Updyke’s Life Turned Upside Down
Harvey Updyke is a 62 year old Grandfather with a sickly passion for Alabama football. After calling a radio show to take credit for poisoning the oak trees at Toomer’s Corner (sacred gathering spot for Auburn football fans), Updyke’s life has been turned upside down. He faces four felony charges and two misdemeanor charges in connection with the tree poisoning. Here is more from Wright Thompson of espn.com.
He convinced his first wife to let him name their first child Bear Bryant Updyke. When it was a girl, they named her Crimson Tyde. Their next child was a boy and, sure enough, his name was Bear. Al’s two dogs are named Bama and Nicky. He has 46 Alabama hats. Last year, he found Alabama national championship T-shirts on sale for $3.41. He bought all 18 in stock. When he was 19, he ran onto the field at the Bluebonnet Bowl, carrying a roll of toilet paper and a box of Tide. More recently, he tried to convince his current wife to name a daughter Ally Bama. He begged. Her response was “Are you crazy?” She also refused to promise that she’d honor his request to bury him in crimson. Even before the Toomer’s allegations, she thought he took this Alabama thing too far. She told him he better get a tattoo if he wanted to be buried with anything related to a football team.
I recommend reading all of Thompson’s article. Wright is a terrific journalist. He always seems to describe the obsession involving sports fans, while also humanizing the subject matter. In this case, it’s Harvey Updyke Jr., also referred to as Al from Dadeville. That’s his radio moniker.
Updyke’s call to the Paul Finebaum show on January 27th set off a firestorm. In only 62 words, Updyke brashly described how he poisoned the famous oaks at Toomer’s corner. And in those 62 words, changed his life for the worst.
When does fandom go too far? In the case of Updyke, it appears to have happened long before his admitted poisoning of Toomer’s Corner.