Hell in the Hall – Louisville Sports Blog

Dedicated to the joyful noise of the Card faithful

Card Fan Hall of Fame

The Card Fan Hall of Fame recognizes those fans who for years have vividly shown their love for the Cards for all of us to see.

They are a key part of the Card “family.” They seem to be always there, and no game would be truly complete without them, and the colorful exclamation points to each game that they provide.

We know them all well — but do we REALLY know them?

I decided to personally interview each of these SuperFans, so that we all would come to know and appreciate them even more.

In no particular order, these are the current Hall of Fame fans:

The Handstand Guy aka Sedat

The Cheerleader aka Rob Hickerson

Boogie Man aka Scott Spicer

The Referee Shirt Waver aka Stu Grossman (to be interviewed)

The Runner (or Cha Cha Guy) aka Jeff Blume (to be interviewed)

And in football: Patrick Hughes (to be interviewed)

All of these will be done in the future seasons.

If anyone wants to nominate any other candidates that I have overlooked, please email me at Frankpos@HellintheHall.com.

***********************************************************************

The Card Fan HOF’s first inductee:

Sedat Acton.

Interview: The Handstand Guy aka Sedat

Posted in Louisville Basketball on March 1, 2008 by frankpos

“If you show them true love,

they want to perform better. “

Sedat, life-long gymnast, showman, and Card fan since 1968.

******************************************

I wanted to go and personally meet a man that does handstands during big ball games on stadium railings 20′ in the air….with a concrete floor as his safety net.

Yes, I wanted to personally meet and talk with such a man.

For over 20 years now, I have watched an older man in the section next to mine emerge suddenly and confidently from the stands, limp stiffly toward the stadium railing, and slowly but steadily raise his body into a handstand–and then L it off to the side!

He only does it rarely, but it drives the crowd freakin’ nuts.

As it damn well should, since it’s a feat of near super-human strength and daring for a man of any age, much less one turning…64!

Sadly, Card fans, we may have just witnessed his last performance at the Hall — or for U of L ….

****************************************************************************

sedat-1_edited.jpg

Our section calls him the Handstand Guy. His real name is Sedat Acton.

Sedat was kind enough to meet with me for an interview at the up-scale hair salon named appropriately, Sedat’s Salon, that he runs with his wife of over 30 years, Teresa, next to Equus restaurant near Trinity. They have three children.

I expected a rugged, out-going bear of a man. I met a soft-spoken, elegant man of quiet confidence. And, indeed I found the great strength I expected.

Yes… indeed I did.

Frank: Sir, for over 20 years I’ve watched you do a handstand on the 2nd floor railing to excite the crowd in Freedom Hall. I’ve often wondered how you even thought about doing that the first time.

Sedat: I am a trained gymnast. I did half-time and other shows at University of Louisville or Kentucky Colonel games since I came to the United States to be with my sister in 1968. (Shows me an old picture of himself in the 70’s at a Colonels’ game, doing a handstand on chairs, with another female gymnast wrapped around his waist. In the pic, his hair is pitch black and long, well, 70’s hair.)
Frank: Gosh, looking at this picture–I can see you now in my mind doing that routine. I went to most of the Colonel’s games.

Sedat: Yes, I knew all the players. I met a lot of the UK players too. . Dan Issel, Mike Pratt, Jimmy Dan Connor–they all used to say: “Sedat, why don’t you perform for the UK fans, like you do for the University of Louisville. ” I would say, no, no. We used to laugh. You know they were just kidding. Later, I cut the hair of some of them, too.

Frank: When was the first time you did the handstand on the railing 20′ up?

Sedat: I think in 1975. You know, I only do it at certain times. Only in the second half and only when the crowd really needs an oomph (motions upward quickly with his fist) .

Frank: So, you pick your spot–like a showman?

Sedat (smiling): Yes. You can not do it often. Then it means nothing.

Frank: Why did you become a gymnast.

