All things considered, it’s one helluva time to be a St. Louis sports fan. The Cardinals won their 11th World Series in franchise history, the Blues finally found a meaningful mix of veteran leadership and youthful play-makers and SLU and Mizzou look primed to both make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.
Oh, and the Rams. Hey, they’re still in St. Louis. At least, that’s what league sources are telling us.
This cornucopia of local athletic excellence means one thing: an evolution of weirdo fans.
It’s a proven fact: when subjects on the field succeed, their counterparts off the field raise their game exponentially. Higher levels of intoxication, more egregious costumes, increased willingness to be photographed. Thankfully, our dedicated staff of fan hunters were there throughout the year to capture the action.
And thus, we present our Top Twenty-Five from 2011.
#25: Albert Pujols Cubs Fan
We begin with this fan because he helped set the tone for arguably the biggest St. Louis sports story of 2011. Namely, that Albert Pujols wasn’t going to be a member of the Cardinals forever. While Pujols didn’t end up in the Windy City, it set mood of perpetual nervousness and bittersweet success in St. Louis.
#24: The Pujols Family
Just to be clear: our fan hunters raised their game this year. It’s no longer about finding the most inebriated monkey in any given stadium. Okay, fine. It’s still about that….but our staff is getting more creative; more artsy. Here’s a photo that is pure ingenuity, especially knowing what we know now. Anyone from the Cardinals ticket office that tells you that they’re not concerned about the departure of Albert Pujols is lying to your face.
Something tells us that Christmas dinner at this household was a little somber this holiday season.
#23: 10 (er, um 11) World Championships!!!
Before the eventual loss of that one Latino first-baseman, the Cardinals beat historically-insurmountable odds to not only reach the postseason, but win it. Needless to say, no one thought that 2011 would be the year that the Cardinals won their franchise’s 11th World Championship. Especially the clown below. But hey, that’s nothing a little electrical tape from the garage can’t solve. Boom. 11 World Championships now, kids. Bet you didn’t even notice. If a surrounding inhabitant suddenly needs to wrap and insulate a frayed power cord, this guy will have a serious decision on his hands. Assist or keep his handiwork in tact. Tough call.
We apologize for the graininess of the photo. We send our fan hunters into the harshest condition to deliver you the madness.
#22: Red Suit “Man”
Our fan hunters didn’t invest the necessary research to determine the gender of this fan, but he/she/it caught our cameras before Game 6 of the World Series. Shim makes this particular list specifically because we think that stuffing a pair of eyeglasses underneath a suit that is supposed to be razor-smooth is comical. The only thing more humorous would have been eyeglasses strapped to the outside of the costume.
#21: Fear the RED DOG
It’s nice to see that the Number 69 is still a viable jersey option in 2011. And here we thought its hilarity intersected for a brief moment in history with “Beavis and Butthead” and “Billy Madison.” Apparently, we were wrong. It’s still hilarious. At least it is to a local hooligan who goes as “RED DOG”. Our sources could not confirm nor deny that this was actually Mark McGwire, but one thing is for sure, fear was struck in the eyes of a Busch Stadium attendant one early morning in April.
#20: PARTY MARTY
Football hooligans often use personalized jerseys as a billboard to show how they’re the life of the party. This is certainly true for PARTY MARTY, who not only has a personalized jersey with his (self-appointed) nickname on the back, but an inscribed hat with the same moniker. True fan. Oh, and of course, he’s assigned himself the number one. Party Marty is also waiting to pay $20 for a photograph with Kyle Turley.
We desperately long for a wrestling match between Party Marty and REDDOG. Chairs, pipes, biting, whatever.
#19: You Are Sooooooo Taguchi
If you’re blowing money on a #99 jersey that doesn’t involve Rick Vaughn, there’s no reason to ignore a joke that approximately 89% of Cardinals fans broke out at some point or another during Soooooo Taguchi’s career in St. Louis.
18: Scott Rolen Hater
Typically, duct tape on a jersey involves modifying an old player’s name to satisfy the current jersey number inhabitant. While it’s highly irreverent to the old player, it’s also a swift kick to the ego of the new player that the modified jersey exhibits. You know, since said “new player” isn’t worthy enough (yet) to merit the purchasing of a real jersey.
Sitting on the third-base line with the Cincinnati Reds and Scott Rolen in September, the gentleman below brought the heat. He didn’t leverage duct tape to sport a makeshift Tyler Greene or Ron Villone jersey (the only two Cardinal players to wear #27 since Rolen’s departure). No, sir. He went old school, so as to tell the former Cardinals All-Star that he always preferred Todd Zeile’s tenure in St. Louis. Todd Zeile is THE #27, Mr. Rolen. Not you. Brilliance.
