The battle on the gridiron between Florida and Georgia draws the most attention among fans of the rivalry. However, there is a deep-rooted history on the diamond few fans consider when discussing the rivalry between the two schools.
The Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators have faced one another 310 times, with Florida holding the advantage in the series, 193-115-2.
The Gators baseball team has been one of the most successful programs in the country in recent years and has made NCAA tournament appearances every season — disregarding the 2020 year, which was canceled due to the COVID pandemic — since 2008.
On the other hand, Georgia has made just six NCAA tournament appearances since 2008 and only three in the last decade.
The Bulldogs and Gators first faced one another April 3, 1931, at Fleming Field in Gainesville. Fleming Field was the first on-campus athletic complex at Florida and served as the home field for the Gators football and baseball teams and the site for MLB exhibition matchups, which saw players like Babe Ruth, Mel Ott and Rogers Hornsby grace the field.
The Bulldogs were one of the more successful teams in the country heading into the first matchup between the schools and were crowned conference champions three times since their inaugural season in 1899.
Florida, on the other hand, was a relatively new program and was at the cusp of its 19th season. In the 18 years preceding the Gators’ first matchup with the Bulldogs, Florida hired 11 different head coaches and was 142-157-6 overall.
Led by head coach W.P. White, Georgia took game one of the rivalry matchup 3-2 and split the series at a game apiece. The Bulldogs continued to dominate the Gators and produced a 23-10 record against Florida until the 1948 season.
The Gators let go of head coach Sam McAllister after a 14-15 season in 1947 and hired Dave Fuller as the new leader of the Florida baseball team. Fuller was the head coach of UF for 28 seasons and almost instantly propelled the Gators toward success.
He set the regular-season win record for the Gators in his second season, winning 17 games, and brought Florida its first regular season conference championship title in 1952. Fuller produced three Southeastern Conference Championships, won SEC Coach of the Year three times and guided the Gators to four NCAA regional tournaments.
During his quarter-century career at Florida, Fuller went 67-31-1 against the Bulldogs. He marked the beginning of the Gators reign over the Bulldogs, which has continued under current UF head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who boasts a 28-16 record against UGA.
Despite having faced each other 310 times in history, the Bulldogs and Gators have never faced one another in a conference championship or an NCAA tournament.
The most significant matchup between the two teams occurred on May 28, 2011, in the quarter-final round of the SEC Tournament. Florida needed to win one game against Georgia to reach the championship round and lost 4-3 to the Bulldogs, which set up a win-or-go-home matchup between the two.
UGA broke onto the scoreboard first and earned a run in each of the first two innings. Florida right fielder Nolan Fontana responded an inning later and hit a two-run home run to even the score at two runs apiece.
Neither side managed to gain any momentum until the Gators opened the top of the ninth inning with a double by utility player Vickash Ramjit. Ramjit advanced to third on a bunt and was driven home by Fontana, who ran out a fielder’s choice at first.
Florida won 3-2 and defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores in the SEC Tournament championship round 5-0.
Notable players in the MLB
Florida has produced 81 MLB players across the history of its program. Under O’Sullivan, 29 players have made their MLB debuts and 99 have heard their names called on draft day.
Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is arguably the most successful former Gator in the MLB. Alonso played at Florida from 2014 to 2016 and got drafted in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft.
He hit 53 home runs his rookie season and was named Rookie of the Year in his first season with the Mets. Alonso is a two-time MLB Home Run Derby Champion and has been named an All-Star three times in his five-year career.
Johnny Burnett is a name seldom referenced when discussing former Gator MLB players, but he holds one of the most significant records in baseball history. Burnett is known for achieving nine hits in a single game on July 10, 1932, an MLB record which stands to this day.
David Ross is the current manager of the Chicago Cubs and had a 15-year career in the MLB after he wrapped up his collegiate career with Florida. He won an MLB Championship with the Boston Red Sox in 2013 and with the Cubs in 2016, which broke the longest championship drought in American professional sports history.
Georgia has produced 49 MLB players across the history of its program, and 23 Bulldogs have been drafted in the last five seasons. There are three currently signed to MLB rosters.
Former New York Yankees pitcher Spud Chandler is easily the most successful Georgia player to step foot on an MLB field. Chandler played for the Yankees from 1937 to 1947 and is a six-time World Series champion. His success is often overshadowed by Hall of Fame teammates Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig.
Alex Wood is a former Georgia pitcher who was selected in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Wood boasts a 3.74 earned run average across his career and has a 76-65 record on the mound. He currently plays for the San Francisco Giants.
Emerson Hancock pitched three seasons with the Bulldogs before being selected No. 6 overall by the Seattle Mariners in the 2020 MLB Draft. Hancock made his MLB debut Aug. 6 against the San Diego Padres and pitched five innings and surrendered just three hits and one run. He made three starts before being put on the 60-day injured list, which ended his season.
Luke Adragna is a third-year journalism student and the Florida Gators football reporter at The Alligator. He is a cat ethusiast and completes the NYT Daily Mini in less than a minute each day.