baying encouragement is memorable, but it is rivaled in California, if not
eclipsed, by that of a San Francisco superfan named Les Boatwright, another
restaurateur, who is popularly known as Lovely. He is a familiar figure at 49er
games—such a ferocious rooter that he forms an eddy of discontented spectators
around him. Twelve years ago his voice sagged half an octave during a game and
never recovered. Though it was still awesomely powerful, Boatwright saw fit to
back it up with an air horn. Recently Boatwright has conceded that the air horn
is for rooters without class, and he has lowered his decibel potential to that
which emits from an old Model T horn squeezed when the mood strikes him, which
is often. Visually Boatwright presents as startling a figure as he does
vocally, often wearing oversized overalls and a Harpo Marx wig. He usually
carries a homemade sign or two (JAM THE RAMS would be a typical banner for a
Los Angeles game) that he unfurls at appropriate moments, blocking the view of
the people behind him. San Franciscans who arrive at Kezar Stadium to find
themselves in a seat near Boatwright often pack up and go home.
"How was the
game?" they're asked.
it. Went home just before the kickoff."
sitting next to Lovely Boatwright."
When the 49ers
play away, Boatwright's neighbors have been known to take umbrage, and they
lead Boatwright a lively life. His banners are in shreds by the end of a game,
his Harpo Marx wig is askew and his voice begins to flag as he shouts back
jibes across the wall of debris that has grown up around him. But even in the
enemy camp Boatwright prefers to be up in the stands. Some years ago, in
Detroit, the late Vic Morabito, the 49er owner, ran into Boatwright in the
hotel elevator and invited him to sit in the owner's box.
Mattered, but he said: "Vic, I've come more than 2,000 miles with my air
horn, this big sign and two jugs, and I don't think the owner's box is the
place to put them to use."
In New York a
number of superfans own restaurants—Toots Shor, of course, Joe Allen of
Allen's, Danny Lavezzo of P. J. Clarke's and Mike Manuche, who owns a
restaurant in the West 50s. Manuche's case is interesting. Four years ago he
acquired the status of a talisman. He had turned up at a Giants' practice on
Thursday afternoon, then the following Thursday and the Thursday after, and
someone noted that on each of the following weekends the Giants won their game.
The winning streak was equated with his appearance at practice, and the Giants,
who like so many athletes are a superstitious lot, began to expect Manuche to
turn up on Thursday to help insure victory the Sunday following.
his role rigorously: he was on hand every Thursday, he often went to team
meetings, he traveled with the team, and as time passed and the winning streaks
went on through the championship years he evolved a carefully worked-out system
of custom and procedure that he adhered to in order to keep the winning streaks
alive. He wore certain clothes (on one occasion a battered though lucky pair of
underpants got thrown out by his mother-in-law and was retrieved from a garbage
pail just as a disposal truck was coming up his Scarsdale, N.Y. street) and ate
certain foods during the week.