Sedat: Because I saw gymnasts on the beach when I grew up in Turkey, and they looked like they were strong and could do anything. When I was 3 years old, I got polio in my leg. The leg became small and weak. The brace was heavy and I pushed and dragged it along. The kids would make fun of me. You know…

I was determined to be strong. I did exercises in my backyard imitating what the gymnasts did.

(Hesitating, then leaning closer , and in an even softer voice) Frank, I will admit to you, I did not walk along the beach to see the gymnasts. I did not want them to see my leg.

So, every day I swim in the Bosporus about 100 yards off-shore, a distance like from here to Oxmoor Mall. I would swim to see them and watch them offshore.

Frank: That’s 2 to 3 miles in the open ocean one way! You must have been an excellent swimmer by then, too.

Sedat: Yes, good, but I swim from rock to rock, so I could rest some.

sedat-2_edited.jpg


Frank: What brought you to this country?

Sedat: My sister already was in the United States. She wanted me to be with her for many years. I was in Switzerland then. I moved there from Turkey when I was 13 years old. The people where I worked were very kind to me. They wanted me to work at the Swiss Embassy in the United States. But I told them no.

I came in 1968 to Louisville to be with my sister, and worked as a professional gymnast doing shows in different places in Louisville. My wife–I want you to say this, she is so understanding. I go to so many games– Sacred Heart, Trinity, University of Louisville. They all want me to perform for them, and I like to do it to please them. (Sacred Hall plans to put Sedat in their Hall of Fame for all his efforts for them; he was named the #1 fan by U of L in both 1980 and 1986.)

Frank: How did you become such a big Card fan?

Sedat: It was through Joe Ledkte (a center for Cards in 60’s). He was dating one of the gymnasts I knew. He introduced me to Wes Unseld. (Former AD) Bill Olson liked my show. That’s when I started doing half time shows for University of Louisville. (Shows me a picture of himself, doing a handstand at half court with a male Card cheerleader supporting him.)

Frank: What’s your greatest U of L memory after watching them for 40 years?Sedat: It is probably not what people think. It was many years ago in a Metro tournament in Memphis. People did not think our team was good that year. Not many people came to the tournament.

My daughter was having her First Communion that Sunday. I went for the first game on Thursday. Not many people thought they would win one game. But we won the first game, and we won the second game. So I called my daughter and apologized. I had to be there. They needed me on Sunday!

Jock Sutherland and Van Vance were nice and let me apologize to my daughter on the radio. They even gave me a spot on TV to apologize.

Larry Finch–he was so nice to me. He was the coach of Memphis, but he remembered me from playing against us. He gave me free tickets for every game after they lost–he didn’t care. He and other Memphis fans, they say: ” Sedat, why don’t you do your routine for us. We wish we had fans like you.” They kid me. They were very nice to me. Other fans are always nice to me because I try to be kind to them and to be professional.
Frank: And, I guess we won that final game in the tournament…

Sedat: Yes! We won! You know, the players are bigger and stronger, but their heart’s are the same as any 17 or 18 year old. If you show them true love, they want to perform better.

You can not win all the time. Some fans may think so, but no, it is impossible. I told my children when they played: “Give your heart! Do your best!” That’s all you can do.

Frank: How do you keep yourself in shape? What’s your routine?

Sedat: Every morning, I stretch 20-30 minutes. Every morning. And every other day I go to the gym and lift weights, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I go slow and do not do heavy weights. Once, I did a bench press of 317 pounds. In 1968.

Frank: 317! That’s more than twice your bodyweight. My best was only in the 250’s. (Sedat smiles.)

Sedat: Yes, Ken Waller–you know, Mr. Universe in the 1960’s. He was here, and worked with me some. Red hair.

Frank: Yes, I do remember Waller and the red hair vaguely. Let’s talk about U of L some more. Besides honoring you as # 1 fan in ‘80 and ‘86, have they ever given you season tickets, or recognized you in any other way?

Sedat: U of L has always been kind to me. My season tickets are on the floor so the U of L people were very nice, particularly many years ago. But no, they have never paid for my season tickets. I have never asked for anything.

