One of the joys of going to Yankee Stadium and one of the great highlights of my time covering the team as a reporter was simply being around a man named Freddy. Freddy Schuman was kind of an unofficial mascot at the stadium. He had a sign that he carried around with him that would say:
Freddy sez: “Opening Day 2010: Let’s make it 28!” (a reference to the number of World Series Championships the Yankees have won.)
He’d also carry around a kitchen spoon and a shamrock laden pot (more like a pan really) that would hang from his sign and he’d bang that pan with the spoon and allow fans to tap it as he walked around the stadium.
Freddy was a genius in simplicity. What many don’t know is that Freddy was not just a Yankee fan but was also a great supporter of the Bronx in general. I saw him at Fordham games often and Manhattan College games (which is strangely located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and not Manhattan). I’d see him on the subway and he’d often take in a high school football game as well in his beloved borough. But it was indeed the Bronx Bombers that he was most in love with. Yankee jacket in tow, Freddy was an institution.
“Clang, clang, clang!” Here comes Freddy! I said it probably a thousand times and it never got old.
Sadly, Freddy, that Yankee institution, died at the age of 85 after having a heart attack on Friday night.
One of the moments that I remember from Freddy was the time that some idiot stole Freddy’s tin pan. He had been using the same one for the entire time he had been attending games–an incredible span of 22 years! About 10 years ago, the pan got stolen. The New York Daily News even ran a piece asking the thief to return the pan with no questions asked. I don’t think I ever saw Freddy sadder than when he was without that sentimental piece of his mascot-dom.
The thief did indeed return the pan to the News and when it was given back to Freddy he began to strike that pan with such pure unadulterated joy! It was a moment I will never forget.
The Yankees will have a moment of silence for Freddy tonight, but I think it would be more appropriate if the starting 9 all brought pans and spoons out to their spot on the field and filled that silence with the clanging that Freddy brought with him to the stadium each and every time. Maybe the fans could also join in although I doubt security would allow them to bring in all that metal.
Regardless, tonight, remember a nice man named Freddy who only sought to support his team, bring us all a bit of joy and bang a pot with glee.