The University of South Carolina lost a legend, an icon and a friend on Sept. 3, 2002 when Weldon B. "Sarge" Frye died at the age of 90, ending more than half a century of service to the Gamecock athletics program.
Sarge officially retired July 1, 1997, after 45 years of service. That was 20 years after he retired from full-time employment but remained on board to supervise maintenance of athletic facilities.
For the next six plus years, until a few days prior to his death, Sarge was on hand almost daily as a consultant and advisor regarding the maintenance of playing fields and other athletic facilities.
Thos facilities included Sarge Frye Field, the baseball stadium that University trustees named for Sarge on May 11, 1980.
A native of Medon, Tenn., Frye was a master sergeant when he retired from the U. S. Army in 1953 after more than 23 years of service. A combat veteran of World War II and the Korean Conflict, Frye participated in the allied invasion of Europe, was wounded in action and decorated with the bronze star. He received a second bronze star in Korea.
Frye came to work for the University of South Carolina in 1953 and was placed in charge of athletic facilities. His duties were soon expanded to include supervision of grounds for the entire campus. He retired from full-time employment in 1977 but continued to supervise maintenance of athletic facilities through the 1996-97 academic year.
In addition to grounds keeping and landscaping duties, Sarge for many years operated the game clock for men's and women's basketball games at Carolina Coliseum.
His wife, the former Ruby Howard of Anniston, Ala., passed away during the spring of 1997. Their son, Jerry, was a standout end on the South Carolina football squad, 1958-60, and was co-captain his senior year. Jerry's son Jay - Sarge's grandson - was a Gamecock football letterman, 1983-84. Frye was honored in January 1993 when the American Baseball Coaches Association named him National Groundskeeper of the Year.
Sarge Frye Field is part of a 30-acre complex of athletic fields and buildings at the Rex Enright Athletic Center, named for the late University of South Carolina director of athletics and head football coach. Other facilities include the "Roundhouse" office building and the George Terry Olympic Sports building which houses dressing and sports medicine facilities.
A new baseball player's lounge and locker room was added to this facility in 1997. The first stage of extensive renovations scheduled for Sarge Frye Field included the locker room, lounge, which features a 60" big screen televison, and enlargement of the home dugout.
A two-tier press box was completed in 1987. A 10-foot foot fence surrounds the outfield and there is a large batter's background, 20 feet high and 40 feet side behind the center field fence. A computerized scoreboard and message center was installed in 1984.
Sarge Frye Field currently seats 5,000. Dimensions are 325 down the left field line, 365 to left center, 390 to center field, 365 in right center, and 325 down the rightfield line. The stands alsp include 2000 chairback seats. The facility is well lit for night baseball.
Sarge Frye Field was the site of 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004 NCAA Regional Tournaments and 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 NCAA Super Regionals. In 1993, the Southeastern Conference Division Baseball Tournament was held at Sarge Frye Field. South Carolina ranked sixth in the nation in attendance for the 2004 season.
Prior to that, the facility hosted six NCAA regional baseball tournaments (1975-76-77-81-82-85) and the Metro Conference championship tournaments in 1987 and 1989. The South Carolina High School League often uses the facility for state championships and all-star games.
Directions to Sarge Frye Field
From I-126 to Sarge Frye
1. Exit off Huger Street
2. Follow Huger Street south to Blossom Street
3. Take a left onto Blossom Street
4. Follow Blossom Street east to Assembly Street
5. Take a right on Assembly Street
6. Follow Assembly Street south (towards Williams-Brice Stadium) to Whaley Street
7. Take a left on Whaley Street
8. Follow Whaley Street (3 blocks) east to Marion Street
9. Take a right on Marion Street, Sarge Frye Field will be directly ahead
From I-20 to Sarge Frye
1. Take the Bull Street Exit
2. Follow Bull Street southeast to Gervais Street
3. Take a right on Gervais Street
4. Follow Gervais Street southwest to Assembly Street
5. Take a left on to Assembly Street south (towards Williams-Brice Stadium) to Whaley Street
6. Take a left on Whaley Street
7. Follow Whaley Street (3 blocks) east to Marion Street
8. Take a right on Marion Street, Sarge Frye Field will be directly ahead
From I-77 to Sarge Frye Field
1. Take Bluff Road exit (exit 5)
2. Take Bluff Road all the way into Columbia
3. Turn right onto George Rogers Blvd.
4. At the first stop light, turn right onto Rosewood Dr.
5. At the first stop light on Rosewood Drive turn left onto Marion St.
6. You will go through a stop sign and you will see the baseball stadium beside the softball field on your left.