

In search of answers, Warren St. John seeks out the roving community of RVers who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide from game to game. A movable feast of Weber grills and Igloo coolers, these are hard-core football fans who arrive on Wednesday for Saturday’s game: The Reeses, who skipped their own daughter’s wedding because it coincided with a Bama game; Ray Pradat, the Episcopal minister who watches the games on a television beside his altar while performing weddings; and John Ed, the wheeling and dealing ticket scalper whose access to good seats gives him power on par with the governor. In no time at all, St. John buys an RV (a $5,500 beater named The Hawg) and joins the caravan for a full football season, chronicling the world of the extreme fan and learning that in the shadow of the stadium, it can all begin to seem strangely normal.

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is not only a hilarious travel story, but a cultural anthropology of fans that goes a long way toward demystifying the universal urge to take sides and to win.

Editorial Reviews

Charles Salzberg
In the delightfully witty Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey Into the Heart of Fan Mania, Warren St. John, a Times reporter, joins the nomad community of University of Alabama fans who follow the Crimson Tide from game to game in their colorfully decorated R.V.'s, arriving at stadium parking lots to party sometimes a full two or three days before the game
The New York Times
Franklin Foer
The success of these portraits owes much to Mr. St. John's ear for dialogue - a gift well suited to Alabama, where the citizens he encounters speak in a Southern fried slang that somehow never grows tiresome. They bust out exclamatory lines like "oh, horse hockey!"; deride enemies as "mullet heads"; and describe beautiful belles who "really crank my tractor."
Publishers Weekly
St. John, a New York Times reporter and native Alabaman, explores the nature of extreme sports fandom in this compelling and funny audiobook. Over the course of five months, St. John follows the University of Alabama's football team in his own RV and connects with the "RV culture," fans for whom game day is simply the focal point of a celebration that can last for days. Some of the fans he encounters are indeed extreme-like the couple that skipped their daughter's wedding because it took place on game day, or the man who risks having his name taken off a heart transplant list, declaring "If I can't go to Alabama football games, what's the point in living?" But St. John's focus is less on these eccentric characters than on the general culture, in which football fetishism has been completely integrated into everyday life. St. John has a pronounced lisp, which is jarring at first, but it quickly becomes endearing. And while his character voices all sound like variations on the loud-dumb-Southern-guy theme, he approaches his narration with the gusto and enthusiasm of a fervent fan, which succeeds in getting listeners into the spirit of this fun, insightful tale. Simultaneous release with the Crown hardcover (Forecasts, June 14). (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In these books, authors St. John and Glennon follow two football teams-the University of Alabama and the New England Patriots, respectively-through a dramatic season, hoping along the way to do a pop cultural, anthropological study of the American fan. As a result of their reporting among the faithful, we learn that fans can often be truly fanatical, but anyone hoping for deep insights into their psychology will be disappointed. Both books are essentially entertaining romps, with New York Times reporter St. John hanging with the RV tailgater crowd following the Crimson Tide and Boston-area journalist Glennon watching Patriots games with groups of women fans, at gay bars, and in a Sears electronics department. (St. John, who bought an RV for the book, does speak briefly about the history and social psychology of fans and crowds.) Despite all the fun the authors seem to have in their travels, they note some disturbing tendencies among many fans: large-scale drunkenness, racism, and homophobia, and a strong "us/them" mentality, causing St. John to note that "being a sports fan is as much about opposing as advocating." Still, both authors portray a football game as a pretty perfect place to be on an autumn weekend, and both books are recommended for medium to large public libraries, especially those in Alabama and New England.-Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-With the intent of investigating hard-core "fandom" in all its extreme manifestations, St. John, an Alabama native and lifelong fan of the Crimson Tide, spent a season commingling with those who trail this college football team from stadium to stadium. He purchased a motor home and joined the dedicated crowd that often arrived for the Saturday game on Wednesday, jamming the roadways of the host town and jockeying for prime parking in lots where they quickly deployed all of the amenities of ongoing tailgate parties. The narrative is lively and entertaining, punctuated by rich regional speech patterns and sports-related profanity. A modest amount of space is devoted to analyzing fan moods/behaviors from a sociological standpoint (why fandom "is as much about opposing as advocating"), but the greater portion of the book consists of memorably drawn portraits of the regulars in the crowd, including a couple who skipped their daughter's wedding because it conflicted with a game. The coach, the team, their stats, and headline-generating plays are certainly on scene, but it is the fan action that St. John captures with empathy and wit.-Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
New York Times reporter St. John spends a season road tripping in an RV with the University of Alabama football fan clubWho are these people, the journalist wonders, who follow the Crimson Tide literally week to week, stadium to stadium? How do they do it-haven't they got jobs? Why do they do it-haven't they got lives? So the intrepid St. John joined their ranks, a move made easier by his status as an old Alabama fan and the confounded but enthusiastic new owner of a low-rent RV. From time to time the author feels the need to spout a little sports psychology (sports fans are brighter than non-fans! they pop more endorphins, are more fulfilled and physically active!), and he doesn't do much better when trying to get a bead on what makes the fans tick ("just love," remarks one gentleman; "the bug bit me," says another). Thankfully, the whole angle of trying to understand things gets lost under a fabulous wash of incidents and encounters. A paramedic administering to a heart-attack victim in the stands is told to get out of the way. An RVer offers St. John a tomato with the warning, " ‘Thems 'maters so hot they'll make you wanna slap yo mamma'. . . . It takes me a moment to realize that the man means this as a good thing." Bigots will catch the author off guard, and scalpers will become his friends; he is able to capture them in startling, frozen images, or to build up a long-term portrait as this gallery of rogues and acquaintances reveals itself over the season, adoring football, their team, and its traditions, wishing to give it all a long embrace. St. John is never mocking and has no intention of turning the RVing Alabama football fan pack into a freak show, but he ushers their fleeting,intense, Manichean world before the limelight to trip its weird stuff. Existentialism of the purest sort-that is, it includes laughter. Agent: Elyse Cheney/Sanford Greenburger Associates
From the Publisher
“An ode to fandom.” —Newsweek

