Monday, October 10, 2011

The End?

Hey gang. For most of you who know me in “real life” you know that I am a pretty direct and to the point guy. I rarely mince words, and I always give it to you straight. This post is going to be no different, though with all of the thoughts in my head at the moment, this could very well wind up being three pages long (I really hope not). Anyway, there are a few things I’d like to go over with you guys so I might as well just get to it.

You may have heard by now that my current plans are to not return to Section 203 next year. While this is one of the toughest choices I’ve ever had to make in my life, I feel that it’s time and there are obviously many factors that are contributing to my decision

The biggest reason for me to not return is the lack of stability my chosen career path affords. When this business began, I was single and living alone. These days I have an amazing wife by my side and two of the most beautiful children one could lay eyes on. It is simply impractical for me to continue under my current set of circumstances. I can not rely on the weather to cooperate or for the Yankees to win in order to bring home a paycheck. That was acceptable in the past, but my priorities have changed. I need to take care of my family.

I’m aware that some of the folks reading this might not know me too well, so maybe I need to give a proper background in order for you to understand my story. In addition to being one of the more recognizable Bleacher Creatures at Yankee Stadium, I run a small apparel company with a point of sale location outside of Yankee stadium. I specialize in “all-original” sports apparel catering to the Hard Core Yankee fan. My main line focuses on outfitting the Bleacher Creatures with branded merchandise (tees, hats, scarves, pins) and my secondary line concentrates on the “rivalry” aspect of baseball in the Bronx. Additionally, I feature original and creative “player themed” apparel. I am the sole distributor and I handle every aspect of the business from inventory management to packing and shipping online orders.

When I started the company back in my parent’s basement, I set out with a simple mission statement: “Make the Bleacher Creatures a legitimate Brand extension of the Yankee franchise”. I’m sure if I dug around I could find the original legal pad with that statement, as well as amateur doodles and drawings which would ultimately become the first Creature logo.

Since those days, I have seen my business evolve with each season. I started out with two shirt designs: the original Section 39 tee and the grey distressed RF Bleacher tee which I still carry to this day. As of this very moment I carry thirteen different designs in six sizes and there have been over thirty five (yes, I counted) all original Bald Vinny creations over the years.

There is one thing, however, that has been holding me back and limiting my growth potential and that is licensing. Unfortunately, I do not have any of the resources needed (money, manpower, time) to secure the proper endorsements for the Bleacher Creature brand. Without licensing, I can’t get distribution. Without volume distribution, I cannot see any significant growth to my business.

In those first few seasons, I was convinced that I would get “picked up” by a corporation or investor (read: The Yankees) that would help take my brand to the next level. Our group was often featured in local media and even nationally during big post season games. I felt, and still feel, that because the “parent company” is the biggest name in sports – the media coverage alone would be enough to provide a return on investment. In this market, a little bit goes a long way and coupled with my hard work, success is all but guaranteed. Heck, at this point just the buzz of helping the little guy should provide decent return. To me, and I guess to all small business owners with a dream, it seemed like a no-brainer.

Every year showed steady growth in sales and popularity until I took the year off in 2005 to pursue reality television in YES Network’s Ultimate Roadtrip. In a way, it was a terrible decision. I had just turned 30. Just moved in with my then girlfriend (and now wife) and had a thriving business that I completely put on hold so I could chase the Yankees around for a summer. Financially, it almost crippled me, and for a long time it was a decision that I struggled with immensely.

But that year helped me in a different (better) way, one that would help me focus my vision and hone in on my business goals. Being on the road taught me just how incredibly passionate Yankee fans are. I met people that lived in Middle America and who would drive for 10+ hours with the whole family packed in a tiny car just to watch the Yankees play baseball in person. I met grown men who could recall to me every little detail of their one trip to the big ball park in the Bronx as if they were little kids seeing it for the first time.

It was that kind of passion that taught me the real driving force behind sports is the fan base. And I’m not talking about the seat fillers behind the plate. I mean the real tried and true fan. It’s the kind of fan that lives and dies with every game. One not afraid to get up and make a little noise to inspire a rally - the kind of fan who will take their one week of vacation during the summer to see The Yankees play halfway across the country. It’s the kind of fan that, in my eyes, is personified in the brand known as “The Bleacher Creatures”.

