Debating Freddy Sez

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Futures Game rosters announced

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.

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  • http://gftf2.proboards80.com/index.cgi Double-J

    Freddy is an institution. Leave the poor old guy alone.

    • TurnTwo

      seriously, this is what people are going to complain about?

  • http://WWW.mvn.com/mlb-yankees Moshe Mandel

    I accept the in between innings entertainment because it is in between innings. You need to entertain the casual fan and the kids. If you have ever gone with kids to a game, you know that a lot of them are just as interested in the scoreboard games as they are in the game itself. The stuff that I want to cut happens during the actual game, like the wave. Freddy was a great story for a while, but we have reached the point where it interferes with those watching the game at, home, you can often hear him clearly. We all complain when you hear these bells and drums in Cleveland and Tampa, so why should I think it is ok just because he is a Yankee fan?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Are you really bothered by Freddy while watching the game at home? Outside of games that I’m at, I’ve watched probably 75 percent or more of the games at home on TV with the sound on, and I have never been bothered by Freddy when the crowd mics pick him up. It’s not like in Tampa where the guy is sitting under the crowd mic or in Cleveland where they have an incessant drum beat.

      If you think it’s “interfer[ing] with those watching the game at home,” I think you’re being a tad bit too sensitive during those points in the game when Freddy’s picked up by the crowd mics.

    • Number 27

      agreed. the guy’s an institution. let him be. i heard last time i was at a yankee game that he gets into games for free.

      also, i don’t see how people can get so upset about banging a pot when they’re in a bowl with 50,000 people yelling, a sound system blaring, etc. is it really that distracting?

    • Casper

      “…we have reached the point where it interferes with those watching the game at, home, you can often hear him clearly.”

      Really? I’m a season-ticket holder, and when I’m not at the Stadium or if the Yanks are on the road, I’m watching the games on TV… I suppose sometimes you hear Freddy on TV, but does it really distract you from watching the game? And in the Stadium, too… It really distracts you from watching the game? This is totally subjective, but I just completely disagree. When I see Freddy pass through my section it’s kind of a sentimental thrill, and then he’s gone.

      We’re talking about an 83-year old man with a spoon. If one 83-year old man with a spoon is enough to distract you, watch the games on a muted TV.

      • steve (different one)

        yes, God forbid we are distracted from the invaluable insight of Michael Kay.

        if the Yankees got rid of Kay, and put Freddy IN THE BOOTH banging on that pan in front of a mic, i am not sure it wouldn’t be an improvement.

        • the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusiness

          Best comment ever. Of all times!

        • Lori

          ROFLMAO.

          Yes, put Freddy in the booth. Bye-bye, Michael and your big fat mouth.

  • http://WWW.mvn.com/mlb-yankees Moshe Mandel

    That’s fair. I think the complaining about Tampa and Cleveland have made me more attentive to the ambient sounds of the game than I was in the past. It is possible that many people do not notice him. The next home game, I will listen with a friend or someone else and see if they notice it.

  • Number 27

    “Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has whacked the pan. So has the Yankees’ principal owner, George Steinbrenner. Yogi Berra hit it, and Hideki Matsui did, too. Bruce Egloff, 57, a doorman in Manhattan who greeted Mr. Schuman at a recent Yankee game, has struck it, as has Joe Cohen, 31, a police officer in New Jersey who has been going to games since he was 5. “You come to Yankee Stadium and there’s certain staples that you expect,” Mr. Cohen said. “Great hot dogs and Freddy. Where else is he going to go where 50,000 people know his name?””
    – New York Times

    • Number 27

      check that times article ben links above. it’s a great read.

  • Cam

    No matter what it is, people will find complaint about it. We see that all the time. But to me, this is completely harmless. Like Double-J said, he’s sort of an institution. People are always looking for ways to connect to things and for a kid who banged on that pan when he was 14, he can go to a game when he’s 25 and still connect to Freddy, and a childhood memory. This is where baseball always seems to set itself aside from other things anyway, with nostalgia. Sure it might be slightly irritating, as is the drummer, whistle blower, etc., but like Ben said, when you’re at the game, it’s not like that is the sole focus in terms of noise. And sure, I hear it on my surround sound at home every once in a while, but it kind of puts a smile on my face. Makes me feel more like I’m at the game. It’s something the Yanks have that no other teams has. Plus, and I say this as nice as possible, he’s not going to be around that much longer. This is his joy in life. Let the guy be.

  • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Those damn Rays fans brought the cowbell to the freaking draft this year. I wanted to rip my ears off.

