December 29, 2008
Many sports cities have individuals who stand out amongst others as true characters of their supported franchise. Here in New York, there's "Cowbell Man" for the New York Mets, "Freddy Sez" for the Yankees and (video) "Dancin' Larry" for the New York Rangers.
Moondog is a local legend in Wheeling. He's a citizen who is known for riding his bike while wearing a bright, orange vest (sometimes a sport coat and tie); and while he may appear to be homeless, rest assured, he pays rent via a Social Security check.
He also just so happens to have a team-sponsored bobblehead doll.
Two of them, in fact.
Moondog isn't as complex a guy as many might assume, as The State Journal tells us:
"He looks homeless, but he's not," Wheeling's fire chief Steve Johnston explained. "People may think he's a bad person, but he's not a bad person. He looks the way he looks because that's the way he wants to look.
"His appearance allows people to think that he's living on the streets or that he's not mentally well. It's hard to explain Charles -- he's not a genius who has decided to live this kind of life, but he's also not helpless either. He does what he does because that's what he wants to do, and you see what you see because that's what he wants you to see. His bike tells a lot of his story."
Moon Dog sightings usually take place at fire and accident scenes in all sections of Wheeling. His mode of transportation is a two-wheeler decorated with several flags flown from the rear using long, plastic masts. The cycle serves as the primary prop utilized when Waldrum wishes to transform into his Moon Dog cartoon character."
Aside from having his own bobble head night, Moondog also has his own Myspace page, where "he" lists Lance Armstrong as one of "his" heroes.
Bikin' aint' easy.
The Nailers had their first Moondog bobble head night last March and according to Puck Daddy reader Tom Smith, the wait in line to grab one was up to six hours long and the guest of honor was given a new bicycle by the team:
Moondog was on hand at the WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, and fans indicated that his presence at other games could help boost the team's sagging attendance.
In the end, it's a Moondog world, and we're just living in it.