#17: Jesus is #1
The excitement at the Cardinals World Series Parade reached a critical mass. Local fans have been waiting a lifetime for an event of this magnitude. That is, fans under the age of five. Hey-oooo!! Chicago Cubs fan zing. Anyway, we’re not big fans of religious activists because they’re usually looking for trouble, but this fan sign is just tremendous. Our scouts tell us Jesus had one heck of a curveball.
#16: The Least Creative Blues Jersey Ever
Due an undying affinity to poke fun at hooligans and buffoons (especially at hockey game), we tend to overlook jerseys that are simplistically stupid. That is, until we noticed the following fellow nitwit at Scottrade Center in October.
The last name: BLUES. The number: um, one. You know, because the Blues are #1. Or #5 in the Western Conference. But hey, that’s a little long to fit on a jersey nameplate. We deduct more points for violating the sanctity of #1. On the hockey side, that’s reserved for Pat Jablonski and Pat Jablonski only.
#15: Bleacher Bum Art
A shirtless man…with a skullet…sitting in the last row of the Busch Stadium bleachers….slugging a Budweiser…wrapped in a brought-from-home bottle koozie? You know, not all of our favorite fan photos feature a crazed lunatic in a ridiculous jersey. Oh, no. This one should be classified as “art.” Poster-sized prints on canvas should be made available immediately. Hang this sucker above the fireplace.
#14: Another La Russa Sobriety Fan
Arguably, the most infamous fan jersey we’ve posted at JoeSportsFan.com is the LARUSSA #.093 jersey that was captured at Busch Stadium in 2007 a few weeks after the Cardinals skipper was dinged for a DUI in Spring Training. The jersey accumulated quite a few laughs at the time, but granted, the news was fresh. More than four years later, another fan at Busch Stadium apparently believes the joke still has legs.
#13: Fredbird’s biggest fan
We’re big fans of mullets because they typically reside on Bon Jovi roadies, carnival ride operators and St. Louis sports fans. All unintentionally-hilarious individuals. Now, this hairdo is usually accompanied with a bold attitude. Thus, when we see a party-in-the-back touching the shoulders of a Cardinals jersey, we expect it to complement the edgy disposition. Fredbird? Pardon our pun, but he’s the softest creature in the stadium.
This jersey is extra offensive since Fredbird doesn’t wear the Number One, or any number for that matter. Besides, the Number One is retired and unavailable. It belongs to Ozzie, not some grown man dressed as a bird.
#12: Dave, bro. Dave.
2011 saw U2 playing live on the field of Busch Stadium in mid-July. But let us not forgot those that have come before Bono and the boys. The gentleman below certainly hasn’t. Although, we may be jumping to conclusions here. The rationalist in us postulates that this guy bought a personalized Dave Matthews Band jersey when they came to Busch Stadium in 2008. DMB + Busch Stadium = Cardinals jersey. Then again, who the hell knows. One thing is for sure, this guy really likes the Dave Matthews Band and the song “#41“.
Or maybe his initials are “DMB” and he really likes Mitchell Boggs. Either way, we’re guessing this guy would challenge you to a timed keg-stand immediately.
#11: Joe Namath Rams Fan
The Cardinals World Series parade brought fanatics out of the woodwork. The levels of obscurity were almost tough to comprehend. We saw a Spiezio jersey. A Joe Mather. Heck, even a Tom Brunanski. But the most random jersey we saw wasn’t a Cardinals jersey at all. It was a Joe Namath Rams jersey. A Joe Namath Rams jersey at a St. Louis Cardinals World Series parade. Yikes. Namath played one season (of thirteen) for the LOS ANGELES Rams. Joe Namath is a New York Jet. Period.
That’s like wearing a Tino Martinez Cardinals jersey to a New York Giants Super Bowl parade.
#10: Louie’s Number One Fan
Generally speaking, mascots scare the bejesus out of us. They’re overly animated, abrasive and rarely wear pants. That behavior outside of a fur suit will land you a night in the slammer. Nevertheless, we accept that kids love mascots. Photographs, high-fives, hugs: all acceptable. A personalized jersey: yeah, a little bizarre. This particular mascot jersey beats FREDBIRD at #13 on our rankings because it’s complemented by a signature from that mascot.
It’s even MORE bizarre when said fan is accompanied by a man wearing a replica jersey from TJ Oshie’s COLLEGE career at North Dakota.