“St. John brings a singular empathy for his subjects. . . . These oversized personalities are rendered with irresistible zeal and light up the book like a stadium scoreboard.” —New York Times

"An unreconstructed fan of Alabama football, exiled in New York, Warren St. John goes home to join the Crimson Tide's most rabid supporters as they roll across the South. His four-mile-a-gallon odyssey through the sun, suds, and stink of tailgate culture is a fresh and funny take on the American road trip—and an affectionate yet unsentimental look at Southern life, from belles who chug beer and bray from the stands, to fundamentalists who forgive any sin except a losing season. Like his hero, Bear Bryant, St. John has crafted a winner." —Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic

"What does it really mean to be a sports fan? For the millions of us who are, Warren St. John captures our passion with hilarity, absurdity and poignancy. He just gets our religion. And Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is a marvelous journey into the soul of sports in America. A great ride in the tradition of Hunter Thompson and an even better read." —H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights

"A remarkable and funny book about obsession in America by a really fine writer." — Gay Talese

"Sports fandom is a phenomenon that has so far baffled the field of psychology.  The professionals haven't a clue.  They should read this book.  Warren St. John takes us to where the rubber meets the road." — Tom Wolfe

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739315767
Publisher:
Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/03/2004
Edition description:
Abridged, 4 CDs, 5 hrs.
Product dimensions:
4.00(w) x 4.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Hallways on Wheels

Does anyone know where I might be able to locate a pic of the New Bama Logo? I want a pic large enough to print and use for a tattoo that would be about 6 to 7 inches tall. —Bulletin board post from Ed Hames, aka "Bamafanforlife"

So I have a mission, but there are certain logistical issues I have to work out. How exactly does one join an RV caravan? I could always simply show up at the parking lot of the first game of the season, against Vanderbilt in Nashville, and impose myself. I have a trump card in the form of that photograph of Bear Bryant and me, which I figure for Alabama fans might act as a kind of press pass to the soul. There is another strategy more enticing than simply crashing the party: trying to get invited to it, on someone else's RV. But resolving to get invited aboard a stranger's motor home and actually getting invited, I learn in short order, are two very different things. Absent an attempt to track down a specific RV like the Reeses', I find that in the summer months it's oddly difficult to locate any RV-ers at all. The RVs that fill the highways and stadium lots in the fall seem to disappear without a trace in the warmer months, perhaps parked by their owners in backyards in a kind of inverse hibernation, or perhaps driven out west to tour the national parks. There are no Alabama fan motor home associations to contact; there is no Bama RV Club. Perhaps the whole point of RV-ing is to disconnect from the grid to chase after one's passions; to such people, the inability to be organized—or even found—could be a kind of virtue. So I go to the one place where even the least organized and most elusive people are sure to have a presence: the Internet.

