SAUGET — Gateway Grizzlies fan Pat Hayes and son Michael have been on a journey since the college football season started in August and it all began at GCS Ballpark.
The father-son duo from Fairview Heights have been to every University of Missouri football game, home and road, during a 11-1 dream season for the Tigers.
The voyage began in early August at GCS Ballpark, but the idea came up in the spring of 2013, back when Missouri football was picked to finish near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference.
"We used a Grizzlies game in August to figure out how we would set up things for tailgate and prepare for gameday," Pat Hayes said. "I wasn't sure how many people tailgated before baseball games, but I knew the football season was coming up and this was a good way to get ready.
"We knew very little about tailgating and we are big Grizzlies fans so it worked out perfect. GCS Ballpark was our training ground."
Hayes and Grizzlies General Manager Steve Gomric are longtime friends and Hayes called Gomric in August to see if him and his son could come out and tailgate.
"Pat wasn't sure if anyone tailgated before our games," Gomric said. "I told him it happens often and we encourage it. I thought the idea of attending every single Mizzou game with his son was outstanding. I'm glad the Grizzlies could help them get ready for the season."
Pat and his 10-year-old son Michael went to some games last year, including a road game at Tennessee, but didn't have season tickets and didn't tailgate either.
"We had to go out and get all the materials before this season started because we didn't have anything," Pat said. "We bought a tent, mini generator for TV/video games, a grill, tables, etc."
The Hayes clan had four season tickets for home games this season, but it didn't stop there. They often times had to purchase additional tickets for games to bring family and friends, sometimes buying as many as seven more.
Pat and Michael have not missed a game all season and don't intend to either. The father and son combo will attend Saturday's SEC Championship game in Atlanta and follow the team to their bowl destination as well, hoping it will point them to the BCS Championship game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
"I realized when the schedule was released that all the road games were drivable," the elder Hayes stated. "We came into this season not knowing much about tailgating, but now I think we are getting pretty good at it. The team has been pretty good to."
Who knows, maybe professional baseball will turn into a tailgating ground for college football fans everywhere.
Gateway Grizzlies 2014 season and group tickets are on sale now. For more information call 618-337-3000.