Freddy Schuman died of a heart attack at age 85 on Sunday. He received small write-ups in local New York papers. Chris Berman did not bloviate about his life or death on ESPN. Twenty people attended his funeral.
Freddy Sez, as he was affectionately known to Yankees fans, attended every Yankees home game for at least the last 15 years, despite never having a seat. He would wander through the crowd, taking the same route each game, first at the old Yankee Stadium then the new corporatized version. He’d start in the upper deck and make his way down to the good seats. He carried a new homemade sign each game with words of encouragement for the home nine, and his lucky pan and spoon.
He would pass the spoon to any fan who wanted to partake in his ritual, and let them bang away on the clover-adorned pan. You could always track Freddy through the stadium by the sound of the banging, which was even audible on TV and radio broadcasts.
I have several favorites from today’s Yankees. Derek Jeter is one of my first picks. The girls are crazy for him. I’m not a girl, but God, he’s good! — Freddy Sez
Freddy handed out self-published newsletters (“published infrequently”), and happily chatted and took pictures with any fans who so desired. He had lost an eye in a childhood stickball accident, and wore all of his 85 years and then some on his grizzled face. He was a genuinely sweet man, and the experience of going to Yankees games won’t be the same now that he’s gone.
He was the best kind of “superfan,” one who earned that title organically over a long period of time. The kind who wasn’t a flagrant self-promoter. The kind who cared more about his team than his image.
Unlike, say, this guy:
I am both a Yankees fan and a Jets fan. I adored Freddy. I shook his hand several times, and banged on his pan (not a euphemism). I looked forward to seeing him at games, and went out of my way to find him. I fucking hate Fireman Ed.
Fireman Ed is the epitome of everything that’s wrong with sports fandom today. He’s loud and annoying at games. He cares only about getting his face on television. He’s a media-created monster. He gets game balls. He gets into publicity battles with Chad Ochocinco. And he’s an embarrassment to his franchise.
This quote from Ed’s Wikipedia page probably tells you all you need to know about him:
On August 16, 2010, during a Monday Night Football Giants vs Jets pre-season game, Fireman Ed’s inaugural Jets chant in the New Meadowlands Stadium was interrupted by a Giants fan who raised his Giants hat while Fireman Ed’s fellow Jets fans stood by. Fireman Ed repeatedly shoved the fan before the fan was escorted away from Ed’s chanting post. The Giants fan was later removed from the game. Fireman Ed was later charged with simple assault for the incident.
Fireman Ed is a celebrity. Freddy Sez was a fan.
Some of my favorite of Freddy’s signs over the years:
Yanks Lost 3
Not to Worry
Love Ice Cream
I Don’t Know
How to Help
Albert is Not
A Bell. He is
A Ding Dong!
It’s Fleet Week!