It was a crisp fall day, some four years ago. At 5am, in the early morning darkness, I found myself wandering the streets of the Bronx, to get front-row, “standing room only” seats, for the first time in my life, to celebrate a Yankees World Series Championship, with the Ticker Tape Parade. Wrapped up in anticipation of the arrival of the victory floats, I looked up amongst a sea of NYY fans, to recognize a familiar face and hand painted sign that read, ”Yankees 2009 World Champions!”…could it be him?
I recognized the kind face, with one eye slightly winking because it had unfortunately been poked during a childhood stick ball game, forcing him to lose sight in his right eye and the sweet, welcoming smile.
It wasn’t one of the guys on the active Yankees roster, but their unofficial mega promoter himself- Freddy “Sez” Schuman, with his homemade signs and frying pan drum, with the four-leaf clover representing good luck. I sprinted over to him and figured everyone always coined him for what a big Yanks fan he was, so I was going to excitedly explain just how much of a fan I was of him. He was what I surely aspire to be…the Yankees solo superfan.
Here he was: a man of eighty-something, out before the sun rises on a chilly fall day. He was not going to miss another parade. In 2000, he was in the hospital during the parade and Mayor Giuliani brought the World Series trophy to him at his hospital bedside, ensuring that the Bronx Bombers’ biggest fan wouldn’t have to miss out. Schuman was even flown out to Arizona for the 2001 World Series by NYC’s mayor. He was and will always be a big deal to the Yankees, fans, and the city of New York.
Earlier in life, he attempted owning an array of his own businesses in the areas of: chocolate, bicycles, and trucking. When all fell apart he decided his true calling was to be “Freddy Sez”, whom he became in 1988.
His famous signs and pans are on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center. Freddy can even be spotted in House of Pain’s “Jump Around” music video (just after the 3 min mark), among countless notable appearances throughout his existence. He became: “the famous sports fan”, which not many of us get to experience.
Yankee nation lost “Freddy Sez” three years ago, at the age of 85, from a heart attack. In a tribute, the Yankees displayed some of his memorabilia and held a moment of silence prior to Game 3 of the 2010 American League Championship Series. His constant positivity and warm heart made this once average man, a celebrity at the “House that Ruth Built.” What sets him apart was his infectious encouragement and dedication to his team and fellow fans. He was the fan we’d all hope to be: always positive and genteel.