But Frank, I must tell you, I do not know if I can do the handstand again. Last game, they came to me after the handstand and told me I can not do the handstand any more. They brought two police men.

They let me do it at the Georgetown game. Nobody said anything. I don’t understand.

Last year, they said they didn’t want me to do it. It was after I did a handstand at a time out on the court with one of the cheerleaders. When we were done and walking off, a fan yelled at the official near me that it was a bad call. I agreed and I said it was a bad call. And the official heard me. And he got upset and told me to walk off faster. I told him I was walking fast –I pointed at my leg. But he got angry. I did say it was a bad call.

sedat-3_edited.jpg

After that, (a U of L official who should remain nameless so he doesn’t get death threats from irate fans –like me) told me he didn’t want me to do it. I don’t understand. After 40 years, why now? After he told me that, I was upset. I tried to talk to Coach Pitino. I heard that he liked what I did. (Another U of L official) talked to me and said he would try to work things out. So I thought it was ok.

I have signed all the papers ( absolving U of L, etc. of any liability for this stunt.) I signed them years ago. I’m willing to sign them again.

I can not hurt anyone but me. There is only concrete below me–no people.

I do not understand. I just do not know.

Frank: Then you won’t be doing the handstand at the Villanova game for Senior’s night?

Sedat: I do not think I should. They had two police last time. I don’t want to get in trouble.

I want to. I will be at the game. I just don’t think I should. I wish someone could do something.

**************************************************************************

Many people think Sedat is crazy for doing his handstand. Most of the women I’ve talked to, and at least some of the men. They think he’s going to kill himself or others. At some point they think he won’t know his limit –and then the crowd will witness an incredible tragedy. It’s bordering on insane and U of L is crazy for letting him do it, they say.

I say this. This man wants to fly. This man lives to entertain.

People forget: A few generations ago, it was considered an act of true manhood to show feats of strength and of great daring. For a professional, who knew their limits, to risk their life in a feat of true death-defying daring was (and still is) breath-taking and inspiring to many people–even to some who later will decry it as crazy or stupid.

To lose your life–or to be wounded or scarred —in the effort, was considered noble. Think Harry Houdini or lesser known daredevils and world adventurers.

Physical strength, daring, skill and fearlessness were (and are) core elements of being a man. For Sedat to perform at his level, in spite of his handicap, is transcendent. Sedat is what my Dad’s generation (and Teddy Roosevelt) would call a “man’s man.” It was the highest compliment possible.

But I feel Sedat is more than even that. Devoted husband and family man, selfish giver of his time to schools and charities, soft-spoken and kind….Sedat is the kind of person we all aspire to be.

I have only one question left: Will someone please, please help this man fly?

**********************************************************************

The Card Fan HOF’s second inductee:

Rob Hickerson.

Interview: The Cheerleader aka Rob Hickerson

Posted by frankpos on March 12, 2008

“The first time I did the CARDS cheer,

I had to spell the it out real slowly.

Nobody knew what the heck I was doing.”

Rob Hickerson, business owner, stadium cheerleader, and Card fan since 1969.

******************************************

The Cheerleader is every bit the fast talking dynamo you’d expect from a person who leads 20,000 people by leaping to his feet and stomping , coat-waving, pointing–anything–to get the crowd’s attention, build it to a crescendo and, finally end it by spelling out CARDS with his body to thunderous chants.

Often he “works” with Sedat, the Handstand Guy, who serves as a killer warm-up act for Rob’s CARDS cheer. And Rob’s nine year old son, Dominic, does the stomp and cheer right next to Dad.

This man knows how to lead a cheer. No, that’s too mild a word. The cheerleaders on the floor lead a cheer. Rob…he conducts the crowd, feels it along, helps it build, and at just the right time, goes for the killer cheer.

This 56 year old guy kinda puts the cheerleaders on the floor to shame, in this regard.

