6 Superfans Whose Fandom Crossed The Line Into Madness
If the internet has showed us one thing, well, it's porn. But if it's showed us a second thing, it's that there's a fine line between a healthy hobby and an obsession that consumes your every waking moment to the detriment of your own soul. Judge for yourselves where the following superfans have landed.
The Man With More Than 10,000 Baseballs
There are few things in sports more obnoxious than ballhawks, the people you see on the news wrestling home run balls away from children. And none among their ranks has earned as much public ire as professional collector Zack Hample.
Hample, by his own count, has collected over 10,000 baseballs from 55 stadiums. He's often the first to show up to batting practice so he can run around snagging balls the entire time, to the annoyance of fellow fans. He's written books on the subject, offers tips on his YouTube channel, has made all sorts of TV appearances, will personally help you catch a ball at a game (if you have $1,000 to spare), and has even assembled a goofy contraption to pull practice balls off the field, which is arguably leaving the realm of collecting and entering the world of petty theft.
He's also had spats with players, been criticized for muscling kids out of his way, and been banned from three stadiums due to his aggressive antics. But he's probably most infamous for snatching Alex Rodriguez's 3,000th hit. He initially refused to give the milestone ball back, planning to make it the centerpiece of his private collection before maybe auctioning it off. But after a social media hate storm, he agreed to surrender it to the Yankees in exchange for a $150,000 donation to a youth baseball charity.
In Hample's defense, he has done a lot of charitable work. But he also once weaseled his way into a game at Fort Bragg reserved for members of the armed forces and their families. Hample claimed he got the ticket from a friend, while other, non-Hample sources said that he bought the ticket on Tinder for $1,000. After issuing a standard "I'm sorry you were offended" apology, Hample donated $100 for every ball he caught at the game to a veteran's charity.
Related: Baseball Is Dead. Again.
One Man Has Visited Nearly 15,000 Starbucks
As a primary source of nutrition for the terminally basic, Starbucks has built an empire of over 27,000 locations. And a man known only as "Winter" has made it his mission to visit each and every last provider of overpriced sugary monstrosities.
Winter, a computer programmer, made his vow in 1997, when the existence of only 1,500 stores made it a difficult but feasible quest. But time waits for no man, and now Winter surely has no hope of visiting every possible- oh dear god, he's already hit 14,964 of them across dozens of countries? And he's provided obsessive photographic documentation? And he's spent around 168,000 goddamn dollars in the process?
Sure, some people would spend $168,000 on trivial material goods, like a home. But Winter doesn't have a permanent residence, preferring to live on the road like a caffeine ronin. The Starbucks are to some extent just an excuse for endless world travel, but Winter also really, really likes coffee, having documented stops at an additional 1000 indie coffee shops and once drinking 29 cups in a single day that left him feeling "awful." And one day Winter will weep, for there will be no more Starbucks left to conquer. And because he'll have to pee really badly throughout his entire heart attack.
An Old Man Uses 21 Phones To Play Pokemon Go
You may remember this man going viral in 2018 for looking like a Johnny Mnemonic extra.
That's 70-year-old Chen San-yuan rocking 11 phones, along with enough charging cables and external batteries to give each one a crisp 20-hour lifespan. And they're all running Pokemon Go, a game where ... where players don't really benefit from having 11 phones on the go at once. But Chen does Chen. Of course, after his initial fame faded, the novelty wore off, and Chen no doubt returned to a quiet life of ... oh, he added another 10 phones in early 2019.
A typical month costs Chen over $1,000 of in-app purchases and additions to his phone bank, but the retiree considers it worth the price to get some exercise, make some friends, and stave off Alzheimer's. Adorably, he rarely participates in gym battles, because like a great warrior of old, he knows his own strength and doesn't want to crush innocent casuals.
He's even become a bit of a local celebrity, and tourists searching him out are impressed by his muscle memory. This is all after being introduced to the game by his grandson, who is no doubt desperately trying to prevent him from learning about that new Harry Potter mobile game.
The Man Who Has Collected Almost Everything David Letterman Has Ever Made
When David Letterman retired from late-night television, Don Giller must have been both heartbroken and relieved. He had recorded and archived all but two of Letterman's 6,028 Late Night and Late Show episodes, and has become such a source of Letterman knowledge that fans, journalists, and even the show's staff routinely turned to him for help, hopefully after confirming that his collection did not also contain hair and urine samples.
