Whis­tle while you watch? Vandy fan plans to keep noise down

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - AP Sports Writer

By Eric Ol­son OMAHA, NEB. (AP) >> Fans at the Col­lege World Se­ries and across the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence may have never seen Preacher Franklin.

They’ve him.

Franklin is one of the two fa­mous, or in­fa­mous, “Van­der­bilt Whistlers,” and his dis­tinc­tive chirps can be heard through­out sta­di­ums the Com­modores play in and in the back­ground of tele­vi­sion broad­casts.

Vandy fans love it, or at least tol­er­ate it. Fans of the op­pos­ing team or neu­tral ob­servers find it an­noy­ing. Re­ally an­noy­ing.

The 72-year-old Franklin’s whis­tle typ­i­cally goes non­stop be­tween pitches.

“I can whis­tle all night, no prob­lem,” he said.

He has had to pick his spots the last cou­ple games of this year’s CWS, though. TD Amer­i­trade Park of­fi­cials told him to knock it off af­ter re­ceiv­ing com­plaints.

“It’s been dozens - over so­cial me­dia, via email, tele­phone calls and in-per­son com­plaints,” said Kristyna Eng­dahl, spokes­woman for the agency that op­er­ates the ball­park.

Sta­dium rules pro­hibit “dis­rup­tive noise mak­ing of any kind,” and vi­o­la­tors can be re­moved. Ball­park of­fi­cials aren’t whistling Dixie, and Franklin knows it. He and two friends drove 750 miles from Smyrna, Ten­nessee, to be here, and Franklin doesn’t want to get kicked out.

Franklin said he came surely heard to a com­pro­mise with the crowd man­ager over­see­ing his sec­tion.

“When Van­der­bilt does some­thing good, I’m go­ing to whis­tle,” he said. “The guy told me I can whis­tle when they score or make a great play. We semi-sort of agreed on that. I call it a truce.”

The other whistler, Jeff Pack, hopes to come to Omaha this week­end, and Franklin will make sure to fill him in on the new ground rules.

Franklin said he was 6 or 7 when his older brother taught him how to whis­tle in his spe­cial way. As a kid, he said, he once whis­tled dur­ing a high school bas­ket­ball game, caus­ing the ac­tion to stop. That only en­cour­aged him to keep whistling away.

He said he de­vel­oped his pas­sion for Van­der­bilt sports in 1959, when a friend asked if he wanted to go to a Com­modores bas­ket­ball game. Vandy en­deared it­self even more to Franklin when the school do­nated used bas­ket­ball warmups to his high school.

Franklin is semi-re­tired from his sid­ing busi­ness, and he and his wife, Jacki, travel through­out SEC coun­try in their re­cre­ation ve­hi­cle at­tend­ing base­ball games and, for foot­ball and bas­ket­ball, games that are at home or close-by. Jacki stayed home this week to help take care of a new­born grand­child.

Jacki said by tele­phone from Smyrna that she isn’t en­tirely com­fort­able with all the at­ten­tion her hus­band has re­ceived in Omaha.

“Even though the fans love it, I hope it doesn’t make a bad im­pres­sion on Van­der­bilt,” she said.

Hard as it will be, Franklin said he planned to his whistling un­der con­trol as long as the Com­modores are at the CWS.

“I’m go­ing to try to stay within the lim­its or I’m go­ing to push it as far as I can with­out get­ting thrown out,” he said. “The play­ers love it. The coaches, I don’t know if they love it, but I don’t think they mind it.”

BUTCH DILL - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

FILE - In this May 25, 2019, file photo, Jeff Pack, one of two “Van­der­bilt Whistlers,” whis­tles in the third in­ning of an NCAA col­lege base­ball game be­tween Van­der­bilt and LSU at the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence tour­na­ment in Hoover, Ala.

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