He is a maestro at this, as perhaps he should be since he has been doing this for…28 years.

rob-hickerson-the-cheerleader-002_edited.jpg

Rob runs his own mortgage brokerage firm, and I interviewed him by phone, and then had the pleasure of meeting him and his son before the Villanova game. His staccato speech is punctuated every few sentences with a short infectious laugh.

Frank: I understand we share a mutual background and a mutual friend, Greg_____.

Rob: Ah, yes, the Big E. (I smile at this mention of the childhood nickname known by Greg’s close friends.) He and I were in the same class at St. X. Then he and I went to U of L in ‘69 together too.

Like you Frank, I grew up in Louisville with Rupp’s Runts and was both a U of L and UK fan back then. Really, quite honestly, it was the race thing with UK in the 60’s that made me want to go more and more toward U of L.

When I went to U of L in 1969, then that was when I really went totally with the Cards.

In fact my senior year when I worked at the old European Health Spa, Dana Kirk used to come in. He was the assistant to Denny Crum back then, you know. Anyway, he comped me tickets all year long.

Images of those plaid jackets of his…bright green and yellow…still pop in my mind! (Infectious laugh)

Frank: Our section calls you The Cheerleader. Others call you the Coat Waver. When did you first start doing the CARDS cheer– and why?

Rob: Actually, it was the first championship year, 1980. We were supposed to be good that year. It was the first game of the season. It was a close game with like 6 to 7 minutes left. And the crowd was dead.

I decided to do something. If you remember back then, UK’s fans were known for loudly supporting their team.

I got up on my chair and started yelling and trying to get the crowd going. And they did get going some. And the Cards went on a run from there to win the game.

After the game, my ex-wife and I, and some friends were at the old Kunz’s the Dutchman. And we were all excited and thinking about what I could do to get the crowd into it even more.

At the same time, if you remember, that trunk driver got up on the Baltimore Orioles dug out and spelled out Orioles, and they went to the World Series.

So, I decided to spell out CARDS.

The next game I did it. But, Frank, I made the letters a lot more carefully, and slowly then. Nobody knew what the heck I was doing. (Infectious laugh.)

Frank: Had you ever been a cheerleader–or done anything like this before?

Rob: No! Never. I guess the closest was like you probably experienced at Trinity. At St. X, I remember being in awe as a freshman of the large packed gym and the loud cheering. And you know how it was at all the football games too.

Frank: I noticed that the Handstand Guy, Sedat, sometimes helps with the cheer. When did that start?

sedat-2_edited.jpg

Rob: It was early on, in ‘81 or ‘82. He was one of the first to come help me. If you remember then, you could walk all the way around Freedom Hall. He and I would do that.

We’d wander around, yell and wave–try to make eye contact and point our finger. Get one person in that section clapping– the others will follow, you know.

You could work up a hell of a sweat! (Infectious laugh.)

After a while, I asked him what he could do that would help. When he showed me the handstand, it blew my mind. I said, “Let’s do it! Of course, it drives the crowd wild!

Frank: Do you have any special game memories from all these years?

Rob: Well, the championship game in 1980 was the best, the most memorable.

But I’ll tell you another one. Remember that Tennessee game a few years ago, when we came back from like 9 points down and hit all those 3’s in the last couple of minutes to win?

Well, this older couple from Tennessee was seated right down from me, and was razzing me the whole game long in a nice way. Since we were losing I had to take it most of the game.

But, when we won on that last second 3, I jumped out of my seat, and got down on my knees in front of them, and said ” Well, how do you like me now?” And they just laughed. (Infectious laugh.)

*******************************************

What primal impulses drive this depth of passion by all of us to the pack, the tribe…the team.

Whatever it is, Rob Hickerson has it in spades for the Cards.

He teaches and shows this passion to his son…and to all of us.

He is the Cheerleader.

And, the second inductee into the Card Fan Hall of Fame.


**************************************************************************

The Card Fan HOF’s third inductee:

Scott Spicer

Interview: The Boogie Man aka Scott Spicer

“It’s difficult for him to put into words what he feels.

