Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where's Waldo? On the outside looking in

He was nicknamed "Waldo" by Bert Blyleven's wife because he was always in the crowd. For years, he was one of the most dedicated and visible Twins fans. From his perch in centerfield, Waldo would snare home runs and welcome Torii Hunter back to his position at the top of each inning. And the players seemed to like him; Joe Mauer gave him a personalized autographed bat after the 2006 season, Johan Santana presented his last pair of cleats he ever wore as a Twin. He was even featured in a Twins commercial as the fan in the first television ad for the Every Fan Counts campaign. Near the end of Torii Hunter's tenure, he said of Waldo, "I know he's my biggest fan," Hunter said. "I think he's one of the guys I'm going to miss most because he comes to every game."

Indeed, he had been to every game in the Metrodome since early 2004.

So why hasn't Waldo seen a Twins game at Target Field?

The trouble started last September when his Bloomington house was burglarized. Among the stolen items were his tickets to the remaining six games and his trademark white Twins batting helmet. He called his season ticket rep to explain what happened, but they couldn't comp him tickets or even allow him to sit in his regular seat. He bought tickets to the final games, but security guards followed him around the stadium after they kicked him out of his seat. He was expecting some compassion from the Twins organization after he supported them for years.

This wasn't the only time the Twins brass looked down on Waldo. He says that whenever an incident occurred in centerfield, a fight, a drunk, a beach ball, security would approach him. He says that security didn't like how many autographs he would get after the games, even though others around him would get ten at a time, clearly to re-sell. He said some fans don't like him because he pops beach balls and won't give balls to kids, even though he'd hand any youngster in the area a baseball.
So after he gave so much of his money and got so little respect in return, Waldo has decided to take a break from the Twins. He attended the Gophers game at Target Field, but hasn't been inside to see the home team play. Of course, he can't just stay at home. Instead, he bikes up from Bloomington every day to his new perch: just beyond the fence of Gate 34. He talks with fellow fans about baseball, respectfully declines ticket offers, and plots his return to the spotlight:

He's going to catch the first home run ball that makes it to the plaza.

1 comment:

Daymonster said...

a true american hero.