I’ll admit, in the grand list of depressing events, sitting near a Poor Heckler isn’t near the top. It’s most likely somewhere between the premature cancellation of Carnivàle and hearing that your team just signed Neifi Pérez to a long-term deal. But that’s little solace when you’re stuck near one for nine innings of a ball game, like I recently was during a White Sox-Angels game in Anaheim. He was two rows in front of us, and, worst of all, he was a White Sox fan.
Whenever the umpire called a strike for the Sox (or against the Angels), the Poor Heckler would throw up his hands and shout out a pirate “Arrgh!” When A.J. Pierzynski—the lead character in last year’s dropped-third-strike debacle—strolled up to bat, the heckler tried to drown out the boos with a strange high-pitched dying-hyena sound. There were no words to his heckles, only grunts and noises that would make any Neanderthal grunt back in beaming pride.
My lady friend was quickly annoyed. To calm her down, I told her that the heckler was bound to calm down after the adrenaline rush of the first few innings wore off. What I didn’t account for was the fueling power of alcohol. And, boy, could that man drink.
It was a pitchers’ duel all night. The Sox were leading by a run going into the ninth, which meant it was time for the Rally Monkey to make his appearance. Once the jumping simian showed up, the heckler started yelling “Rally Monkey! Rally Monkey!” over and over to every Angels fan around him, marking the first time he uttered actual words. Unfortunately, they were apparently the only words he knew. He repeated the words over and over, like a small child learning to speak for the first time.
“Rally Monkey! Rally Monkey!”
And then he turned around and saw me in my White Sox sweatshirt.
He locked onto me, figuring I’d approve of his heckles since I was rooting for the same team. After each chant of “Rally Monkey!,” he’d turn to me like a comedian pandering to an unkind audience after his latest quip about airplane food. And, because of the location of his seat, whenever he pandered to me, his head blocked my view of the plate.
The final inning was a blur of gigantic cranium. I recall that the White Sox won the game (which made me happy), but that gave the Poor Heckler more material to work with (which made me sad). In any case, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.
And now for the lessons we’ve learned. If you’re going to heckle, please (a) use actual words and keep the grunting to a minimum, (b) don’t pander to your audience (it only makes you look desperate), © repetition does not always work, and, most importantly, (d) don’t have a large head that gets in my way. Thank you all in advance.
Enough rambling. Onward and upward to the heckles!
I was at an Orioles game, sitting pretty far back in left-center, right next to the visitors’ bullpen. In Camden Yards, the bullpens are on a hill, so you can look directly into the bullpen dugout. The players are maybe 15-20 feet away behind a nylon net. I’m not much of a heckler, but sitting in front of us were three fat kids, around 12-13 years of age. They had no parental supervision, so, as you can imagine, they wouldn’t shut up. For seven innings, they harassed the Royals bullpen with the dumbest insults imaginable. “You suck!” seemed to be the prevailing theme of their attack.
After the seventh-inning stretch, the players struck back. “Hey, fat kids! Look at this!” The entire section looked over to see three Royals pitchers waving Kit Kat and Snickers bars. The fat kids went silent. One of the kids even started crying! A few minutes later, security came over and took the kids away. Not only did they lose the heckle war, they got tossed from the game. The entire section cheered their departure.
A few co-workers and I try to make it down to Orioles games whenever they play anyone of interest. In a game last season, when we were actually beating the Yankees, my inebriated co-worker started screaming “Jeter’s a hermaphrodite!” at the top of his lungs in the family section. It didn’t appear that Jeter was rattled, but numerous families with small children did leave the area. Also, one lady asked what a hermaphrodite was, which led to what may have been the longest discussion on the subject that ever occurred in the lower reserve section at Camden Yards.
Comiskey, Easter Sunday, two-hour rain delay, day after a gigantic brawl with the Tigers. The only people to wait out a two-hour rain delay on Easter Sunday are fans who are looking to see a continuation of the previous day’s brawl. This means (a) very few people at the stadium overall, and (b) people that are “a little less refined.” A perfect atmosphere for heckling.
During the delay, the entire crowd moved to directly behind home plate. The guy next to me yelled to the umpire, Jerry Crawford, “Hey, Crawford …” Crawford turns around, genuinely curious, and the entire crowd is silent, listening. “We hate you!” His smile turned to a frown, and several times throughout the game he’d look at us and shake his head.
One fan got it in his head that Chone Figgins sounded a lot like Higgins, of Magnum, P.I. fame. Amusing as it was to hear the fan tell “Higgins” that he sucked every time he came to bat for 18 innings, it got tired after about the fifth at-bat.
As the game approached the last innings, Figgins came to the on-deck circle. When the Jays made a pitching change, the few thousand fans fell briefly quiet. I don’t know if it was the late hour or the five hours of heckling that inspired it, but our heckling fan had clearly hit his limit and broke out a desperate, nonsensical heckle. Clearly confused as to where his own “Higgins” reference came from, he stood up and yelled:
“Hey, Higgins! Where’s Hasselhoff?”
The remaining fans burst out laughing in disbelief. Figgins shook his head. In the bottom of the 18th, with a runner on third, Orlando Hudson smoked a pitch through Figgins at second. Clearly, he was still rattled by the heckle. It cost his team the game.
During the 2002 Devil Rays season, my friend and I worked at Tropicana Field. At a Texas Rangers game that summer, we started to yell some random Spanish curses at Juan González in right field. Irritated, he began to flash the outfield fans “the finger” while concealing it from the cameras with his glove. We continued to holler. In the seventh inning, all hell broke loose.
González turned around before the start of the inning and began to thrust his pelvis at us while bringing both arms toward his member and making neurotic faces at us and about 43 other people in the general vicinity. Stunned, we sat down. I guess you could say he won, but I’ll never forget the day Juan González thrust his pelvis at me.