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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

RIP Tuba Man

A Seattle icon has died, and the details are grisly.

Tuba Man is inextricably linked to my very first memories of going to Mariners games back in the mid to late 80’s. The team was terrible but I didn't care. Stealing one out of three when the fearsome Oakland A's came to town was all I really wanted.

I always brought my mitt (with the crossed out "Jose Canseco" signature where I wrote in "Lyman Bostock" instead) even though we were sitting up in the 300 level. By the second inning, it was easy to sneak down to one of the prime seats along the first baseline. I came across the ferry from Bainbridge Island and walked down through Pioneer Square to the stadium. My friends and I laughing and feeling the thrill of the "big city" the whole time.

Tuba Man was a fixture of the carnival atmosphere outside any Seattle sporting event. I can’t remember a game when I didn't hear him from at least a block away from the stadium. I remember Mark James and I asking him if he would play Stairway to Heaven. He had this baritone chortle of a response… "How does it go?" It was the only time I ever actually talked to him.

He seemed like one of those eccentric and committed fans who you can’t help but love. It seems grossly unfair for him to leave this world in such a way. He was mugged and beaten by teenagers, and died in the hospital shortly thereafter.

I wish that those kids could attend the funeral… and that there would be thousands of people there... and eulogies by long-time public servants like Ron Sims or Seattle historians like Greg Palmer who might explain the value that such people bring to our city… so that their eyes might be widened.



At 11/05/2008 02:10:00 AM, Blogger Pam said...

They are deficient John, and probably cannot feel remorse.

I heard that Tubaman died at home, after being released from the hospital. That made cynical me wonder if his lack of money had anything to do with his rapid discharge...

Anyway, the guys at KOMO radio are gathering funds to pay for a funeral befitting a sweet icon, and also to maybe put a plaque of some kind outside Safeco, or the Opera House, or one of the places he frequented.

A sad event on an otherwise joyous, borogroves kind of day.

At 11/05/2008 10:08:00 PM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

I saw Tubaman a few weeks ago right before an M's game. He seemed agitated and disoriented and it seemed odd to see him that way. Sad what happened. The punks who killed him were only 15. Jesus Christ!

At 11/06/2008 03:13:00 PM, Blogger Bob said...

It’s certainly comforting to see that so many others share my admiration for a man so iconic, so passionate, so synonymous with Seattle sports that Sports Illustrated felt it necessary to designate him a “super fan.” I too remember listening to his honking renditions of whatever song seemed to strike his fancy at the moment, and was gifted a melancholy smile when I read about his playing of a death-march tune after the Sonics dismissal at the hands of the Denver Nuggets in 1994. How fitting.

Now we’re down an icon at a time when Seattle sports could use one the most.

Remember that scene at the end of Titanic where the couple is reunited after death, and they’re walking up a stairway surrounded by friends and loved ones? If there’s a sports-fan afterlife, I’d like to think mine would include a walk down Occidental to the blurting tuba-rific rendition of the Star Wars theme as I go to watch my dominant Mariners win the World Series.

Yeah, my sports fantasy will always include Tubaman. Rest in peace, friend.


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