#9: Four Twenty
Not to be outdone by the Dave Matthews Band bro above, this renaissance man explicitly announced to the world “I like marijuana” through a customized Cardinals jersey. Interesting. Also interesting: there’s about a 92% chance that this is actually Jeff Weaver.
#8: Ole Rust
There’s only one event that can match the weirdos per capita of a Cardinals World Series Parade: the annual Winter Warm-up. With Busch Stadium sitting dormant in the January frost, Winter Warm-up is tremendous opportunity for fans to show their support for the home team. Since fans won’t break out their Cardinals gear for another for three months, they tend to go a little nutty. That is, with their attire. Or, in Rust’s case, with their hairdos.
Added weirdo bonus: the last player to wear #73: Ricardo Rincon. But we’re guessing #73 is an homage to Rust’s high rank in World of Warcraft.
#7: Bradford Duct Tape
Despite a mediocre ’11 season bridled with injuries, there was significant hype surrounding Sam Bradford’s rookie season as the Rams quarterback. He led the Rams to a 7-9 record, smiled a lot and signed a big contract to endorse Charter before his team played their first game in 2011. But some fans weren’t totally convinced. At least, not enough to fork over $100 bucks for a Sam Bradford jersey. Instead, this woman turned an old Torry Holt jersey into a Sam Bradford jersey with a little assistance from a trusty roll of duct tape.
Is there anything duct tape can’t do (except hold together the Rams offensive line, of course)?
#6: Paul Kariya Blues/Ducks Fan
The St. Louis Blues have delivered some excitement this season. Given the past few season of over-promising, most fans and media had their doubts. Veteran leadership crumbled. Young talent faltered and was injured frequently. Fans were looking for a player to embrace in 2011. And what better player to embrace than one that announced his retirement before the Blues season even began this year.
And heck, because his time in St. Louis was subpar, you sure as hell better split that jersey down the middle to support said player’s time with a franchise named after a Disney movie.
#5: YOUR NAME
Generic team jerseys exist in every baseball merchandise shop across the country. Likewise, on graphical advertisements at MLB online outlets. They exist as a call-to-action; to let fans know that personalization is an option. But we’ve never seen these jerseys in the wild. That is, before this year. We suppose the real loser here is the store-front mannequin that stood momentarily naked in some merchandise store.
#4: ANGEL #69
Needless to say, the St. Louis Rams didn’t live up to expectations in 2011. Ironically, that failure is impressive considering it’s hard to have any expectations following a 1-15 and a 7-9 season. Nevertheless, a pre-season pep rally is a time for fans to show up and celebrate a clean slate. A rebirth of optimism, if you will. Apparently, it’s also time to proudly display your “Angel #69″ jersey. With kids. Classy.
And who says #69 jerseys are for overweight fraternity meatheads? This woman is real activist. The Number 69 is a unisex jersey option.
#3: Hull and Oates, Together Again
Brett Hull and Adam Oates are synonymous in St. Louis. They go together like Busch Stadium and the Clydesdales or Fox Sports Midwest and toupees. Needless to say, when we saw a man wearing a HULL jersey and a woman wearing an OATES jersey, our heart skipped a beat. True love is possible these days, kids.
Yes yes, the jersey is combination of Kansas City’s “BUTLER” and St. Louis’ “PUJOLS” and describes something of the nether region. Hilarious. But seriously, the patchwork. It looks like this guy constructed this product with a Swiss Army knife and a few safety pins. The two MLB logos on the collar are a nice touch.
More importantly, we’d like to point out that this gentleman appears to be an otherwise upstanding citizen (minus the jersey and all). His hair is trimmed and his jersey is belted tightly into a pair of khakis. We love raw meatheads, but this juxtaposition of normal/abnormal is fascinating. Let’s say he’s an otherwise regular dude. Regular dudes have jobs, and thus, bosses. Let’s say Regular Dude takes a trip to the urinal and runs into said boss at the concession stand. How does that discussion go? What if boss is with spouse? How does that introduction go? Is this event noted on Regular Dude’s annual review? These are the things we think about at night.
#1: Chris Sabo Cardinals Fan
We’ve seen just about every jersey out there. The retro, the personal, the obscene. And the really obscene. Lately, our preference is with the obscure. Really obscure. As such, we’re often asked what obscure Cardinals jersey has eluded our fan hunters.
The answer is simple: Chris Sabo.
Sure, his career in St. Louis only spanned a few games, but the man is a cult hero and we were proud to call him one of our own for a brief period in baseball history. Thus, you can imagine our amazement when a (St. Louis) Chris Sabo fan….with complementary REC SPECS…wandered in front of our lens this summer. Our bucket list got a little thinner that day.