Dear Lord of Baseball,
Please don’t let any goats lose their lives in Chicago today.
When it comes to extreme baseball fans, special homage must be paid to Cubbies faithful who have gone to bloody measures for the sake of the team, at stake again Wednesday as Chicago plays the Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game.
Fans believe their beloved Cubs are cursed because a fan and his stinky goat were not allowed into Wrigley Field way back in 1945, the last time the team played in a World Series.
After the Cubs lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2007 playoffs, someone killed, skinned and hanged a goat on the Harry Caray statue at Wrigley to break the “Billy Goat Curse.”
It happened in 2009, too, when police found a goat hanging from a rope on the statue’s arm.
Last month, a group of fans talked Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi into eating a 40-pound cooked goat with them to reverse the curse in time for this year’s postseason.
As the 2015 postseason opens, consider some of baseball’s fans, famous and otherwise, who have loved this game with great abandon.
She would have killed for baseball
Ruth Ann Steinhagen gave groupies a bad name.
In 1949, when she was just 19, the infamous stalker shot and nearly killed Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus, whom she began obsessing over when he played for the Cubs.
She was literally crazy about him, turning her bedroom into a shrine to him, even setting a place at the dinner table for him every night.
In 1984 Hollywood made a movie about the infamous “Baseball Annie.” Maybe you saw it? “The Natural” with Robert Redford.
Steinhagen died two years ago at age 83. As Jake Tapper noted upon her death, she never did see her beloved Cubs win a World Series.
Don’t tase me, bro
On May 4, 2010, 17-year-old Phillies fan Steve Consalvi did a very stupid thing by hopping a fence and running out on the field during a game against St. Louis.
As security chased him around the outfield — while the high school senior whipped a towel in the air over his head — the crowd cheered.
But the laughs turned to boos when a city police officer shot Steve with a Taser and dropped him like a sack of potatoes onto the turf.
His mom apologized for him. “It was stupid. It was just absolutely stupid,” she told reporters.
If you build it ...
Red Sox fan Kevin Laski spent two months in 2010 turning his backyard in Vermont into his own field of dreams, a small-scale replica of Fenway Park.
It has a 12-foot Green Monster, a Carlton Fisk pole in left field, a Pesky pole in right field and murals of famous people who shaped Red Sox history painted along the baselines.
The “park” quickly became a favorite hangout for his childhood buddies, who had fun re-enacting moments in baseball history on the field.
Said one friend, a Yankees fan: “I get to relive the 2004 World Series and it ends the way it should have.”
Nothing unusual about baseball fans naming a child after their favorite players. But three kids?
Chad and Stephanie Hoppe, Detroit fans living in Monroe, Mich., named each of their three daughters after famous former Tigers players.
Oldest daughter Kaline is named after former Tigers outfielder Al Kaline. Whitaker gets her name from former second baseman Lou Whitaker. And baby Rozema Jane, born in March, bears former pitcher Dave Rozema’s name.
“I would’ve loved to have a boy, but I’m very happy with my girls,” Chad told the Monroe News. “I really didn’t do this for publicity or trying to get attention. I just liked the Tigers.”
Beat Generation pioneer and “On the Road” author Jack Kerouac had a secret obsession, and its name was baseball.
When he was a young boy he invented his own fantasy baseball leagues and populated them with players with names like Zagg Parker, Wino Love and Warby Pepper.
He created everything in his fantastical world. He named the teams after cars and colors — New York Chevvies and Boston Grays — and even made up imaginary salary disputes he “covered” in made-up newsletters. That is why some say he is the creator of fantasy baseball.
The man who lived at the ballpark
Roy Hofheinz was such a flamboyant superfan that he lived at the baseball stadium he helped build — the Houston Astrodome.
The city’s former mayor built the ballpark as a gilded, modern-day Roman coliseum.
A 1968 pictorial in Life magazine showcased the family’s glamorous, gilded five-story living quarters inside the dome.
Sports Illustrated described the decor as “early whorehouse,” with its floors and walls covered with red carpet, psychedelic wallpaper and zebra-print chairs.
Hofheinz’s office was in the right field. He had his own barber shop, his wife her own beauty salon. Their kids played in a circus-themed play area. There was a chapel and a Presidential Suite for Hofheinz’s good friend, President Lyndon Johnson.
