Vols celebrate homer with high fashion

February 19th, 2023

We've seen some weird home run celebrations before. Whether it's carrying the player who just launched one over the fence in a laundry cart down the length of the dugout or having him don the ceremonial home run jacket emblazoned with the team's logo and the names of the countries represented on the roster, the homer hijinks have been creative and diverse.

But this one takes it to another level.

After belting a go-ahead two-run shot in the fourth inning to give his Tennessee Volunteers the lead over Grand Canyon University on Saturday night at the MLB Desert Invitational, designated hitter Cal Stark got the honorary fur coat treatment after crossing home plate.

Move over, Joe Namath, you've got company at the intersection of sports and high fashion.

The tradition was inaugurated by former Volunteers catcher Evan Russell last year and carried over into this season by first baseman Blake Burke. Stark's long homer over the left-field wall in Phoenix on Saturday marked the first home run of the season for Tennessee in the team's second game, and now that they're on the board, the Vols will look to break out the fur coat often over the weeks and months to come.

Who knows? If Namath, who was being scouted by several Major League teams and even offered a contract to play professional baseball, had stuck with it, he could have been the one initiating the fur coat celebration some 50 years ago. But he instead went on to a Hall of Fame football career, paving the way for the celebration to be founded by the University of Tennessee's baseball team half a century later.

Compared with deciding how to wear the coat -- with both arms in or just slung over one shoulder, for example -- hitting the home run is probably the easy part. Stark chose the latter in this case. Either way, style and substance have truly met in the newest home run celebration.