But, Scott tells me his actions speak louder than words. “

Janice Spicer, mother of

Scott Spicer, sports fanatic, Boogie Cam dancer, and Card fan since 1980.

***************************************************************

He’s in my section. You all have seen him. When the Boogie Cam dancing starts, he’s the one that always gets the biggest cheers from the crowd.

Our section knows him as the Boogie Man. His real name: Scott Spicer.

Scott lives with his kind and gracious mother, Janice Spicer, who allowed me to visit with her and Scott in their home. Scott has Downs Syndrome, but carries on a very active and productive life. Unfortunately, it is difficult for Scott to participate in ordinary conversation. But his mother served as our translator.

After raising Scott and his sister, Janice has devoted her career to helping those in need–first, as a public school teacher for children with special needs, and now working with the homeless and families in crisis. Her constant warm smile, good spirit and twinkle in her eyes hint at some of her talents in this area.

In my phone conversation with her before my visit, Janice filled me in a bit as to what to expect:

“You may not be able to really talk with him much. It’s difficult for him to put into words what he feels. But Scott tells me his actions speak louder than words.”

******************************************************************

Janice welcomes me into their home. “Scott’s been expecting you. He’s watching the Cubs game right now. Please have a seat, and I’ll go get him.”

I turn around to look for a seat, but before I can sit down, a large, smiling young man strides quickly toward me and stops. It’s Scott –decked out in full Card wear, including a Boogie Man shirt, and over-sized, bright red and white Card sneaker/sleepers. He is ready!

I am momentarily stunned…. but in awe of the pure and honest display of true Card spirit and goodwill that stands before me.

Janice introduces me to Scott and I say some pleasantries and shake his hand. He smiles back. I smile. We start…

Frank: Janice, how long has Scott been a Card fan?

Janice: “Oh, for a long time. Ever since he was 8 years old (Scott is now 37). “

“Scott was born in Bowling Green, where his father and I went to college. We were not Card fans then. But we were all from Louisville. We went to Manual in the ’60s when football was big. So when we moved back to Louisville after college, we started to follow the football team at first. Scott grew up with U of L football. Then we got into basketball when they won their first championship and with the great teams in the ’80s.”

“When Howard Schnellenberger came to U of L, Howard kind of made Scott a team mascot, and he went to all the football camps. We are huge Schnellenberger fans. I have a soft spot in my heart for Howard. He took the time to allow Scott to really participate.”

The twinkle in Janice’s eye moment disappears for a moment and her voice lowers: “Scott has had rheumatoid arthritis since he was 14. The medicine has taken a toll on his body–high blood pressure, diabetes. For over 10 years, he was a member of the Cardinal Booster Club and traveled to follow the teams as much as he could. But, now he’s limited from traveling. He had to give up going to football games 13 years ago because of the walking.”

Frank: Scott has been at every basketball game I can remember, except for the last game of the season. I was wondering why he wasn’t there.

Janice: “Yes, he wouldn’t miss a ball game for anything. Unfortunately, Scott had a flare-up in his knee. He hated to miss it.”

Frank: Scott, who is your favorite Card basketball player of all time?

Scott smiles and thinks. His eyes drift off for a few seconds to past images. Suddenly, an even bigger grin breaks out. “LaBradford Smith.”

Janice: “LaBradford was very nice to Scott when he met him. “

Frank: Janice, please tell me some more about Scott’s background.

Janice: “Well, He’s a very social person. He went to his prom in high school and he goes to dances with the Special Olympics. He enjoys music of all types–religious, country, old rock and roll–but not any rap.”

“Scott is a huge sports fan. He reads every word of the sports section. He will cut things out and save them in a file cabinet. He likes to collect things.”

“He loves all kinds of sports. For example, he was just watching the Cubs on TV. Later he’ll watch the U of L women’s basketball game. And, he was thrilled when the baseball team went to the College World Series.”

“Right now he is starting to follow the women’s softball team and is looking forward to going to the games. Some of the girls on the team danced with Scott. He really liked that.”

I look over at Scott. He is beaming radiantly.

