Super Fan | Stacey Samuels is propelled by his love of the sport.
Longtime Berkeley entrepreneur Stacey Samuels (a.k.a. "Super A" and "Super Niner") can be seen at the Coliseum and Candlestick, wearing a propeller-driven baseball cap and rainbow cape, strumming his banjo through the aisles. Hippie freak? Absolutelybut a shrewd entrepreneur lies under the smoky haze. Samuels has sold over 1.5 million of his propeller hats worldwideenough to send his four children through college and buy a house in Marin. Wavy Gravy wore Samuelss very first propeller cap at an As game in 1976. Impressed by the overwhelmingly positive response, Samuels began hawking the caps undercover at games. After adding the cape and banjo, Samuels was tapped by the Warriors to perform at their home games for one season in 1980. Since then hes cheered the As and the Niners with little more than a free pass to games. I tracked down Samuels recently to see if any of his unbridled enthusiasm would rub off on me.
Paul Kilduff: You became an As fan when the Giants broke your heart by trading away Willie Mays?
Stacey Samuels: That was so wrong, but it was really when they fired Lon Simmonsthats when I really stopped listening to Giants games. I didnt become a total anti-Giants person until the As started playing really good. And then in 1980, who comes to be the As announcer? Lon Simmons. He was for the next 15 years, and it was with KSFO. It was just like being a kid again.
PK: Youre also "Super Niner."
SS: I grew up with the Niners and I never turn my back on them.
PK: Would you ever want to do your act at a Raider game? Would you be welcome?
SS: No. Theyre the enemy. Its not so much that I dislike the Raiders. I used to root for them when they had Jim Plunkett and Kenny Stabler. They were a fun team. The biggest cheer at a Raider game is when they announce the losing score from the Niner game. Ive had my car vandalized by Raider fans.
PK: As a Raider fan Id like to apologize for all the hooliganism of my fellow brethrenthey know better.
SS: Actually, the crowd out there is amazing. All these years Ive been pretty much the only guy in much of a costume at the Niner games. But at the Raiders games its like 200 people dressed as these weird things.
PK: The knock on the Niner fan is that its the white wine, carrot cake crowd. True?
SS: I think its a stereotypelike people from the Midwest are dull; people in New York are unfriendly. Its just the opposite. Thats true about Niner fans. The Niner fans can get loud.
PK: But are they as colorful as Raider fans? Its not Mardi Gras at Candlestick on Sunday.
SS: Its not. But that doesnt mean theyre not passionate. I definitely stick up for the 49er crowd.
PK: You get a free pass to games?
SS: I got a free pass to all Niner games for the last 17 years. And the As gave me a pass for like five years and then last year they stopped giving me one. Im kind of under-appreciated by their management. They tolerate me. They have given me permission to walk through the stands.
PK: But youve got to pay to do this?
SS: I dont want to hard-line, but its a shame. Believe it or not, they used to pay Crazy George $1,000 a game. That was 25 years ago.
PK: Just imagine what Crazy Georges fee is today. It boggles the mind.
SS: This is the thing about Crazy George: hes the mercenary cheerleader. He invented the wave. He used to get behind home plate and have everybody wave their hands and whistle. But hes never been to an As game since because they didnt pay him. I wish I couldve accomplished that. This is my 21st year playing the banjo [at As games]. People know me from generations now. And the ironic thing is most of them call me Crazy George.
PK: Have you invented any cheers?
SS: Well I guess . . . Slaughter the Indians. Split the Twins.
PK: You yell stuff like that?
SS: Well you know, Im just being historically accurate. Ethnic cleansing of the Indians. Whatever you want to say.
PK: Have to work hard sometimes to get the crowd going?
SS: Even our sportscasters would complain when they would put up on the scoreboard, "Make some noise!" People are sheep. I dont think theres anything wrong with cheerleaders. Thats how I got my start. The Warriors paid me $25 a game in 1980.
PK: Ever get sentimental for the old days?
SS: I loved the late 70sthats when I became an As fan. We used to sit in the third row behind the dugout and smoke two joints and it was always great. Then after a few years I started selling beanie caps instead of just sitting there.
PK: You were undercover?
SS: Not an official vendor. But a lot of stuff was tolerated back then. But the Haas family took over and it all changed.
PK: You wear a propeller beanie cap every day?
SS: Its a great hat. Guaranteed to keep you warm, get you high, and keep you cool all at the same time. Its great for meeting people. Women come up to you and want to blow on your propeller. How often does that happen?
PK: Yet, youve managed to stay married.
SS: Its kind of a baseball widow situation. Ive cut down now. There are only eight Niner games.
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