There is one question that I know both Courtland and I discussed last season, and perhaps even the season before. Nearly every time we went to a Twins game together, we sat in the outfield seats, aka Homerun Porch. Anyone who has ever sat in these seats, particularly those closest to centerfield, has no doubt seen Helmet Guy. Our ingenious name for the guy came from his ever present white helmet, which has the Twins logo on the front and Torii Hunter's number on the back. Up until today, I had completely forgotten about the question that Court and I had posed to eachother during a game last spring - What will Helmet Guy do if Torii leaves this offseason?
Well, Torii is gone, and Helmet Guy now needs to figure out his next move.
First a bit of background.
Court and I nearly always discussed Helmet Guy at some point during a game. He was always there when we got to the game, no matter HOW early we arrived at the Dome. This led us to postulate whether he lives at the stadium or not (we decided he lives behind the CF fence). We were delighted one day, when Helmet Guy was in his usual seat wearing a customized jersey. On the back was the number 13 and the name Waldo. While we now knew his name, he still remained Helmet Guy to us. Another game, obviously playing off of his Waldo moniker, he wore a t-shirt to the game that asked "Where's Waldo?" It subsequently had his section, row, and seat number. While I don't remember exactly, I'm pretty sure it was about Section 102, Row 2, Seat 2. This obviously led us to despise Waldo's obvious narcissism.
However, it is one game in particular that stands out for me in my mind as to Helmet Guy's true character. True fans in the outfield bleachers realize that a beach ball in the stands is part of the experience. Court and I always laugh when a security guard can't get the ball, or a dumb fan punches the ball onto the field (ok, that part is annoying), or when a new ball starts right after another one is popped (which also should draw numerous boo's). However, in this game, Helmet Guy felt it was his personal duty to grab the ball and hand it to the security guard. He made an effort to go and get the ball to help the security guards. Helmet Guy has a FRONT ROW SEAT! He has no reason to be upset by what is going on behind him. His view isn't getting blocked! The ball is affecting him in no way at all. Yet, he still decided that he must track down the ball to give it to the security guard. Helmet Guy lost some of his cool the day he did that.
However, Helmet Guy still retained his mystique in my eyes. Seeing as both Court and I are college students, and are both out of the Metro area, neither of us can get to games on a regular basis until the summer. This results in a lot of FSN North for me, and a lot of Yahoo! box score checking for Courtland since he doesn't get the Twins games. While the games were almost always entertaining in themselves, with Bert and Dick ready to spout out some dumb new quote, or Johan mowing down the opposition, it was always an added bonus when a ground rule double was hit towards centerfield. EVERY SINGLE TIME this happened, there was Helmet Guy, reaching into the empty space behind the wall trying to catch the ball. I always cheered when this happened, regardless of who hit the double. Most times, I found myself calling Courtland to tell him that I had just seen our friend Helmet Guy on TV. One time I even recall Bert discussing Waldo by name, and FSN had a shot of him for about 5 seconds. So, as you can see, I have some unusual obsession with the guy (or so my girlfriend jokes with me about). I just think its cool that the Twins have a fan that can be immediately pointed out when a game is on TV, but I guess that something is wrong with me.
Anyway, back to my original point. I wondered what Helmet Guy would be doing this season. I stumbled upon this article following a google search of "metrodome minnesota twins waldo." I found out that Waldo is actually a guy named Greg Dryden and he hasn't missed a game in 3 years. In the article, Torii says that he personally recognizes Waldo as his biggest fan, and that Torii will also miss having Waldo behind him in the stands. It also turns out that "Waldo" is a name that Bert's wife came up with for Dryden. In addition, in 2005 Dryden caught 352 batting practice and game balls from his seat.
As one can deduce from article, Waldo missing Torii won't be a one way street. However, the biggest sentence out of the article for answering my question was this:
He said he will continue coming to every game, even if Hunter leaves, but it won't be the same.Well, part of the question is answered, in that Helmet Guy will still be a presence in his seat every single game. However, I am still curious as to what happens to his helmet now. Does he remove Torii's number and not replace it? Does he put the new CF's number? Does he put Delmon Young's 21 onto his helmet? All are options, but I think the most likely choice for Helmet Guy is to keep Torii's 48 on the back of the helmet as a memento to Hunter and his years with the team.
While I won't be able to make it to a game until May, I am hoping for a ground rule double to centerfield Opening Day. Helmet Guy will be there, cheering on Torii Hunter, in a much different way than last season. And maybe, just maybe, I'll catch whats on the back of his helmet.
look at 1:06, and Helmet Guy is getting out of his seat at the bottom left of the video