It’s become a tradition with Louis Richey that after every big Alabama win, he buys one of the first T-shirts to go on sale.
Monday night was no exception.
“After the Auburn game, SEC Championship and especially the National Championship, we’ve got to get those shirts,” said Richey, of Florence.
His 15-year-old son said something to him Monday night about getting a shirt after Alabama won the BCS National Championship, so as soon as the game was over, he and some friends headed to Big Al’s Merchandise on Huntsville Road.
“(My son) wanted to be the first at school with (a shirt) and he wore it today,” Richey said.
Richey said he was amazed at how many people were there when they pulled up to the business.
“The parking lot was full, and people were even parking across the street,” he said. “One man even drove from Moulton to get a shirt.”
Dewayne Davis, owner of Big Al’s, wasn’t just selling the National Championship shirts, he was selling “score shirts.”
Davis said he and friends and employees were watching the game and as soon as it was over they started screen printing T-shirts with the final score.
“We opened the store 5-10 minutes after the game was over, and we probably had 20 people there then. We had the first shirts done within 18 minutes,” Davis said.
Moments after the Alabama football team defeated Notre Dame 42-14, Alabama fans crowded into businesses across the Shoals to buy shirts and caps.
“It was like the day after Thanksgiving,” said Mike Baggett, manager of Martin’s in Florence. “I got to the store in the middle of the third quarter and people were already lined up waiting for us to open the doors.
“As soon as the game was over, we opened the doors and sold out of stock within 90 minutes,” he said.
William Nale and his wife, Debbie, stood in line for nearly two hours at Hibbett’s Sporting Goods in Russellville to get a championship shirt.
“(Hibbett’s) was the only game in town for anyone who wanted a shirt last night,” Nale said. “Honestly, I didn’t think I would ever see people stand in line for a T-shirt. I’m glad we went and glad we had a reason to go.”
Denise Woods, principal of McBride Elementary in Muscle Shoals, wore her official locker room Nike T-shirt to school Tuesday, as did several teachers and “a lot of our students.”
She said the men in her house are Auburn fans, “but my daughter, Emily, and I are Bama fans,” she said. “Last year Emily, (a 10th-grader at Muscle Shoals High School), wanted to go out and get a shirt after the game so we did.
“(Monday night), about halftime she said we have to go get a shirt, it’s a tradition. Being superstitious I wasn’t about to leave at halftime, but in the fourth quarter I called my sister and said, ‘OK, we’re making a Dick’s run,’ so she went with us.”
Woods said they got there about 11 p.m. A crowd was there even before the game was over.
“I’m decked out (Tuesday). This is my excuse to not have to be in professional attire. I hope I get to do it next year, too,” Woods said.
Janice Deaton, manager of Campus Spirits in Regency Square Mall, was open until 1 a.m. Tuesday.
“We have six caps and six shirts left right now,” Deaton said Tuesday morning. “We’ve gotten more in and there were people waiting on us to open. It’s been a good day.”
She said after last year’s championship win over LSU, it was like a celebration.
“(Monday night), it was so exciting, it was like a pep rally,” she said.
Baggett said Martin’s could have stayed open longer Monday night if it had the merchandise.
“We closed about 12:45 a.m., but up until we locked the doors, we had people coming in looking to see what we had, and once they realized we were out, they went somewhere else,” Baggett said Tuesday while having to stop every few minutes to tell would-be shoppers the store didn’t open until 10 a.m. “This is two years in a row it has been like this.”
And for Richey, he’s ready to make that late-night run next season.
“You want to support your team, and there’s just something special about getting one of the first shirts and caps,” he said.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.
Staff Writer Lisa Singleton-Rickman contributed to this report.