  • jk

    The drunks at Yankee games are annoying. Get rid of them. Freddy is very popular. Do not let a few grouches fool you into thinking it is time for him to go. If you need peace and quiet, buy a few $1,000 seats at the new Stadium and watch the game in your private club.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona Beach

    I’ve been to a few games in Tampa, and what they do there reminds me of minor league games. In the minors, for crowds to be loud they bring those annoying fuckin cowbells. It’s so country and bush league.
    I haven’t been to Yankee Stadium yet (to be remedied in late July), but I don’t think I have ever noticed Freddy on any broadcast. He can’t be that annoying, can he? I could understand if he was sitting in the same seat and you were around him, but the guy is walking around, no?
    He’s 83, let him enjoy this already.

  • Number 27

    At least we can always count on espn:

    • The Joba Watch: After watching two of Joba Chamberlain’s starts, one scout’s conclusion is: “I think he ought to be a closer, not a starter. His pitch counts get so high that I don’t know how deep he’ll be able to get in the game. And he’ s such a max-effort guy, I keep asking myself: ‘What’s he going to look like after his first surgery, if he keeps starting?’ “

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Jayson Stark is such a little punk. I remember when ESPN used to do good work. Those days are long gone.

      (That gem is from this piece, btw.)

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona Beach

        I just love those “anonymous” scout comments.

  • kris

    The comment just shows how much PeteAbe is an a-hole.

    • Number 27

      hahaha. it also shows that he just covers the yankees. any fandom is probably 80% his job and 20% the result of having to watch them every day. freddy sez is just an inconvenience for him, i suppose like the cowbells are for us in tampa. there is no sentiment or feeling in the judgement, its just noise.

  • http://WWW.mvn.com/mlb-yankees Moshe Mandel

    Like I said above, I have noticed it ever since I realized how annoying the Cleveland and Tampa stuff is. However, it seems like most of you dont really notice it and that I am in the minority. I am actually really curious to see what a fan of opposing team might say. I know Met fans and Red Sox fans who rip on it, but I think those teams would rip on anything Yankee.

  • whozat

    I don’t get to many Yankee games. I fell out of following baseball after the strike, and only came back to it in 2004 during the run up to the post-season. And I’ve lived in northern New England for the last ten years. But, my family’s had the same season tickets for 30, 40 years now. Grandpa had them at first and, as the price rose and he aged, my dad and uncle and their cousins started to split them amongst each other. So, I got to go to a lot of games when I was little, and always sit in the same exact seats, whether with my dad or uncle or grandpa. And Freddie’d always come by. We’d say hi to him on the way into the park. I just went to my last game at the stadium a couple weeks ago, as I was back in NY for my sister’s wedding. And Freddie was there, and we said hi to him :-)

    We won’t be able to afford the same seats in the new stadium. I won’t get to sit in my seats anymore. They’ll be priced so no one but corporate entities can afford them to give out to important visitors who don’t give a crap about the team. But it’d be nice if I could go to a game and still say hi to Freddie.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona Beach

      “…and only came back to it in 2004 during the run up to the post-season. ”
      So, you are the one to blame. haha

  • Scott

    What the should get rid of is the YMCA and Cotton Eye Joe. Now those two things are awful!!! Leave the old guy alone.

  • Jeremy

    The pan clanging is insufferable. But you can’t ban Freddy now. He’s as grandfathered as Rivera’s 42.

    However, anyone who uses their fingers to whistle during a game should be banned for life.

    • Number 27

      yeah and you should only be able to yell and cheer at certain decibal levels. clapping is ok, but absolutely no foot stombing or hollering!

      • Jeremy

        Hollering is fine. I draw the line at bellowing.

  • Adam

    things to leave at the old stadium:

    YMCA
    Cotton Eye Joe
    The Wave
    LaTroy Hawkins

  • Yankee1010

    In case anyone is interested, Montero is the only Yankee in the Futures Game. It would have been nice to have more than 1, but the Olympic team complicated things.

  • Dylan

    It’s only one guy and it quiet, its not a problem. When you’re talking about the echoing multitudes of cowbell in Tampa Bay, that is maddening. He’s easy to ignore should you choose to.

  • Phil McCracken

    Freddy doesn’t even bang the pan, he lets fans do it. So it shows how much these “critics” really know about him.

    Its nothing compared to Cow Bell Man in RF. You can’t even hear Freddy’s pan once he’s outside of visual range.

  • http://www.thebronxzoo.wordpress.com iYankees

    I love Freddy Sez. He’s one of those elements at Yankee Stadium that provides character to our culture as Yankee fans. He’s something that has developed over time and adds a touch of history and nostalgia to the games. The banging is nothing to me when I’m at the Stadium because more people talk on their cell phones during the game and that’s what really bothers me.

  • Jersey

    “Debating Freddy”? There is no debate. The man is a legend, while Pete Abe is a fat retard and I don’t even know who Moshe Mandel is, if that’s even his real name.