From that point on, my singular focus was on fandom. How can I be a passionate fan? How can I get others to be inspired from my passion? What did it mean to be a fan?

Those were the questions that drove me creatively with the apparel I produced and also with the outlook I had in the bleachers. Being located outside of the stadium gave me the opportunity to be at pretty much every home game (with a few notable exceptions) since 2001. That kept my face out there, and made me more recognizable (and the sunglasses on ALL the time was certainly part of that). It helped me establish credibility with Yankee fans, because they all know I am one of them. We share the same passion for this team, and they know the apparel I make represents that passion.

Since the beginning, my only form of marketing has been word of mouth. Fans telling fans about a cool shirt they saw at the stadium, or about this crazy bald guy screaming his face off at the beginning of every game. With the explosion of digital media, we (The Creatures) soon began reaching a wider audience through YouTube. Since there is a roll call every night, there are literally hundreds of videos posted. Social networking sites have played a huge part in growing the brand, first with MySpace and now with Twitter and FaceBook. Not only does it allow me as a business owner to be in direct contact with my customers, it also lends to a feeling of being in a unique sub-culture. Sure, there are Yankee fans everywhere, but it’s only this special group of fans that know what the Bleacher Creatures and Bald Vinny are all about.

In business terms, this is known as a Niche Market. I am not interested in the corporate fans that sit in the pricey seats. I am not interested in attracting the fan going to Modell’s to get their first Derek Jeter shirt. My target market is the obsessive Yankee fan, plain and simple. Luckily for me, those types of people are in great abundance across the country. I am fully convinced that the Bleacher Creatures would not have achieved the notoriety that we have if it was any other team besides the Yankees. In the same breath I also have to admit that if it was any other team, a marketing/licensing deal probably would have been achieved already.

Obviously the Yankees are an incredibly successful franchise with an amazingly rich history. They also have a terrible stigma attached to them as being “untouchable”. Anyone who has waited for autographs as the players whisk in and out of their private underground garage will attest to that. From my perspective, I see this as an opportunity. Some of the successes I have been afforded, especially the last two years, have given me a little bit more “access” to the players. Mostly through charity events that I have been graciously invited to participate in, but also in a more professional level, as when I was invited to spend some time at Steiner Sports. I almost feel like it is part of my job to be a conduit to the fans and share those experiences with them because it is so rare for an average fan to be having those experiences in the first place.

I have been encouraged in this regard by the feedback I have been getting from Yankee fans across the globe. When I blogged for Steiner over the winter, my very first post garnered more hits and comments than any other blog they’ve had, combined. Photos I uploaded from signings routinely attracted several thousand views. Even today, when I don’t have an active blog but only Twitter followers and FaceBook friends, the interaction is at a level that is sometimes baffling. How can there be such a thirst for the content I can provide, but no real way or means of providing it?

It almost seems silly to me at this point. I am basically forced to walk away from a business I love, from a business that I poured over 10 of the best years of my life into, because I can’t get anyone else to believe in its potential but me.

That’s probably the worst part of this whole thing, the feeling that I failed. I failed to take my ideas where I wanted, I failed to achieve what I thought was possible. Sure, I can give it another year, but after 10 years selling shirts on River Ave, how much longer am I supposed to try? More importantly to me, how do I convince my family that this next year will be “the year”?

It’s certainly not for lack of effort. I have made my pitch to a lot of high ranking people within the organization as well as other businesses that are closely tied to the Yankees and MLB in general. I have tried to elevate my status within the Yankee Universe and have worked diligently with my fellow Bleacher Creatures to improve our public image and standing within the community. Looking back now, it’s a shame that it all seems to be a waste.

In recent days, there has been a lot of activity on both my FaceBook and Twitter feed about my decision to move on. There is even an online petition to get me a job with the Yankees. I sincerely appreciate the outpouring of support from fans and friends, but I want to make it clear that I am not looking for a hand out. I have a legitimate business with a good revenue stream. I’ve just fulfilled the potential that I am capable of under my current set of circumstances.

So really, where does all of this stuff leave us? Well, for starters, I don’t think I will be renewing my tickets for next year. I need to find a job, and take care of my family. It’s not fair for me to go to a potential employer and look for a full time job knowing I am going to abandon them come April. As I said earlier, it’s the desire for stability that I seek. If I want to go to a game, I am sure I can score some tickets. But in all honesty, I think I would really need to distance myself from the stadium for a good length of time. The place just means too much to me for me to go as a casual fan. It’s an unfortunate side effect, but one that I think I’ll need for my own sanity.

