What a game today to start the season! There is nothing like Opening Day at Nationals Park and especially when it is combined with a win. On Opening Day, the fans wear their Sunday best Nats apparel and enjoy their shared love of the Washington Nationals.
There are many Senators fans from the 1930’s until the final pitch in 1971 who have continued as Nats fans today. None stands out more than Nationals principal owner Ted Lerner and the “Chicken Man” Hugh Kaufman who is a fan seen more times on TV than any other because Kaufman sits in the first row over the dugout and is known by Dusty Baker and all the players. Kaufman has his rubber chicken prop, makes matzoh ball chicken soup for ailing players, and holds up great signs and is probably subliminally engrained in the back of your memory.
There were no fans who stood out in RFK Stadium back then like Chief Zee did for the Redskins. Zema Williams who passed away last year had become Chief Zee back when he was a young man and turned himself into the Redskins unofficial mascot as there was no Screech or Racing Presidents back when Chief Zee was strutting his stuff back in the 1970’s at RFK Stadium. Williams became a celebrity as Chief Zee earning spots on commercials and paid appearances. Kaufman won’t accept paid endorsements, but he enjoys showing up at fan events and charity events as he is more of a philanthropist. Players like Gio Gonzalez consider Kaufman a good luck charm, and Kaufman even sacrificed a rubber chicken with Gio to stop a losing streak and it worked.
Today, there are a few Nats fans who get weekly cameos like Luis Albisu, Tripp Whitbeck, and Hugh Kaufman. There was also those ESPN moments when Michele S. was shown on TV holding up her Nats signs at CitiField on the Sunday Night Game. There is a new fan app that will enhance their fandom and help other fans spread the word more efficiently when they show up on TV.
Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) has teamed up with Brett Joshpe’s company, 15 Seconds of Fame, a breakthrough technology and social media platform, to deliver video content never before available to fans: your appearances on live baseball game telecasts.
Nationals fans who appear on MASN and national TV broadcasts while at a game this season will now get their video clip sent directly to their phones using a new app and social media platform called 15 Seconds of Fame (@15SOF). The fan that makes a great one-handed catch on a foul ball or the dad that catches a home run while holding his baby — they will get that clip on their mobile device as soon as the game ends. In the case of Albisu, it could be making a great catch on a foul ball. For Hugh Kaufman, he might want that photo as he holds up a congratulatory sign, for Whitbeck, it could be that image as he struts his stuff as the Mayor of Natstown as he is known, and for Michele S., it could be holding up a Nats sign at a road game.
Once fans have the TV clip, they can then share it instantly across their social networks and keep it forever. All fans have to do to is download the app, take a “selfie” and check in to the game they are attending. 15SOF’s technology picks them out of the crowd, clips the HD video and sends it to them seamlessly. And it’s completely free on iTunes or Google Play.
“I think baseball is so great for what we do at 15 Seconds of Fame,” Joshpe said. “What we do is certainly relevant across the board in sports, but in baseball, I think with its family tradition, and the fact that you do have the field of play extending into the stands so often, I just think it’s very conducive to what we do. We think the nostalgic aspect of what we do is really profound for fans to be able to capture and preserve.”
“I think it’s cool technology and that it’ll be fun to see what shows up,” Luis Albisu said. “I sit in section 134 row A in foul ball territory.”
The Mayor of Natstown was on WUSA9 this morning as he stood in line to get into the stadium and was on TV again as the cameras panned the stands.
“Why ‘The Mayor’? A beer vendor (Jojo Eggleston) gave me that [nickname] in 2010,” Tripp Whitbeck told us. “We were in the midst of our second 100-loss season. I was – quite literally – the only guy in Section 135. He said, ‘Hey, man – You’re like the Mayor of this section!’ After a couple of games, it morphed from the Mayor of 135 to the Mayor of Nats Park to the Mayor of NatsTown (where it stands today).”
Nats fans are certainly showing up at Spring Training and at Nats Park, but the next level of fandom is heading out on the road with a large group and showing your team support in hostile territory. The Mets fan group known as the 7 Line Army plans several road trips this year and already planning a Nats Park takeover. Talk Nats has a group led by Andrew Ross (Draz) as we are headed to CitiField in June and that was inspired by the Half St. Irregulars group that Michele S. traveled with last year to New York.
“We had a wonderful experience on our trip to New York,” Michele said. “I went up for the weekend and even though we didn’t win I had a blast. It was good to know that the Nats players heard us and recognized that we were there.”
Think of the fun Michele and others would have had last year and in prior years with 15 Seconds of Fame app.
“From diehards who attend every game to families who make an annual pilgrimage to the ballpark, a live baseball game is a truly special experience,” Brett Joshpe the CEO of 15 Seconds of Fame told us. “And if you’re a fan who appears on TV, that’s a life memory that you want to capture, share, and preserve. We look forward to helping Nationals fans share these memories.”