To fans of Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt, losing the old cowbell was often worse than losing itself.
Ed Cavaleri discovered that after the 1935 game in Atlanta, won by the Commodores. While taking the cowbell to have the score engraved after the game, he was confronted by two Georgia Tech students.
"One pushed me down, the other grabbed the bell," Cavaleri said in news reports before his death in 1969.
The cowbell - awarded to the Georgia Tech-Vanderbilt winner since 1924 - was eventually recovered, and its legacy endures. On Saturday night, the Yellow Jackets and Commodores will play for the 36th time. Soon thereafter, Cavaleri's son will engrave another score into the silver-coated cowbell and will eventually present it to the winning team.
Ed Cavaleri Jr., 76, lives in Augusta with his wife.
"It had to mean a great deal for him to travel every year for the game and go to the efforts he did to present it," Cavaleri Jr. said of his father. "Before the games, he would bring his trophy home. That was a great big deal for him to have possession of it for a week or so."
Cavaleri Jr. said his father was on his way to the game in 1924 when he stopped by a hardware store and bought the cowbell. After the game, someone suggested that the winner should be awarded the bell.
Cavaleri Sr., who worked as a railroad official for a quarter-century, attended every Georgia Tech-Vanderbilt game from 1924 until 1967. In news reports, he said he thought he would never see the bell again after the 1935 game.
"I'd just left the stadium, was taking the bell along to have it engraved," he said then. "On a side street, near the stadium, two fellows jumped me."
The bell, originally made of copper and painted with the teams' colors, was returned before the 1937 game after Cavaleri posted a notice at the Georgia Tech YMCA. A student came forward and said the bell was at the home of a friend in Sylva, N.C.
The bell arrived at Grant Field just before the game.
"It was a different era as far as one team's fans doing things to fans of the other team," Cavaleri Jr. said.
After Georgia Tech's win in 1967, the bell remained in Atlanta. The two teams renewed their old rivalry last year, a 45-3 Yellow Jackets victory, and Cavaleri Jr. recovered the relic and renewed an old tradition as well.
Georgia Tech plays Vanderbilt for the 36th time at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. A look at the series:
ALL-TIME RECORD: Georgia Tech leads the series 17-15-3
FIRST MEETING: 1892 (Vanderbilt won 20-10)
LAST MEETING:2002 (Georgia Tech won 45-3)
LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY: Georgia Tech won 83-0 (1917)
IN ATLANTA: Georgia Tech leads 12-10
IN NASHVILLE: 5-5-3
PAST 10 MEETINGS: Georgia Tech leads 9-0-1
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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