There are literally hundreds of Alabama fan sites—TiderInsider.com, BamaMag.com, Bam"nline.com are the biggest, along with countless personal pages, the cyberspace equivalent of bumper stickers, where fans declare their love of the team for anyone who happens to click by. None, though, are devoted to RV-ers. I sign up for an e-mail listserv called Bamafan, a kind of live wire into the collective unconsciousness of Alabama fans, and within minutes of my signing up, e-mails begin to appear in my mailbox at a machine-gun rate from people with names like Bamadog, Krymsonman, Crimson Jim, and the Alabama Slamma. I've tuned in to to a kind of philosophical debate: Are there any circumstances under which it is permissible for an Alabama fan to pull for Tennessee? A fan named Tommy e-mails the group that when a Tennessee win would benefit Alabama, he actually finds himself humming "Rocky Top," the Tennessee fight song.

"You certainly don't know what it's like to really hate Tennessee if you pull for them AT ALL," a poster named Tiderollin' responds. "I'd cheer for Florida, Auburn, Notre Dame, Russia, and the University of Hell before the words 'rocky top' would ever come out of my mouth."

I send the group an e-mail of my own explaining my mission and asking, with the sort of straight-forwardness I expect someone like Tiderollin' might appreciate, if anyone would be willing to offer me berth aboard a motor home. Within a few hours, responses begin to trickle in. A woman replies offering to tell me the story of how she came to have the word Bama tattooed on her leg. Another offers the use of some photographs he thinks might go well in a book about Alabama fans:

My family are all BAMA grads . . . and we all made a trip in '95 to China. I have a shot of all of us holding a large BAMA flag on the Great Wall of China just outside of Beijing. If you are interested in using this photo in your book we could probably work something out.

I get a number of other encouraging e-mails, wishing me luck, but no invites on RVs. Eventually, Bamadog writes to suggest I contact Tide Pride, the booster office of the University of Alabama. "They may or may not have information on the people you're looking for," he writes helpfully, before signing off, "Dawg."

It turns out even University of Alabama officials are at a loss to name the people who crowd their campus on game weekends. A man named Wayne at the school's booster office laughs when I explain my mission, then quickly tries to dissuade me. RV-ers, he says, can be disagreeable people. "They show up on Monday and park where students are supposed to park," he says. "We tell 'em, 'You gotta wait till Friday afternoon to park there,' and they just get upset with you. Some of these people feel like they deserve everything. It gets too much sometimes. They's people who go too far." It seems significant that a university official charged with inciting fan zeal believes the RV-ers are too zealous. I sense that Wayne is reluctant to help me; something like 95 percent of the RV-ers, he says, never attended the university—they simply like the football team. The implication is that while the university had no role in shaping these disagreeable people, it has to answer for them. I press for names.

"You could try a fellow in Clanton," Wayne grumbles before hanging up. "Name is Skeeter Stokes."

Skeeter Stokes answers when I call and is happy to talk. He's the semiretired owner and manager of the Clanton Chevrolet dealership and has been going to Alabama games for thirty years. He still attends most home games, he says, in an Allegro motor home, typically with a Chevy Blazer in tow—a kind of escape pod once the mother ship is fully set up in the lot. Stokes is eighty-five years old and, at least on the phone, sounds every bit his age. The image of an eighty-five-year-old man on the highway in a vehicle the size of a Greyhound—with an SUV in tow—is sobering. Perhaps this is what Wayne means about going too far.

The rest of our conversation yields two bits of valuable information. The first is that there is no way in hell—his words—that I'll be invited to spend a weekend with Skeeter Stokes aboard his RV. Second: Over the years Stokes has compiled a list of names and phone numbers of RV-ers he's met at Alabama games.

"It's out in the motor home," he tells me. "You welcome to it."