Of course, this leads to the next big question of what happens to Roll Call. Honestly, I don’t know, and truthfully, it’s not my decision to make. Roll Call was there before I got there and I expect it to be there when I leave. I was given the job by bleacher elders and I would expect they would pass it on to someone else. Obviously, there are very few people who make it to each and every home game, so perhaps the duties will be split amongst the regulars. I really don’t know what will happen on that front.

Regardless if I am there or not, the spirit of the Creatures will never die because as fans our passion for the Yankees will never die. I have always said that being a Creature is more than where you sit. It’s a way of life. It’s what makes you the kind of fan that you are. It’s the feeling of pride you get when we see your team perform and succeed. It’s the tingling you feel when you witness an historic moment. It’s simply something that will never cease to exist.

Perhaps the thing that means the most to me is the respect I’ve gotten from other Yankee fans. We are a very tough bunch and I’m incredibly humbled by your admiration. It truly means the world to me to be even considered by some to be some small modicum of a fraction of this glorious franchise. It has been an honor to represent you and I can only hope my achievements thus far have made you proud.

I owe a great deal of thanks to the thousands upon thousands of Yankees fans that have supported me through the years. All of you guys that religiously bought all of my creations (even the crappy ones), I thank you. Even if you never bought a damn thing, but just stopped by for a picture, a chat or a handshake, I thank you too because without you guys there is no me. And for that I will always be grateful.

89 comments:

  1. i understand and will miss our pre-game meetups, in game jokes and role call. you are a stand up guy and were a great face to see every time i went to a game. yankee stadium won't be the same without bald vinny.

    -jay and betsy

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  2. I think I would be a great candidate to continue your legacy. Just saying!

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  3. I wish you the best of luck!

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  4. It will be tough to see you not there leading the Roll Call. But you are definitely making the right decision in focusing on your life and yourself. That's what counts in the end. The Yankees will always be there (god willingly). Thank you for your dedication.

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  5. Vinny - you are truly a Yankee legend. I'll miss hearing you on television - but it's totally understandable why you made the decision. Please don't feel like you failed - because you didn't. Best of luck in everything you do!!

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  6. Box seats still suck.

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  7. God Bless you and your family in your future endeavors. You will always be remembered by me and thousands if not millions of other fans. Thank you for all you've given us.

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  8. Well-written, honest article. You will be missed in right field, Vin

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  9. thanks for the memories. without you at home games starting the role call, the yankees will not have the same feel. good luck in your future endeavors. you will always be a yankee

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  10. you don't fail ,I totally understand the frustration and remeber you make the bleachers creatures global , good luck my friend,

    lorenzoperal

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  11. As a Chicagoan, you gained mine and my friend's respect...not easy to do haha...again, good luck to you, I honestly think you'll be stable soon. Whether you've proven it in the corporate world or not, you've proven it to a LOT of people that you have what it takes to take a business to the next level. I wish you nothing but the best, and you are a man for taking care of your family FIRST. - PMillerChi

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  12. Bald Vinny we're gonna miss you! It's a tough decision but you need to do what's best for your family. I wish things could have worked out differently but don't ever feel like you failed. I want to thank you for all of your hard work. Best wishes to you and your family! YankeesUniverse!

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  13. You're as much a Yankee as Babe Ruth himself, Vinny! It isn't an odd thing for my dad to say, "Hey! I can hear Vinny!" once Roll Call starts as we watch the games here in Florida. {It should also be noted that my dad refuses to partake in The Wave when we travel to Tampa for any Yankees games -- proclaiming, "Creatures DONT do The Wave!"} -- The Yankees Fans are a Family, and you'll surely always be apart of it. Thank you for everything you've done, and for showing us - most of all - what a TRUE BLUE fan is all about!

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  14. I met you once over the summer, I was with my family. We bought tickets in section 203, because we know thats where the true fans are!! My Dad went to tons of games before and even after I was born, he showed me my first Yankees experience, sitting in the bleachers of course! I am the Yankee fan I am today because of him! I had the pleasure to sit a couple rows behind you, and it was awesome!! There's no other energy like what I experienced that day! I want to sincerely thank you and wish you the best in whatever you do in your future! Godbless!

