CHICAGO–For the 213th game in a row, witnesses in Wrigley Field’s upper deck section 433 reported seeing the same unidentified fan wearing a Cubs team jacket and listening to the game on a transistor radio Tuesday.
The man, who has sat alone at every Cubs home game for the past three seasons, is immediately recognizable by his thick, large-framed glasses and unshaven face.
“Oh yeah, the radio guy,” said Cubs fan Alex O’Connor, who sits three rows behind the mysterious stadium regular. “He wears that same getup every time I see him. Same hat, same satin jacket. I didn’t even know they made those anymore, but his looks pristine.”
“Except the one time I remember he spilled some mustard on it and started kind of muttering to himself for about 10 minutes straight,” O’Connor added. “It was pretty awkward.”
According to witnesses, the fan always wears his jacket buttoned all the way up, no matter the temperature.
Other sources say the fan engages in a variety of seemingly ritual behaviors over the course of a game, including ordering one hot dog, one large Pepsi, one tray of nachos, one box of Cracker Jacks and one bag of peanuts. The fan then carefully arranges the food items around him and consumes each item one by one.
“Even when I get here early to watch batting practice, the guy is already in his seat staring at the field and listening to that radio,” season-ticket holder John Lowell told reporters, adding that the fan looks like he could be anywhere from 30 to 55 years old. “We joke around that he never leaves, but if the game goes into extra innings he charges out of the stadium as fast as he can, like he has somewhere to be.”
“I’m not quite sure how he gets here,” Lowell said. “I don’t think he drives. I just can’t picture him driving.”
Though many agree that the fan is virtually harmless, ticket holders in the section say he can become unruly at times, often erupting in shouting fits depending on the game situation.
“If the Cubs have a man on third and don’t score, he starts screaming ‘You suck, you suck!’ over and over,” said Wrigley Field security guard Eric Brodeur. “Sometimes he’ll just start acting up for no reason, like when he’ll yell ‘Take him out!’ about our starting pitcher in the third inning. But then he usually stops abruptly and just sits back down, totally silent, for the rest of the game.”
“He also seems to really hate Derrek Lee,” Brodeur added, “which I don’t get, because he’s our best player.”
The empty seat next to the fan has reportedly been a source of speculation. Many note that, prior to the only game he missed in early 2007, the fan would attend all contests with a companion, who was described as a larger gentleman who would watch the game silently with a blanket on his lap.
“He was an older man, very nice,” stadium usher Roy Caldwell said. “Radio guy would just keep talking and shouting at the field and the big guy would just stare straight ahead. Then one day they both missed a game, and only the radio guy came back.”
According to fans who sit closest to the unidentified fan, the volume of his portable Panasonic radio has at times caused tension, but never any sort of confrontation.
“The radio looks like it has to be at least 25 years old, and sometimes he has the volume up so high that the entire section can hear it,” Chicago resident and Wrigley Field regular Grant Haley said. “He also has a program and a score sheet that he’s constantly writing on. And a notebook he sometimes refers to. And one or two newspapers he keeps folded up next to him.”
Despite these issues, no one in section 433 was willing to refute the notion that the man is a devoted Cubs fan, citing the myriad team pins surrounding the Cubs “C” logo on the front of his hat, and the Kosuke Fukudome bobblehead he places in the empty seat to his left.
“He doesn’t go to games to socialize or be seen,” Chicago native Kyle Attell told reporters. “And I respect that. He goes because he is a true Cubs fan who lives and dies with the team.”
“That, or he’s just a lonely weirdo,” he concluded.