Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Most Faithful Fan

You think you've seen a lot of baseball, that you are committed to your job, but then you encounter fans like Bobbie and Marvin Wheeler. You stand humbly in their shadow. 

As the Wheelers neared retirement they embraced the Bulls with gusto. Nearly 35 years ago. 2500 games later. Super fans! In their seats on the cross aisle behind home plate, they have been fixtures at the DBAP. Quiet celebrities. 

And we are mourning the passing of Marvin. He died Sunday. Almost made it to his 89th birthday. His funeral was Wednesday. 

Marvin was a serious gardener, and we sang "This is My Father's World" at the service. (The hymn dates back to the late 1800s, written by a minister who pitched for Syracuse University's baseball club.) Our staff contingent included seating bowls hosts, ticket reps and the stadium operations director. Wool E. Bull attended (in civilian disguise.) The ballpark family grieves. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bobbie. 

Here's a great profile on the Wheelers from 2013, part of the Bull City Summer project. A year later their photo was on display in the NC Museum of Art for the BCS exhibition. Most worthy! 

If you are a regular here you may recall their companion, Frankie Parrott. He was the blind man, at every game as well, until his passing in 2014. The Wheelers often brought him to the ballpark. Frankie sat with them and listened to the game on his radio. He was more animated than Marvin and Bobbie, and we treasured his occasional shout "Hey ump, are you blind!?!" 

A unique aspect of the sports business is this cadre of special patrons - their great longevity, loyalty and personality. Again, something to treasure.