Security guards took issue, and the school officially banned him from games. Other UCI fans came to his defense. They wrote letters, made T-shirts, started #FreeSuperfan on social media. Soon, local newspapers picked up on the story. Then the TV stations. Then the Wall Street Journal.
“It just started getting momentum,” Franklin said. “I can’t believe all this has happened, but I think it’s because of the people who say, ‘Hey, Irvine does stuff like this.’”
Franklin was banned seven games into UCI’s season, but he didn’t forget his Anteaters. He followed the team and went to some away games, and other fans and alums even helped pay for him to go to Corvallis, Ore., for UCI’s regional and Stillwater this weekend.
Friday, he made his debut to Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, and didn’t hesitate to be himself.
He screamed his nicknames for players — “Sparkplug,” “Baseball Elvis,” “Outlaw” and many more.
But he also shook countless hands, talked and tailgated with OSU fans and took pictures with a line of people who asked. Some might have been put off by Superfan’s outrageous antics, but he promises he means no harm.
“I don’t really ever have a problem with opposing fans,” Franklin said. “Like Oregon State. I think the people loved me. A lot of people just think it’s novelty and it’s kind of fun. Some might listen to me and wait for me to say, ‘Hey you (stink),’ but it never happens. It’s all positive.”
Franklin and UCI are still working out whether he will be allowed to return in the future. For now, he’s taking the experience in and cheering his team on.
“Dignity is overrated,” Franklin said. “When I’m at the ballpark, I’m letting my hair down, interacting with the kids. At a game, if I can put a smile on peoples’ faces, that’s a good game for me.”