With the return of the MLB season comes the return of one our most popular features on the site – the 500 Level Fan of the Game. For those new readers, the fan of the game is basically a fan who does something, anything, to stick out.
It can be a drunken buffoon who makes a fool of him/herself.
It can be a super fan who is decked out in Jays gear from head to toe.
It can be anybody.
This past weekend, the choices were easy.
On Saturday, we arrived at the game just before the anthem. Already the upper deck was decently full. The four of us settled into our seats in section 529, tightly packed in row 11. We were forced to sit in our actual seats, a rarity in the 500’s. All that remained in our row was one single, solitary seat. The group of guys beside us, and our group, were so sure nobody would sit there that we all filled it with our jackets.
Then, lo and behold, he arrived. It was the third inning when he shuffled into the row, took a look at the coats on
the seat and asked if we could take a look at his ticket to make sure he was in the right place. Dr. Nudathan, from my group, replied, “Oh, you’re a single. That makes sense then.” The coats were moved, and the man settled in for the game.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 500 Level fan of the Game for Saturday April 2 – the Happiest Man in the World.
If you thought you were happy about baseball being back, I can guarantee you were not as happy as him. He talked to us about players. He loved Drabek. He sang along to every song that was played, from disco, to rock, to hip hop. He used the railing in front of the seats as a drum kit. He stood and danced between innings. He was more excited about “OK Blue Jays” in the seventh inning stretch than I have ever seen from anybody.
His joyous demeanor was contagious. Although we were all happy already, he made us happier. Smiles all around.
On Sunday, we made our way back to the ballpark. The crowds around the dome were insane – the amount of people brought back memories of the early ’90’s. The line to buy tickets from the Gate 9 Box Office stretched all the way down the block, about half way to Spadina. Police closed down the westbound side of Bremner. Crazy.
Once inside, we settled into our seats, this time section 534 row 5. And there, in section 534 row 4, was an incredible man. I’ve seen fans before, but this was a true fan.
He was an older man, I would probably guess mid’70’s. He was wearing a personalized jersey: “Bingham” number 92. But the true topper was this: he kept score. And not just using the scorecard in the program. No, he had created his own template, had a stack printed, and attached them to a clipboard. Each card said “Toronto Blue Jays, 2011 Baseball Season” at the top, with a line for the date in the top corner. It was incredible.
Bingham also wore an AM tuner in his ear for a large part of the game, listening to Jerry Howarth, and ensuring he didn’t miss a single play.
On top of that, he was into the game. Passionate, very passionate. The number of “hey, hey, hey” chants that came out of his mouth were too numerous to count. He loved Cecil, especially the fact that he struck out the side in the first inning.
Bingham was also an incredibly nice man, turning back to speak to us an a few separate occassions. “Not enough leg room for my tender knees up here. That’s what you get for being old and not down in the lower decks!”
Maybe I was sold because of the jersey. Maybe it was the scorecard. Or maybe it was because he reminded me of my late grandfather, right down to the facial expressions.
Whatever it was, it was a true pleasure to sit behind Bingham. I hope to see him again this year.