Freddy Sez, a fixture at Yankee games for as long as I can remember. (Photo by flickr user amb*r)
When I was a little kid, nothing would please me more at Yankee Stadium, other than a win from the Bombers, than a chance to bang on Freddy’s pan. In the days when 25,000 was considered a big crowd, Freddy with his “Freddy Sez” signs would roam the aisles of Yankee Stadium, and fans could hear that pan coming from sections away.
Over the years, Freddy has garnered his loyal following and has become something of an unofficial Yankee mascot to many. Two years ago, Manny Fernandez shed some light on Freddy with a profile in The Times. Freddy, we learned, has few teeth because he used to own a candy shop and has one eye after a stickball accident when he was nine years old in 1934.
These days, Freddy’s clanging spoon isn’t as loud as it used to be. With capacity crowds at Yankee Stadium, the familiar sounds of Freddy fade into a generally raucous stadium. But as the 83-year-old makes the rounds, slower than he used to, that sound still fills the sections of the stadium.
Now, I had always thought that Yankee fans were amused by Freddy. Here was an old man who loved the Yankees and showed it. But not everyone loves Freddy, I’ve learned over the last few weeks. While in 2005, Don Larsen clearly thought that Freddy was too loud, over the last few days, Freddy backlash has spread among a few Yankee fans.
It started last week with an off-handed comment late in the game on PeteAbe’s site. Wrote the beat writer: “By the way, instead of a Hard Rock, the new Stadium needs to have a moat filled with giant snakes. That way they’ll have someplace to throw the guy who bangs on the pan. Is this New York or Arkansas?” That’s grumpy, no?
Today, in a piece all too accepting of stadium diversions that detract from the game, make all together too much noise in between innings and should get off my lawn while they’re at it, Moshe Mandel at The Bronx Block advocates for the end of Freddy. “The sound of him hitting that pan is maddening,” complains Mandel. “I can’t bring in a soda can but he can bring in a frying pan? Kiss it goodbye.”
So as the Yankees turn their eyes north to a new stadium rising at the corner of 161st St. and River Ave., their fans are growing wary of the frying-pan-banging old guy who simply loves the Yanks. Now, call me a sappy traditionalist, but I like Freddy. The cowbell guys at Shea Stadium and Tampa? Those are just rip-offs. Sure, he’s getting old; sure, his signs aren’t nearly as creative as they used to be. But I’d take the Yanks’ Freddy any day. There are things far more annoying at Yankee Stadium every day.