Sure, you support your favorite sports team. You wear the team ball cap, have a team logo decal in your car window, maybe even drink out of an official team mug. But do you love it enough to dress up in team colors and dance around in public?
The Washington Bullets of the 1980s never contended for an NBA championship. Despite the Bullets’ losing ways, their arena was among opposing teams’ least favorite places to play. Reason: Robin Ficker. For 12 years, the season-ticket holder heckled Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, and other NBA stars from his seats directly behind the visiting team’s bench. Barkley was so impressed by his jeering that he even flew Ficker out to sit behind the Chicago Bulls bench during a playoff game against Barkley’s Phoenix Suns. But Ficker’s reign as the NBA’s top heckler ended in 1997 when the Bullets (now called the Wizards) moved to their new arena, the MCI Center. For reasons unknown, Ficker’s seat was relocated from behind the opposing bench to underneath the basket, robbing him of his ability to distract the other team’s players and coaches. Ficker immediately canceled his season tickets and didn’t attend another Wizards game until the 2014 playoffs.
Darrell Bailey loves the Los Angeles Clippers. In the 1990s, he was fired from his job as an electrician. He went home and turned on a Clippers game, only to hear the announcers talking about what losers the Clippers were—that the team was a lost cause and was never going anywhere. Bailey could relate—his boss had told him similar things that day. That’s the moment Bailey decided to devote himself to being a die-hard Clippers fan.
He eventually got another job, affording him the season tickets that would make him “Clipper Darrell.” Since 2001, he’s been at every Clippers home game wearing a tailored suit in Clippers colors (red and blue). In 2010 the Clippers briefly lost Darrell’s support when they asked him not to use the word “Clipper” when making paid appearances. Darrell’s renunciation of his fandom made national headlines and drew support from star Clippers players Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. The two sides eventually came to a compromise: Clipper Darrell would notify the organization whenever he was hired to appear at an event. He’s now back in the stands at every game.
Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers
There are two constants for the Chicago Cubs: waiting till next year (their last World Series win was in 1908), and Woo Woo Wickers. Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Wickers has been going to Cubs games and yelling his signature cheer of “Cubs! Woo! Cubs! Woo!” at the top of his lungs since the late 1950s. Wickers has had a hard life: he spent much of the 1980s homeless and, unable to hold down a job, earned money by washing windows and making personal appearances at Cubs-centric events. And not everybody loves him—some people find his loud cheers disruptive and annoying. But for most Cubs fans, Woo Woo’s unwavering optimism, even in the face of such criticism, makes him a living embodiment of baseball’s lovable losers.
Wild Bill Hagy
Except for maybe Cal Ripken Jr. (and his streak of 2,632 consecutive games played), the most consistent presence at Baltimore Orioles games in the 1970s and 1980s was Wild Bill Hagy. This superfan would stand on top of the home team’s dugout and lead fans in chants of “O-R-IO- L-E-S!” But in 1985 Memorial Stadium banned fans from bringing outside alcohol into the stands with them, and that made Hagy go wild. He staged a protest against the new rule by tossing his cooler onto the field. When police arrested Hagy for disorderly conduct, he vowed never to attend another Orioles game. But after the Orioles were sold and moved to a new stadium—Camden Yards—in 1992, Hagy agreed to return on special occasions to lead the “O-R-I-O-L-E-S!” chant… such as the night Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak in 1995. Hagy died in 2007 and has since been inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame.
New York City firefighter Edwin Anzalone started regularly attending New York Jets games at the Meadowlands in 1986. At every game, Ed’s brother, Frank, would hoist him up on his shoulders while Ed (wearing his fireman’s helmet) led the crowd in a chant of “J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS!
JETS!” Dubbed “Fireman Ed” by local sports radio shows, he became one of the NFL’s most famous cheerleaders and was even featured in a Football Hall of Fame exhibit about fandom in 1999. But it all came to an end on Thanksgiving in 2012. During a sold-out, nationally televised game, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez ran into a teammate’s backside and fumbled the ball, and an opposing team’s player ran it back for a touchdown. Anzalone was so embarrassed by how Jets fans booed and taunted Sanchez that he left the game during halftime. Fireman Ed still goes to Jets games, but he sits in a different section and no longer wears his fireman’s helmet.