KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- That guy wearing the Marlins jersey behind the plate at the World Series? He doesn't just wear it to the games. I was riding in the shuttle to the rental car lot at Kansas City’s airport Monday night when I looked to my right and saw him sitting one passenger over . . . and yep, wearing his Marlins apparel among several fans in Royals and Giants gear.
His name is Laurence Leavy and he’s a Miami lawyer specializing in workers' compensation. He’s a Marlins season-ticket holder and such an enormous fan that he drives a car specially painted in vibrant Marlins colors with a Billy the Marlin logo.
Leavy became a social media sensation last week at Games 1 and 2 while sitting behind home plate in his Marlins orange in the middle of a sea of Royals blue. He says people come up to him asking for photos. Parents tell him their children want to dress up as him for Halloween. He says followers to his @Marlins_Man Twitter account soared from 175 -- mostly his friends -- to more than 13,000.
“It’s an accidental thing. It will be over in a week,” Leavy said of the attention. “You know the phrase: ‘Your 15 minutes of fame?’ It will be over and I’ll be happy. I had people writing me letters, saying, ‘I’m so-and-so’s agent and we can sign you up and make this really big.’ I had marketing guys call, and I’m like, ‘Guys, I don’t want that.’ I just want to go games and have fun.
“That’s the good part of this story. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs. My addiction is sporting events.”
Is it ever. Leavy attends sporting events all year round, all over the country. He has seen dozens of World Series games and says he has attended every possible event he’s wanted to see . . . although he does still regret trading his ticket to the 1980 Olympic hockey game between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to go see bobsledding instead that day.
How much does he spend on tickets?
“A lot. It varies from year to year, but I spend a lot. A lot,” Leavy said. “I saved up to, like, buy a house and have a wife and kids, and it just never happened. So I decided a while ago to just go out and make myself happy. I said, ‘Why don’t you go out and see in person these games? Why don’t you just go to the Yankees-Red Sox game? Why don’t you go to the Dodgers-Cubs? Why don’t you just go do this stuff?’
“So I did it. I wasn’t trying to be discovered. I went to the Yankees game three years ago in the playoffs and I was the only one wearing orange in the entire stadium. And I wasn’t discovered.”
He was this time.
Naturally, this World Series will not be the end of his sports odyssey.
Cam Newton sent Leavy a text message inviting him to the Carolina Panthers game on Thursday. Not that he’ll necessarily go to that game because someone else asked him to sit courtside at the Cleveland Cavaliers season opener the same night. And Florida State invited him to go to their game against Louisville that night as well.
Leavy still wasn’t sure which he would pick, but to find out his choice, tune in and look for him in the crowd. He’ll be the one wearing orange.