The living area was torn down six years after Hofheinz died in 1982 to make room for 10,000 seats.
Fanaticism at new heights
Trying to break the infamous “Curse of the Bambino,” Boston fan and serious mountain climber Paul Giorgio climbed Mount Everest in May 2001 and placed a Red Sox cap there.
Then, for safe measure, he burned a Yankees hat, too, since the curse allegedly began when the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to New York.
“Fortunately, I found some kerosene,” he said.
In an earlier curse-busting attempt, a Boston radio station in 1992 had chain-smoking Father Guido Sarducci from “Saturday Night Live” perform an exorcism of Fenway.
The rock star fan
When Rush bassist Geddy Lee sat down for an interview with Rolling Stone last year he started by saying: “I sometimes look on Twitter to follow baseball transactions – but that’s it.”
The Canadian rocker, a Toronto Blue Jays fan, has been obsessed with the game his entire life.
In 2007 he visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and “was just so impressed and so emotional about the stories this museum tells and it just stayed with me. I thought so many baseball fans around the country had no idea how incredible this place was.”
The next year he returned to Kansas City to donate a collection of some 200 baseballs autographed by Negro Leagues players and backers, among the largest single donations the museum had ever received.
Lee told Ultimate Classic Rock last year that the World Series between the Royals and Giants “was great. The playoffs were really exciting, and I thought the World Series was great. The games that I was able to see were really good.”
An Oakland A’s fan, writer Benjamin Christensen has every MLB mascot tattooed on his body — American League on the right side of his torso, National League on the left.
The devil really is in the details, like the red eyes on the Pirate Parrot, a tribute to Dock Ellis’ no-hitter while high on LSD in 1970.
In a gallery of baseball-themed fan tattoos at Tattoolous. com, a fan shows off the name of “Ellsbury” — aka Jacoby Ellsbury now of the Yankees — inked on the slobbery inside of his lower lip.
Warns the site: “Ok, let’s explain this slowly…you got a tattoo…of a baseball player’s name…on the inside of your lip…and that sounded like a good idea… While this may be hardcore ... let’s just think about how silly this will be once the guy gets traded or retires; or this guy with the tattoo reaches his 40’s.”
Zack Hample knows where to catch a ball in every stadium in the nation - and he has a collection of more than 7,000 baseballs to prove it.
He told The Daily Mail last year that he’s spent at least $100,000 and tens of thousands of hours perfecting his right-place-at-the-right time technique.
“I wasn’t good enough to be a Major League Baseball player but I’m still probably better at judging and catching fly balls than 99.9 per cent of the public,” he said.
“When I’m at a game and the ball goes up in the air I’m not even looking at it - I’m already running and climbing over rows and planning my path and dodging vendors and people.
“Then I look up and if I’ve done a good job the ball’s right there for me to catch.”
The 37-year-old New York man made headlines this season when he caught Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th career hit and didn’t immediately give the ball back. Hample eventually returned the ball in exchange for a $150,000 donation to his favorite charity.
His Twitter feed is just one ballpark tweet after another after another after ...
Epic road trip
Wisconsin native Matt Stoltz, 22, bicycled to all 30 MLB stadiums this season, racking up 11,155 miles on his Novara Randonee.
He did it to raise money for Biking for Baseball, a Denver non-profit that raises money and support for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He started his trip on April 7 in Seattle and ended at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Oct. 3.
His stats: 180 nights on the road, 2,342,550 pedal strokes and more than $24,000 raised.
“I love meeting baseball fans and experiencing the culture of each team and their fan base,” he told ABC News. “I’m meeting fans the whole game and get a great perspective of the stadium and the teams and how great the fans are.”
Lost his life at the ballpark
Gregory Murrey, 60, died in August died while watching his beloved Atlanta Braves play baseball.
He fell out of some upper-deck stands during the seventh inning of a game against the Yankees as Alex Rodriguez walked to home plate.
Fans nearby said Murrey was booing A-Rod when he fell.
“Greg was a season ticket holder with the same seats for 23 years,” his family told CNN in a statement.
“The night Greg passed away, he was doing one of his favorite things — watching the Braves.”