500 Level Fan(s) of the Game – May 31st, 2010

An incredible sight at the Roger’s Centre last night.  It had nothing to do with Toronto’s 3-2 win over the first place Rays.  It had nothing to do with the disappointing drop in attendance, down to 11.335 despite two 30-win teams going at it. 

It had everything to do with the return of two 500 level legends:

On the left is WWE legend and Hall-of-Famer Bobby Backlund.  On the right is none other than children’s animated TV star Pingu the Penguin.  To fully understand what this means, please join me on a flashback, a trip down memory road.

2002 – My best friend and I begin regularly attending Jays games in the 500 level.  As fresh graduates of York University and still unemployed, the summer of ’02 becomes a summer of freedom.  Sitting in the upper deck and enjoying Hinske, Wells, and Halladay, we notice two striking men a few rows ahead of us in section 524A.  The man on the aisle bears a striking resemblance to Bobby Backlund.  The man in seat 2 looks an awful lot like a penguin.  We continued to see them throughout the summer, each time noticing how the penguin-man, now referred to as Pingu, was silent, and Bobby was chirpy.  He also had tape holding his glasses together.

2004 – After a summer spent out of Toronto, we both return to the city.  Upon re-acclimatizing ourselves to the 500 Level, we are both shocked and excited to see that Pingu and Bobby are still there, still sitting in section 524A.

2005 – Bobby and Pingu remain fixtures in the upper deck, though their behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic.  Bobby continually tries to take photos of children with their parents, and tries game-in and game-out to bet other fans bottles of diet cokes that an opposing player will hit a home run.  Pingu is still quiet.

2006 – Bobby and Pingu vanish.

Fast forward to last night.  We are both back to see the battle of the Jays and Rays, keeping one eye on the game and one eye on the fans.  Section 525 proved fruitless.  Just a bunch of young girls with their boyfriends, and a few rows of older fans.  Nothing crazy.  Section 522 also proves uneventful.  Though the Jays, and Morrow especially, are dominating on the field, the upper deck is strangely quiet.

At this point I turn to my friend: “I wish Bobby and Pingu were still around.  I wonder what happened to them?”

His reply?  “They’re probably dead.”

However, upon moving into section 519, the unthinkable:

Bobby (left) and Pingu (right) - Upper Deck Legends


Yes!  The legends have returned! 

While the rest of the ball game was exciting on the field, it did little to match the excitement felt in the 500 Level.  The behaviour of the pair was even more erratic than in years past.  Bobby still had the taped glasses, and still had the faded white t-shirt, but he had found new ways to annoy those around him.  In the 4th inning he started rubbing the head of the fan in front of him.  For every at-bat by Overbay he would yell “You are a moron!”, and then yelled “Overpaid!”  Unfortunately for us around him, he continued to yell “Overpaid” for 25 minutes after Lyle’s at-bat.

In the 5th inning Pingu fell asleep.  Despite Bobby’s best efforts to wake him (a constant barrage of nonsensical chatter, and the occasional slap to the head), he remained out for several batters.  He was quieter than ever until the 8th, when he unleashed a profanity filled tirade at Lyle Overbay.

It was incredible.  We were a few years older, but despite Pingu’s increased girth and rounder belly, they looked the same.  It was like we entered a time warp and it was 2002 all over again.

The Jays won to inch closer to the division lead, but this game will always be remembered for a return to my younger days.  Congratulations Bobby and Pingu, 500 Level Fans of the Game! same sites expired domains expiration of domains apache web server . website offline link checker .

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