So I spend the next few days working my way down Stokes's list. My first call is to a man named Wayne Snead of Snead, Alabama, the owner of a $400,000 Bluebird motor home. Mr. Snead of Snead isn't into the hard-drinking life around the stadium; he and his wife prefer to be near the team, so they stay in the parking lot of the team's hotel. I speak to a man named Rudy Valley, whose job—leasing beach furniture to a significant portion of the Florida panhandle—neatly conforms to the seasonal rhythms of football; he closes shop just before the first kickoff each year. Valley puts me in touch with a moderately coherent man known to me only as "The Night Mayor," because of his insomniac tendency to wander the lot into the morning hours. When pronounced with an Alabama drawl, the name is a pun on "nightmare," a fair description, I'm told, of this man after a few drinks. The Night Mayor gives me the number of a friend, a motor-homing Bama fan who, by coincidence, happens to own a bar. And so on.

Whatever alarm these people feel at having a stranger ask details of their personal lives is offset by the flattery of encountering a stranger who is interested. Each has a story about going too far, a story or bit of personal data they report with an ambivalent mixture of shame and pride. Wayne Snead tells me about the time he drove to an uncle's wake in his fully provisioned RV, ready to hit the road as soon as he'd paid his respects. Rudy Valley boasts that he has $200,000 worth of Alabama football memorabilia in his home and that his motor home cost him more than his actual house. A man in Delaware named Jeremy tells me of his hard-fought but ultimately successful effort to convince his wife to name their daughter Crimson. And these aren't social misfits, at least not exactly. Wayne runs a successful farm supply business in Snead. Rudy Valley's beach furniture leasing business is among the most successful in Florida. Jeremy has a Ph.D. in molecular biology.

Besides being zealots for the Crimson Tide, most everyone I speak with shares something else in common: a belief that the world does not understand them. Each has a story of mockery at the hands of spouses, coworkers, or friends. Each has in his life the equivalent of the Reeses' daughter—someone who has tested, provoked, and frustrated them, someone who didn't just not understand but who actively agitated against their obsession, who made the frustrating (although perfectly rational) argument that a lifetime's outlay of energy and emotion for a sports team was not recoupable, no matter how many victories or championships.

I figure this feeling of being unappreciated may be my in. What we fans need, I argue, is for a reporter to tag along in one of their RVs for a season and to translate the experience for everybody else, to make them understand. With this, everyone heartily agrees. There is certainly no more deserving subject matter for a book, the fans say, than fans themselves. And when I suggest that I should be that reporter and my interview subject should be that Alabama fan, and that we should spend a few months together on an RV, the reply is always the same: Not on your life.

I'm near the end of Skeeter Stokes's list when I place a call to a man named Corky Williford from Dothan, Alabama, who as quickly as anyone lets me know that I will not be riding with him and his wife at any point during the football season. Williford nevertheless seems friendly enough—he tells me I'm welcome anytime to visit his RV at the stadium, to eat barbecue and "drink good booze," as he puts it. So I ask, based on his knowledge of the convoy, what the chances are of my getting a single invitation.

"Not good, son," Williford says, not unsympathetically. "There's a saying: no matter how big a motor home is, it's only built for two. Once you get in one, no matter how big it is, it's just a hallway on wheels." My best bet, Williford says, is to get a motel room near Vanderbilt Stadium on the first weekend of the season, and then to glom on the RV scene there. I thank him for the insight and resolve to begin my reporting on foot.

Two days later, I receive the following e-mail:
Saw your post on Bamafan . . . we live in South Carolina, but you're welcome to join us from here. ROLL TIDE!!! —Chris & Paula Bice

Chris and Paula Bice, I learn in subsequent e-mails, live in Simpsonville, South Carolina, outside Greenville, and travel to games in something called a Winnebago Warrior. Chris Bice e-mails a photograph; if the typical motor home is a hallway on wheels, as Williford said, this is a linen closet. It's short and boxy and looks more or less like the Crimson Express cut in half. I'm in no position to get uppity about the make and model of motor home I'll stoop to travel in, so I find myself in an interesting position: doing everything I possibly can to join two perfect strangers for a weekend in what amounts to a modestly large car. Bice tells me to call him at work, so on a weekday in early August I oblige. He answers in a deep, edgy baritone, and seems excited to hear from me.

"Hey, Roll Tide," he says when I introduce myself.

"Roll Tide" is Alabama's battle cry, but among fans, it's the ultimate all-purpose phrase, like prego in Italian or namaste in Nepali, an acceptable substitute for hello, goodbye, nice to meet you, and Amen.

"Roll Tide," I say.

We chat for a few minutes about the team—Bice has high hopes, mainly because of Shaun Alexander, the Tide's star running back. I ask how many games Bice expects to attend.

