The first time I encountered the immortal Freddy Sez at Yankee Stadium, I logically assumed he was a homeless vagrant, there to harass me and possibly rob me. I mean, check out his face:
But instead, he had me bang on his pot with a spoon, and handed me a self-published newsletter. The Stadium has never quite been the same since.
More than the self-manufactured hype of the guy in the fireman hat at Jets games, more than that freak who sits in the bleachers at Wrigley Field and shrieks like Ric Flair, Freddy is a quintessential aspect of the ballpark experience — a fan whose identity is inseparable from the team he roots for.
Freddy goes to every Yankees home game, and walks the same route through the Stadium, imploring fans to bang on his shamrock-adorned pot. He handcrafts a different two-sided poster for each game, bearing inspirational messages like "Bye, Bye Slumps/Time for Yanks/To Say No! No! No!" and "Cut the Balony/Start Playing/Baseball Yanks."
He's a lovable, if a bit odd-smelling, one-eyed old scamp always happy to stop and chat for a few moments. You can monitor his progress through the crowd by listening for the unmistakable sound of metal-on-metal.
I've always wondered if Freddy is allowed into the Stadium for free. Now I know. I also wonder what will happen when the new ballpark opens in 2009. I imagine Freddy acting like an old dog asked to move houses late in life, wandering in circles and walking into doors and walls, trying to walk his routine paths in a new environment.
Freddy will never die. Or at least, he better not. I dread his passing almost as much as I dread Phil Rizutto's. Amazingly, Freddy Schuman lives in sin on the Upper West Side with an accountant. Go get 'em, tiger.