Marlins Man already a presence at World Series

NEW YORK -- It's nearly midnight when Laurence Leavy makes his exit from his choice seat at Game 3 of the World Series and comes into the tunnel where a throng of media is waiting to talk to the players.

But it's Leavy who seems to be the most popular guy in the bowels of Citi Field. Over the course of 30 minutes, Leavy has taken no less than 25 pictures, including two with Houston Astros phenom Carlos Correa. Correa asked him questions, not the other way around.

"What's your deal, man?" Correa asks. "You are everywhere. You just like baseball or what?"

Leavy is easy to recognize because he is Marlins Man. He's been in the bright orange Miami Marlins jersey at nearly every important American sporting event since 2012. For at least a decade before that, he was somewhat less recognizable as his costume consisted of the team's original white jersey with teal pinstripes.

Unlike famous fans in sports, like Jack Nicholson at Lakers games or Spike Lee at Knicks games, Leavy is at every game. Well, almost.

He said Friday night was his 92nd World Series game. In addition, he said he's been to more than 70 NBA Finals games and was at all three legs of horse racing's Triple Crown this year. He's not hard to find, jumping up and down in almost every photo that has American Pharoah crossing the finish line at the Preakness.

Leavy is a wealthy, single man with no wife or children. His Florida law firm that he runs from the road has 47 employees. The firm is outside counsel for workers compensation cases for two massive companies, which he said he would rather not disclose.

Leavy said the money spends on his seats isn't relevant to his story. He doesn't keep track, he insists. But simply looking at Leavy's schedule -- he went to 149 Major League Baseball regular-season games this year, including every ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game -- it's fair to say his seats would have cost north of $300,000 on the secondary market.

He admits it would be easier if he had a private jet with his face on it, but he doesn't because of one scary day in the sky. Twenty-five years ago, he owned a Cessna and his pilot had a hard time navigating through a storm. Never again would he set foot on a plane that size.

A typical day for Leavy is flying to a city, doing five hours of work by filing briefs or reading over material. His job is almost entirely mobile because he says only 1 percent of his cases actually go to trial where he needs to show up in court. When he's done, he heads out to the ballpark usually four hours before first pitch, with five fully-charged phone batteries in his pocket, so that he never loses power.

At the ballpark, he walks through parking lots, waits until someone recognizes him and takes a picture. It's fathers, daughters, sons -- people of all ages -- who want to take a picture with him. At Game 3 of the World Series in New York, he took about 400 pictures.

It's not all about him, though. Leavy likes to connect people who don't have tickets; In a Johnny Appleseed type of way, he buys a block of tickets and puts them together at the game.

"I used to visit St. Louis and go to the [Gateway] Arch," Leavy said. "Now I have 15 friends to see when I'm there."

Leavy recently donated $10,000 to the families of two Kansas City firefighters killed in the line of duty. He donated thousands of dollars more to the V Foundation, while winning five auctions to have unique experiences, one that includes being in the pace car at Sunday's New York Marathon.

After he's done with pictures, Leavy goes to the bathroom, buys some food and gets to his seat, usually before the top of the second inning. It's never consistent, but it's always behind home plate and you always know when he's there -- he's the only guy in bright orange. In fact, he's been so much a part of the baseball experience that Sony put him in the crowd in the video game "MLB: The Show."

Leavy had always gone to a lot of games, but never at the pace he has put himself on since March. That's when an initial diagnosis of liver cancer with six to eight months to live got his attention. On a second reading, it turned out to be a mass of scar tissue, but the 59-year-old lawyer wasn't looking back. He was going to enjoy life.

If you're wondering, he really does like the Marlins. Though somehow, he says, they don't really care for him. He has asked to throw out the first pitch. No dice. A Marlins Man day, his friend already mocked up the bobbleheads, also fell on deaf ears.

He supplies his own clothing. Leavy bought all six orange Marlins jerseys he rotates and auctions a couple off each year for charity. Last year, Make-A-Wish raised more than $5,000 in an auction for his outfit with his World Series ticket stubs. The hardest part of the get-up is the Marlins visor, which he says they don't make any more.

"Don't worry," Leavy laughs. "I bought about 300."

He has been approached by other owners, to switch teams, something he says he won't do. Leavy also won't put any corporate logos on him; he doesn't sit where he does to make money.

Leavy never imagined that he would be in this position -- that when kids go trick-or-treating or when adults go to Halloween parties that some will be dressed as him. He knows; they've tagged him on Facebook.

Hundreds of people?

"Thousands," Leavy says.

At this time last year, he had 175 followers on Twitter. Today? More than 50,000.

Despite the rough travel schedule -- he has been at a sporting event on 99 percent of the days since April -- he doesn't seem tired.

At 12:45 a.m., when he exits Citi Field after Game 3, he is approached by a couple of workers to take selfies. Before he leaves, he makes sure his next big appearance after the World Series is known.

It's Nov. 19 for Thursday Night Football with the Tennessee Titans playing at Jacksonville. He rented the cabana and pool area inside the stadium.

Said Leavy: "I have a Marlins Man wet suit ready."