Meet Lionel Rodia. He’s either A) the luckiest fan in America or B) the country’s most convincing liar. How do we know? Because, depending on whether or not you believe his story, he actually snuck down to a seat near the field for the conclusion of the Phillies’ clinching Game 5 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park, then ran on the field, got in on the dogpile and, eventually, sprayed champagne all over players like Jamie Moyer and Ryan Howard.
(That’s either Rodia in the locker room or the work of a Photoshop master.)
Sure, it seems like a stretch, but Rodia’s story — and at least a couple supporting photos — are convincing enough that
SPORTS ILLUTRATED ESPN columnist Rick Reilly wrote a classic 800-word piece on his escapades, which include this ultimate punchline: The man didn’t even pay for his World Series ticket.
In fairness, it does sound like the ultimate fan experience couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. According to Reilly’s story — and to Rodia’s best friend, one Tom “Tush” Millison (of course his name is Tush) — Rodia had been laid off from his job at a staffing company the prior year, and was bumming his way into games and events with some aplomb. So his World Series adventure wasn’t unprecendented. It was just impressive.
Rodia’s phsyique didn’t hurt the credibility in his story, either. According to Reilly’s story, he’s a solid 5-foot-8 and 240 pounds, which is approximately a mini-Matt Stairs. That makes him a perfectly believable bullpen catcher or coach, particularly with his playoff beard grown all the way out, blurring any more distinctive features that might have given him away.
And then there’s his persistence.
“I’ve never been to a (Bruce) Springsteen concert with him where he didn’t say, ‘Follow me,’ and we didn’t end up in the front row,” Millison said.
Hey, if he can pull it off at a Boss show, why not a World Series game? Seems plausible to us. And you know what? We want to believe it is. It almost makes it possible for the rest of us, which just means one thing: Take note Arizona and Pittsburgh fans. If you go get an official uniform, this could be you tomorrow.
Oh, and one more thing: Lionel, you need to start a blog, as Ricky Treon points out. We would read that thing religiously.