    • http://WWW.mvn.com/mlb-yankees Moshe Mandel

      If that’s even my real name? Yeah, if I make up a name on the internet, it would be a lot less blatantly…. ethnic. I love when people make unequivocal statements on the internet, like “there is no debate.” People are allowed to disagree with your opinion.

      • Jersey

        I love when people get up on their Internet soapbox to pick on an old man.

  • steve (different one)

    Abraham’s next target will be the guy who plays the flute in the pedestrian overpass:

    “if i hear him play the Woody Woodpecker theme on that flute one more time, i’ll write another column whining how Girardi won’t tell me exactly who is injured or not!!”

    Abraham is good at reporting. his opinions? i could live without them.

  • http://www.impatientsufferance.com mg

    Abraham has been on about Freddy for ages. A few weeks ago he was wondering if Freddy was trying to signal Mars. Still, he’s not wrong. Freddy is really loud and what some enjoy a lot will be annoyed by. Nothing beats the cowbell guy in section 39. He leads the best chant in the bleachers.

  • ceciguante

    freddy rules. the man has commited his life to fandom and he’s simply a fixture in the stadium. anyone who wants to get rid of him just doesn’t understand what it means to be a fan, or loyalty, for that matter. this guy has earned lifetime admission to wherever the yanks play.

    pete abraham wants a moat filled with snakes? i’d personally toss him in instead of freddy. years from now, people will recall tales of old freddie rooting on the yanks, and how they got to whack the pan. no one will care that pete abe was a beat writer for a jersey paper.

    • Jeremy

      New York (Hudson River Valley) paper, actually. Just saying.

      I would like a pit of snakes, but only if we re-sign Farnsworth. For motivation.

  • BillyBall

    Un-f-ing-believable. How can anyone pick on Freddy. He is a nice man and he lets the little kids hit his pan and they get more excited about him than what’s going on on the field. People should be ashamed. This guy loves the Yankees and it appears this is all he is about. It’s his love, and he is more a fan than 75 percent of the people that enter thru the gates to see a game. I take acception to anyone messing with that man and it breaks my heart that we have to even defend him. When he passes they should have a moment of silence and it would be nice if they called his name from the bleachers during a roll call just once!

  • http://www.ymcamustgo.com/ Sean

    The YMCA Must Go: Official Petition

    The Yankees grounds crew YMCA act is old and tired. Let’s start the new Stadium afresh by leaving this worn-out show behind. Sign the petition and let your voice be heard: The YMCA Must Go!

    http://www.ymcamustgo.com/

    • Marsha

      Where do I sign? Can I sign 25 times like voting for the All-Star team?

  • K.V.C

    How can anyone pick on Freddy. He is a nice man and he lets the little kids hit his pan and they get more excited about him than what’s going on on the field.

    HUH?

    I pay money, for tickets and the YES network to see the GAME, not to listen to freddy banging his pan. If the kids aren’t there to watch the GAME, WTF are they there for? The Game is the reason to go, not some guy with a sign and a pan. Leave him in the old stadium.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doug_Chu/15305165 Doug

      Why do you hate the children?

  • Jesse G.

    I love Freddy. I really thought everyone loved him. Certainly all my friends do. When that commercial with Freddy in it came out there was a serious round of calls between all of my Yankee fan friends. Even my girlfriend who hates baseball loves Freddy. I ran into hiim in the 90s on West End Ave a couple of times when I was younger and he was very nice and totally friendly. Long live Freddy!

  • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

    This may sound strange, but hearing Freddy bang the pot from my couch at home somehow gives me a direct connection to the crowd at the Stadium. They obviously don’t air any of the between-innings stuff like the Subway race or the trivia questions, and the bleacher chants don’t always come through well enough to be recognizable. The booth doesn’t acknowledge the crowd or its actions either.

    Long live the pot!

  • alex

    that guy in tampa yelling at all the players is very funny. some might say annoying, but why are you ripping an old man that dosent bother anyone?

  • Jonah

    Personally, the sound of the banging pan is like nails on a chalk board. But, I understand that the man is a harmless institution so I have learned to just ignore it and enjoy the game.

    There are a couple of things at Yankees games however that do need to go…first and foremost, Cotton Eye friggin Joe. There is no reason to be subjected to this terrible and dated song, or a dancing cowboy for that matter. It’s the Bronx, not exactly the typical cowboy hangout.

    The other are the idiots who stand up (especially when nothing is really happening) and yell at everyone around him to stand and cheer, and when you don’t he says things like “What is this, Fenway?” But, when something big happens a few moments later, this dum-dum missed it because he was too busy checking out his blackberry.

  • http://theambershow.blogspot.com amber

    it is so, so not cool to use my photo without asking me first. simple email would have been fine.