"We're going to all of them this year except the away game at Florida," he says. "Florida is where I might end up killing somebody."

Bice leaves me to mull this comment as he tends to a squawking radio in the background. I hear him blurt a string of unintelligible numbers and commands—he's obviously a dispatcher of some kind. He picks up the phone again, and I get a few biographical details: he and his wife Paula are in their midthirties and are both originally from Birmingham. They've been Alabama fans since childhood; their first date was to the 1983 Alabama-Ole Miss game, which Alabama won 40-0. The Bices started RV-ing to games in Paula's parents' Winnebago Brave, and later in their thirty-three-foot Itasca Windcruiser, a "lap-of-luxury type thing," Chris says. Paula's father died in a car fire in 1991, and they got rid of the Itasca. A few years later Chris and Paula began to peruse the classifieds in the Greenville News for their own motor home. They bought the Warrior, used, for twenty-five grand.

About my invitation, Chris says, there's just one thing. He's hasn't exactly cleared it with Paula. "I'm fine with it," he says. "But she said, you know, 'What if he's a weirdo or something?' I said, 'Hey Paula, that's the whole point: we're the weirdos.' " Apparently Paula was unmoved by this line of thinking. So Chris and I agree to a tentative plan: I'll drive from New York to South Carolina on the Thursday before the game, go out with the Bices to a local farm league baseball game, and if I don't register code red on Paula's internal serial killer detector, we'll leave for Nashville on Friday morning. The radio squawks and Bice asks me to hold. I hear him chattering into a microphone, then distinctly, the words "Clear to land."

"What do you do for a living?" I ask when Bice picks up the phone.

"Air traffic control."

"Do you need to go?"

"No, it's pretty slow right now."

Later I ask Bice if he'll be taking his Winnebago to all the games or if he'll fly.

"Oh I don't fly," he says.

"Why not?"

"It's not safe," he says, and hangs up laughing.

Meet the Author

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Warren St. John is a reporter for the New York Times and has written for The New Yorker, the New York Observer, and Wired. He lives in New York.