Giller got into the habit of taping notable broadcasts, like the Academy Awards and presidential inaugurations. But it was Letterman that launched an obsession. He watched Late Night from Day 1, being perhaps the only person to both remember and enjoy Letterman's short-lived morning show, and soon he was making recordings, taking notes, and eventually putting unique clips up on YouTube to acquire over 47 million views.
So if you need to know the name of the audience member who audibly coughed on September 14, 1985, Don Giller is your man. His apartment is stuffed floor to ceiling with Letterman tapes, and he gained such a reputation as "Donz the superfan" that he was the punchline to a Letterman Top 10 bit on signs that you spend too much time online.
While Giller's obsession might have worried Letterman (if Letterman hadn't been busy dealing with more ... physical stalkers), his work does serve a valuable purpose, as late-night shows tend to be poorly archived compared to scripted television. And Giller has a sense of perspective about his hobby, joking that with Letterman retired, he could finally start dating again. Maybe don't invite anyone back to that apartment on the first date.
Sports Fans Keep Getting Terrible Tattoos To Prove Their Loyalty
On the day Mauricio dos Anjos is fated to stand naked before his maker, God will know that he's a Flamengo supporter.
Dos Anjos tattooed his beloved Brazilian soccer team's jersey onto his body -- a feat that required 90 hours over 32 sessions. But he got a good deal. Dos Anjos initially only paid to have his upper torso inked, but, impressed by his dedication, the artist did the rest for free. And at least it looks professionally done, which arguably can't be said for Felipe Alvarez, who inscribed an Atletico Nacional jersey onto his mortal flesh.
But at least it's meant as a tribute to beloved Colombian player Andres Escobar, who was murdered after accidentally scoring a decisive own goal at the 1994 World Cup. An athlete who doesn't need even more honoring is Michael Jordan, which didn't stop a Dominican man known only as @Kon3Viga from commissioning this regrettable masterpiece:
And on top we can see the logo of the Raiders. Who are now moving to Las Vegas. And have been absolute garbage for 17 years and counting.
But the perfect storm of terrible sports tattoos belongs to Jeremy Gentry, who combined shoddy quality, unfortunate placement, and regrettable blind faith into one unforgettable disaster. Before the start of the 2016 NFL season, Gentry got a presumptuous Philadelphia Eagles championship tat on his neck.
Quite ambitious, considering that the Eagles finished the previous season at 7-9. The Hollywood miracle predicted by Gentry and literally no one else did not transpire, and the Eagles finished the '16 season with an identical 7-9 record. At least it must have been pretty easy to turn that 6 into an 8 when they finally won in 2018.
The Man Literally Living In The World Of Friends
Friends, aka White People: The Show, has a universal appeal among people not smart enough to get Frasier. We've told you before that its worldwide following includes an obsessive Chinese fandom, with the crown jewel being an exact replica of Central Perk in Beijing. But what about the man who runs the cafe? Could what is likely the world's biggest Friends fan be any more in love with the show? Probably not, considering that he's transformed his entire life into one long sitcom episode.
Yes, he lives in a copy of Joey and Chandler's apartment. Oh, and he's legally changed his name from Du Xin to "Gunther," which is a little sad, considering that he could have gone with literally any other character. Aim high, buddy.
Then again, he did manage to marry a woman named Rachel, raise a son named Joey, and own a cat named Smelly Cat, so he must be doing something right. As a reminder, (show) Gunther had an unrequited crush on (show) Rachel, so that's either one tolerant woman or two people acting out an extremely specific fetish. He also collects memorabilia associated with the characters, like the Lionel Richie album that Chandler sings to Janice and the knife Phoebe uses in the one that isn't legally allowed to air anymore.
This whimsical madness began when DoppleGunther got his ass dumped. A (now likely regretful) friend suggested that he get over his love life being DOA by watching the show, and he took to it with a religious fervor, stating, "I try to persuade more people to watch Friends just like persuading a lot of people to believe in some kind of religion. These six people spent 10 years [teaching] you how to love." Yes, pop culture fandom has reached the point where people are proselytizing on behalf of '90s sitcoms. We anxiously await the day when Friends fans launch a crusade to reclaim the holy land of New York City from the people who can't stop quoting Seinfeld.
For more, check out The Terrible Truth 'Star Wars' Fans Can't Admit:
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