“Some Cardinal fans may not like this, but Scott will root for UK too. The University of Louisville is #1 but he will root for other state schools, like Western Kentucky, where we went to college. His grandfather taught him to root for all schools from Kentucky.”

“For 15 years, Scott has worked in the sheltered workshop which is part of the Independent Industries and Goodwill. He puts things together, assembles items for their clients.”

“Something that is very important to Scott is his church. He takes his role as Communion server at Southeast Christian very seriously. It really distressed him to miss it recently because of the snow.”

Frank: Were you surprised the first time Scott danced for the Boogie Cam?

Janice: “Yes! The first time they did the Boogie Cam, he just got up. It surprised me and the people around us a lot. They have all known Scott since he was a little boy. He grew up at Freedom Hall. So everyone was surprised, but they supported him and told him he did great. Ever since then, he has done it and really enjoys doing it.”

Frank: Has Scott ever received any recognition for his Boogie Cam dancing?

Janice: The first year Thornton’s gave him a sweat shirt with “Boogie Fan” on it. He loved it so much, he wore it to every game, until he finally wore it out. They gave him another long sleeved shirt–a 3x. He liked it, but it was too hot in Freedom Hall for him to wear it.”

“Recently, when we stopped at a restaurant, some of the people said, “Hey, there’s the Boogie Guy. Can we have your autograph?” Scott enjoyed that.”

“But Frank, Scott doesn’t do it for recognition. He just does it for fun. Because he enjoys it. “

Frank: Scott, who is your favorite player on this year’s team?

Again, Scott thinks and his eyes drift off, but this time the answer comes more readily: “Earl.”

Janice: “Scott is really excited about this year’s team. Naturally, he was disappointed by the loss to Georgetown. But, after a short time he was okay and said “OK, they did the best they could. We’ll get them next time.” (She laughs) You know, he takes these losses a lot less hard than me. I’m still moping the next morning, and he’ll come in and comfort me. He’s always in good spirits, and even tempered. We should all be so lucky! He’s much better than I am. (She laughs again.)”

Frank: Does Scott have a favorite team or souvenir?

Janice: “His favorite team was the 1986 team, and his favorite souvenir was a basketball signed by Denny Crum and all the players on that team. (Again Janice’s smile fades momentarily) Unfortunately, when the big flood came a few years ago, he lost that ball and really everything–all his music collection, pictures, videos, every Star Trek–he’s a collector!. He lost everything…we lost everything. Lots of family items. You see, we’re close to Beargrass Creek.”

Frank: “I’m truly sorry to hear that.”

Janice: “Thanks. We’re finally all back together again. But, as you can imagine, it upset Scott a lot at the time.”

Frank: Janice, will Scott ever be able to live on his own?

Janice : “It’s been Scott’s dream for a long time to live on his own. He wants to have his own apartment. He’s met many people at the Special Olympics and the dances who live on their own. He’s able to read and write and has held a stable job for 15 years.”

“But he’s on a waiting list for supported living with 6-7000 other people. It just may never happen.”

“But, he still has the dream. And Scott and I know he could do it.”

********************************************************************

Fortunately, God has blessed people with Downs Syndrome, like Scott, in many ways. There is a pureness, kindness and honesty in them that strikes anyone who meets them. Those qualities seem to endure and do not readily yield to crippling disabilities, age, or cynicism.

We should all be so strong.

Scott also shows us all the way with his dancing.

It is a show of pure, unrestrained joy–and fun. For being at a Card’s game, for being in the Hall–the home in which he was raised–for being surrounded by people who know, love, and support him.

We should all feel such unrestrained joy and fun — again.

Through his dancing, Scott shows us his love of the Cards and his love of the game…and his love of all of us as his Card family.

Thank you, Scott. Please, please keep on dancing.

We love you, too.

One Response to “Card Fan Hall of Fame”

  1. Dave said

    Really great stories. Been a huge Cards Fan for close to 20 years and been seeing these great people at every game for most of my life, but never knew anything about them until today. Thanks Frank!

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