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Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Daniel1322 More than 1 year ago
My name is Daniel, and I am a student at Hewitt-Trussville High School in Alabama. The book "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer" is a great book not only for Alabama fans but for anyone that enjoys sports. The book chronicles the experiences of an Alabama fan that follows the team around for a season in an RV. He describes many of the most dedicated fans he meets, including a family from South Carolina, a rich chicken farmer, and a ticket broker. He also discusses some of the psychology behind fandom and what makes people act so differently at a sporting event. The book was a fairly easy read. It is very humorous throughout, and keeps your attention. You do not necessarily have to be a Bama fan to appreciate many of the stories and people he meets. I personally am a Crimson Tide fan who has attended several games, and can relate with some of his experiences. That made the book more enjoyable for me, but any average fan would find it interesting as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cullen More than 1 year ago
I want to start by saying that this was the perfect book for any Alabama football fan. And actually you dont have to be an Alabama football fan to like this book. Warren St. John did a great job of documenting his crazy times and ups and downs of Fan mania. He actually had me remembering times of when I cried after Alabama lost to Utah in that heart breaking loss in the sugar Bowl. I love how he went through so much trouble to document the perfect story .He also did a great job of finding the absolute craziest Alabama fans. I thought I was a big Alabama fan but then I read about the guy that missed his daughters wedding for a football game, I cant say I wouldn't do the same but he actually went through with it. Also the chicken put my Faness to shame by buying that million dollar RV so he could tailgate at the Alabama games in complete luxury. He also surprisingly did a good job of Documenting the football games too. He gave almost a play by play description of each game except for the Mississippi state game but its not like that will make a huge difference. He also pointed out some good eating spots for when you go to an Alabama football game. Such as the crimson breakfast bar where they serve Alabama shaped A pancakes on game day. I loved the book and I enjoyed hime documenting fans from rich people to poor people and crazy people to regular people. I loved this book. Roll Tide.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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JPHayes More than 1 year ago
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer by Warren St. John is about the true meaning of being a sports fan. St. John begins by telling personal stories about his love for sports. In college, he decides to write a book about the nature of real fans. St. John begins riding with Alabama fans that follow the football team to all their games in RVs. This book has many funny and interesting stories about his encounters with these fans.
I really enjoyed the stories that he has to offer throughout the book. I also appreciate how much research St. John had to do in order to create this work. St. John has the exceptional ability to paint a picture of his journey. He tells some very funny and intriguing stories. This book was able to capture my attention and make me want to read for long periods of time. I can¿t really think of anything I disliked about this book.
I think that this book would be great for all those sports fans out there. This book is not about the game itself, but more about how we as fans react. This book points out that we as sports fans can somehow allow our emotions to change because of the outcome of a game that we have no connection with. This was probably one of my favorite books that I have ever read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. Being an avid sports fan i can totally relate to this book. The thing about this book that I really enjoyed was that Warren St. John didn't exagerate the facts at all. This was a very real book. When St. John talked about the couple who skipped their daughters wedding to go to a game I even thought that was a little far-fetched then i thought about it and realized I know some people that are like that. I know that this probably isn't the book for everyone but I loved it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is the story of Warren St. John's trip through 'fan mania'. He travels with the Alabama Tide's RV'ers to every game trying to understand where the passion for football comes from. Passion is a major theme displayed throughout the book. The fans have undying support for the team and they typically attend every game. Another theme is the team's perservance to always achieve more. Even in times of loss the team always strives to be more. The team faces trials and tribulations. I really liked this book. It incorporates history, tradition and today in one novel. I did not like how St. John put so much detail into every event. It gets a little excessive. You should read this for a light hearted fun book. I give this book four stars. It is a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the moment I opened the book i was amazed by the fact that St. John could combine history, opinion, and traditon so easily. The best thing about this novel is the fact that everything that Warren says is how it is. I actually know one of the football fanatics he describes... amazing huh?
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found the book to be a quick and enjoyable read. I found myself laughing out loud several times. The Tide have become my second favorite college team. Go Irish!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rammer....Is a fantastic look into the dedication of Alabama Crimson Tide faithful and provokes the feeling that many of us have for our college teams. The author takes a simple subject, fans and their dedication, and turns it into a great reality tour and lives the dream! This book is for anyone that has a great love and passion for college football. Well researched and creative, Rammer has a solid cast of characters that are easy to relate to, and is peppered with humor. It's the perfect read during college football season, and I couldn't put the book down. A perfect mix of game descriptions through a 'Bama season and the events leading up to each game...It makes you want to go out and do it yourself, just like the author did, as you'll find out just how much by reading Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer! Great book, and with incredible description-and highly recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because I read a New York Times review comparing it to Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby, one of my favorite sports books of all times. I didn't know what to expect because it was hard to see how a book about driving RVs to football games could compare to a memoir about being a soccer fan, but I was blown away for several reasons. First of all the book is hilarious without being cliched or unsympathetic towards the characters, some of whom are lets face it, pretty crazy southern country folks. Secondly the writing is like ten notches above the writing of most football books. Thirdly, like Fever Pitch it totally opened my eyes to the experience of what I go through