Monday, October 18, 2010

Freddy Sez

When the old Yankee Stadium was torn down, one piece of it remained intact - Freddy Schuman, with his frying pan, spoon and placard. Mr. Schuman, known to all of us by his self- proclaimed alter ego as Freddy Sez, died yesterday.

Here was this man, with one eye, seemingly without companions, walking night after night, and day after day, throughout the stands. He was as much a part of the fabric of the building as the Babe, the Mick, Lou and the rest of the Yankee immortals.

No matter the circumstances, if defeat was imminent, if the team was struggling, if the weather was cold and rainy, the sound of someone banging on that pan with that spoon would echo reassuringly that "Freddy is here". I would search the stands to see if I could locate my 'old friend', and his sign proclaiming that victory was assured. Whenever I caught a glimpse of him, I would smile and wave, like he was someone I had made arrangements to meet.

In the wrong light, he could appear an isolated, old and pathetic caricature. There seemed no existence for him outside the confines of what he made his adopted home. In the constant company of strangers, he would be forever in motion, never stopping long enough to make any meaningful connection.

But, I chose to see a different person, one of undying passion, and uncompromising devotion. In a world filled with half-truths and hidden agendas, Freddie was unfiltered and pure in his love for his team.

We recently were all witness to the unveiling of the larger than life memorial to the larger than life former principal owner of the Yankees. I wonder if there will be one day be a plaque commemorating the accomplishments of Freddy Schuman.

For most of the world there has always been only two great constants, death and taxes. For Yankee fans, there has been a third. The Stadium will forever seem a little quieter, and a little less embracing. For a man who walked in solitude, he left many a friend behind. Goodbye Freddy. You will be missed.

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