A few weeks ago, I put together a post that looked at the different types of annoying fans you encounter at the ballpark. With this post, I decided to discuss my personal favorite fan stories. These are way outside of the box, for the most part; in fact, that’s what makes them so unique. I see games at a lot of different ballparks, so several are outside of Cleveland – all involve major league parks though.
1. The woman that fondled Slider. I was sitting in the mezzanine a few years back, when Slider stopped by to visit. He did his usual shtick…threw a few shirts, shook his belly, got pictures with fans. It was when he came over into my general vicinity that the woman behind me decided to get a little bit frisky with him. I know there are a whole circuit (is that a good term for it?) of people that are into that kind of thing…to each their own, I suppose. I’m just saying that maybe there’s a time and place for that sort of thing if you’re in the comfort of your own home, but accosting a major league mascot may not be the best strategy. So this woman touched him a bit inappropriately at first, and Slider played along some. He must have decided that it was time to depart the area (maybe he felt a little uncomfortable?) As he’s walking away, she manages to snag his tail and is just really touching his large, round behind in an inappropriate manner. Slider finally managed to escape her grasp, but there was fear in those google eyes that day.
2. The women that bought underage kids beer. This was also at an Indians game a few years ago. The women behind me were probably in their 40s, maybe the type of woman some might refer to as a “cougar.” The struck up a conversation with the much younger guys next to them, and offered to buy them a beer. The only problem – none of those guys were 21. These guys must have thought they hit the jackpot; they’ve just found people not only willing to buy them beers, but offering to pay for them as well! Immediately the fast talking excuses started – “Well, I’m 20…I mean, I’ll be 21 real soon.” ”Yeah, I’m 19, but I’ve had beer before!” You get the basic idea. So the women buy them beer, and at some point, the guys then start funneling them money to purchase more alcoholic beverages. They’re all talking and laughing and enjoying themselves and the game ends. It was clear that the guys, while appreciative, really just wanted to get out of there at that point. They probably had a nice buzz going, and just wanted to just go hang around Cleveland and sober up before they had to drive back to their parents’ house. The women had some other ideas though; they were hoping the guys would join them across the street at the Thirsty Parrot. They seemed very determined on this matter. I’m not fully sure what ended up happening, but it looked as if the guys were escaping alone after the game.
3. The guy that dropped his toddler on its head while trying to catch a foul ball. I was in Kansas City in 2006 and got a chance to visit Kauffman Stadium (which is beautiful, by the way, even before the renovation). I happened to be watching with the attendees from the Jerry Malloy Negro Leagues Conference, and we were having a great time laughing and watching the game together. Midway through the game, a foul ball happened to come in our general area. A guy a few rows in front of us jumped up to grab it, holding his toddler in his arms. It all happened really fast, and I guess when he realized the ball was coming right to him he dropped the kid and nabbed the ball. He scooped the (now screaming) child up from the ground and tried to placate him with the ball. The kid was just a little too stunned and probably in a little bit of pain at that point to care. As I retold this story years later to a friend, he helpfully pointed out that it was likely easier, statistically, to have another kid than it was to catch another foul ball. So there’s your justification for dropping a child to get a foul ball – you can have another kid, but you may never get another chance at that foul ball.
4. Booing Jose Mesa. I went to Veterans Stadium in 2003 to see the Philadelphia Phillies before they moved into their new park the next season. This was when Mesa was still closing for them. He’d had a bad stretch, and blew the game yet again while I was there. Everyone booed the crap out of him, and I got to join in (for different reasons). There’s really no other point to this story, except to mention that this happened and it was awesome!
5. The Russian nesting doll of white t-shirts. I made my only trip to the old Yankee Stadium in 2003, on a hot July day where the Yankees squared off against the Indians. It was the kind of day where it’s so sunny and hot, it almost becomes painful to sit there through the entire game. We were out on the bleachers (the cheapest seats we could find on Stub Hub), and at one point people actually cheered when a very small cloud obscured the sun for a few minutes.
When we first arrived at the game, we were disappointed that there were no beer sales in the bleaches. We wanted to relax with a drink, but since you went into the bleachers through a separate entrance, you couldn’t even go to a different part of the stadium to purchase alcohol. So we complained for a few minutes, but soon decided that it was for the best – most of our neighbors in the bleachers really didn’t need any alcoholic encouragement.
There was one guy a few rows in front of us, who seemed to be kind of an angry and belligerent person. In addition to that, somehow he managed to find a way to sneak a flask into the ballpark. (Since people got a pat down and lifted their hats when they came in, I’m still not sure where he hid it). So he’s mixing the alcohol in his flask with his coke throughout the day, getting really drunk, and even more belligerent, if possible. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt and jeans, a simple outfit that seemed to work for the boiling hot weather. About halfway through the game, he started to remove his t-shirt. Again, not that strange considering that it was super hot and he was probably pretty drunk by that point anyway. Once he took that t-shirt off, instead of revealing a bare chest, there was just another white t-shirt. The people sitting around us all kind of looked at each other and tried not to laugh – this guy was so loud and angry, you definitely didn’t want to make him think he was the butt of any kind of joke. An inning or so went by though, and he started to remove his t-shirt…only to reveal yet another identical white t-shirt. So it’s ridiculously hot outside, and he layers three t-shirts? Does this somehow involve the explanation for how the flask made it into the ballpark? Another inning or so went by, when (big surprise) he started to remove his t-shirt. By now, you should see this punchline coming – there was another white t-shirt underneath. The entire section is now laughing hysterically, but with our heads down so he can’t see us laughing at him. We’re now waiting with anticipation as he goes to remove his shirt yet again (this is shirt number four if you’ve lost count). Finally, he’s hit bare skin! There is literally a pile of white t-shirts sitting next to him on the bleachers. He’s just as angry as ever, screaming, yelling and pointing at nothing in particular…now with four removed shirts to show for it.
So as a wrap up, here’s what I figure happened – the guy went to the store, and bought a 4-pack of white t-shirts. He then proceeded to put on the entire package and thought to himself, “I think I’ll go see a ballgame!”
Anyone else ever happen to sit near a very “interesting” person at a ballgame?