as a fan. With both books I had the feeling that the authors were writing about things I experienced even though I wasn't there myself. I found that pretty impressive because I'm not a soccer fan or a college football fan, at least not in the major obsessed sense. So if you are the type of fan who is curious about the whole experience of being a fan and also who likes to laugh, you will love this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This account of Alabama football is a cautionary tale for RV owners, especially those considering buying a used Allegro. Breakdowns, repairs and maintenance are much a part of RVing as Warren St. John shows so well describing the black water spills and annoying electrical glitches he encountered. As the old saying goes: If it has wheels, it's going to have to be fixed, and if it has a sewage tank, it's going to have leaks. My advice for newbies is always to start with a mechanically sound RV, and you can live with the creature discomforts, and make sure you keep a good repair manual by your side. Warren shelled out $5,500 for his Allegro, which was a generous price for 1978, but he's not retired like us who don't have a salary from the New York Times and need those extra dollars. He put another $1,200 into making the Allegro roadworthy. Anyone in the park could have told him that's hardly enough to prevent the emergencies and breakdowns on the way to games. He got frustrated when the Allegro broke down in Mississippi, but the whole idea of leisurely RV travel is to do it at your own pace, and my advice is he should allow extra time to get there so he can take care of life's little problems. My wife looked at the book for recipes but couldn't find any she could use. I tried the Bama Bomb and I liked that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am extremely attention deficit and can't pay attention to any.....wait, what was that on TV? Anyhow, for me to sit down and finish a book in one sitting means it has to be very very good. I imagined myself as one of those guys years from now when I can retire and can follow my team around the country.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yawn. Same old cardboard cut-outs of rednecks and low-lifes TV soap operas serve up every day. Warren St. John covers little ground not already well turned over by John Madden's 'Ultimate Tailgating,' and other books about regional parking lot parties at football games. I would have given it one star if it didn't talk about Bama.
Guest More than 1 year ago
St. John has really accomplished something here. He has given fans a voice and non-fans an explanation. Answering the question every fan has asked at some point, 'why do I care so much,' RJYH is a funny, poignant and intelligent discussion about fans. Anyone who loves a sports team will love this book, and anyone who loves a fan needs to read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A really good book for anyone who considers him or herself a 'Fan', a great book if you are a Alabama Crimson Tide Football Fan. The book takes you on a journey through an entire college football season in 1999 with the traveling gang of 800 RV,s as they go cross country from game to game. The writer looks into the psychology of what it means to be a sports fan. Very funny and entertaining to the end. I read this book in about 8 hours over two days, something I very rarely do. A fun non-fiction roller coaster ride!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a writer and an Alabama alumnus myself, I admit I was a bit concerned when I first met Warren St. John in the RV lot before one of the games he tells about in this book. Concerned on two accounts. First worry: he seemed to be a nice enough fellow, but he did work for the NY Times. That's the way he was invariably introduced to everyone in the lot, sort of like politely pointing out a slightly addled third cousin at a family reunion. I assumed he would come at us serious college football fans (read: 'crazy as a loon') from the usual perspective. You know: rubes bearing rolls of toilet paper and a Tide detergent box impaled on a 'plumber's friend.' screaming crimson-tinged obscenities at anyone ignorant enough to root for anybody else. Either that or, coming from where he did, he would miss the whole point, that these folks may act a bit peculiar when they pull their RVs into the Law Library lot on Wednesday before a Saturday game, but they are mostly salt-of-the-earth types, people you are proud to have in your army, just like millions of other folks who color their lives in pursuit of pastimes or allegiances that seem absolutely goofy to most of the rest of us right-thinking intellectuals. Certainly no different from rabid Red Sox or Cubs fans, the Dawg Pound in Cleveland or the crazies who show up for Raider games. Just different in the color of our face-paint and the poetry of our cheers. Our poison just happens to be 18-year-old young men on a college football field who proudly sweat and bleed while wearing our school colors. But then, it turns out that St. John is one of us. He understands. And yet he is a good enough reporter to tell the truth about us, warts and all, and do it in an informative and entertaining way. There's the rub. As a writer, I'm damned envious. Man, this guy can put us right in the middle of a tailgate party, a fourth-and-goal with the clock running down, or a scholarly dissertation on the nature of fandom in ancient Rome as it applies to college sports and make it all read like a lazy conversation over a Coors Light at a bar on the Tuscaloosa strip. St. John had me hooked right up front when he described Bear Bryant's 'old growth stature.' Bingo! That's a goodie! This, by the way, is not a college football book. No more than HUCK FINN is a book about a raft. This is a very funny, sometimes serious, often moving, and an always entertaining examination of a phenomenon that surprisingly few have really tried to dissect before. I hope it helps others see why we do the things we do in the name of our beloved Crimson Tide, or whoever 'our team' happens to be. Or gives us better insight into the psyches of the fans of the Red Sox, Cubs, Browns, and Raiders. Maybe even a glimpse into the thought processes of those poor, misguided souls who pull for the Tennessee Vols or Auburn Tigers. No. Belay that. That would be asking too much of any book or writer. Thanks, Warren. You took the ball over the top, into the end zone, and we're huggin' and high-fivin' and lettin' loose a rousing rendition of Rammer Jammer that they'll hear all the way to wherever we tee up the ball next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a casual sports fan whose allegiances run shallow, except for the Army-Navy game, I was surprised to find the pages of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer turning faster and faster as the story of one crazy fan¿s RV adventure following Alabama football consumed my weekend. I shook my head at the rich characters, knowing more than my fair share of the types, laughed at the glorious mishaps and jokes, read out great lines to folks who wonder what the hubbub was all about, commiserated with the losses, and even at times questioned where I went to school and the teams I long ago rooted for . . . and yes, by the end of the weekend I was speaking with a slight southern twang. An excellent, well-written book for a great read that would appeal to any one interested in human nature, with a love for life, and a hearty funny bone.