    Sincerely,
    A 17 year old Yankee fan

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  15. Roll Call and the Bleacher Creatures will never be the same. :(

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  16. Thank you for all your time and dedication to the fan experience. I'm couldn't help but cry reading this. You will be missed. However, from the parent's standpoint I completely understand. I wish you and your family many blessing. Success, love, good health and happiness in all you do.

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  17. Sorry to see you go. Although I am unable to make most games, I've always looked forward to hearing Roll Call on YES Network. It was so great to know you on Twitter. You will surely be missed but I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

    Yankeegrlconnie

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  18. Bald Vinny-
    I am so honored that I got to meet you this year. In June, I made my first trip ever to NYC to see my Yankees play in Yankee Stadium for the first time (living in Illinois makes New York a difficult trip). In my first game, the Yankees lost, and Jeter went on the DL. The best part of that game was seeing you just a few rows away, and walking over to you, shaking your hand, and getting a picture taken with you. I remember you told me, "Thanks for the support." I wanted to buy a shirt from you, but never did find your stand. I was hoping to buy a shirt when I came back to NYC in 2013, but that doesn't look like it would happen. I also wanted to participate in roll call, but maybe you'll make it to a few games a year, and lead roll call then. Maybe I'll be lucky to be there at the same game as you in 2013, and do roll call with you. To me, you are as much a part of Yankees baseball as any of the players, the stadium, etc. Bald Vinny is Yankees baseball. Some might find it hard to understand how the luckiest and most well-known fan in the world could walk away, but I respect your decision to be with your family. I just hope you still make it to a few games a year, just not all 81. Watching Yankees games on tv won't be the same without you. Someone will continue roll call, and even though I can never hear you directly, I know in my heart it's you, and it will hurt not to hear you. I just hope whoever takes over is half as good as you! I just hope you continue to use social networking, as I enjoy following you on twitter. Even if you don't go to games anymore, you are still the greatest Yankees fan I know. I wish you and your family nothing but the best, and who knows? Maybe one of these days you'll be back, with your kids chanting the roll call by your side. Thank you for being part of my passion. I eat, sleep, breathe Yankees baseball. I'm glad I got to meet you, even if it was in your final year. I also hope you keep your website up, as I want to help you by buying a shirt for Christmas!

    Jamie Kiefer
    @jkiefer23

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  19. Wow. Good stuff Bald Vinny.

    For what it's worth, I would love to see them find a spot for you in the merchandise department helping to design shirts, etc.

    Again, great blog. Enjoyed it very much.
    My son and I traveled up this past summer and had the pleasure of meeting you in-person. The chance to stand with you as you did roll-call is a memory that we will never forget.

    I can relate to many points you made. Something about the Yankees and the word "untouchable" is right on. At one time as a young boy to a young man, I collected autographs and was turned down often by many of Yankee players, etc. For instance, in Spring Training...when all other teams were signing away and fan friendly...the Yankees were not. Yet still, they had the most fans show up and many of them who were turned down for an autograph would simply walk away with a smile. Strange. I guess it's kinda like the girlfriend who stays with the boyfriend that treats her so bad at times. LOL! Yet, still to this day I'm a die hard Yankees fan myself. I've spent a bit of time trying to figure out the whole "Yankee-fan-Love" thing and never can.

    As a family man myself, I can tell you...you are making the right decision. You must put the family first. The Yankees will always be there when there is time.

    Best of luck to you!
    Sincerely,
    JC
    Birmingham, AL

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  20. You've always been a class act and represented the YANKEES with dignity and respect. You will be missed. Thank you for all your efforts.

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  21. I don't know you personally and I'm sad that I never got to meet u because u are a Yankee "celebrity" to us die hard fans. Its a tough thing to let go of a passion but family comes first. I will definitely be buying some shirts before I can't anymore! Good luck with everything!

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  22. I find it odd that no one wants to exploit Vinny. Man up, Hank, Hal, and Cashman!

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  23. Vinny-

    My name is Nick, I'm from Nebraska and a fellow follower in twitter, (@ndahlberg12). I was gonna reply on twitter but the character limit stopped me, I just wanted to let you know that as a fan and family of the Yankees, I sincerely Thank You for your dedication to the tried and true Yankee FANS. One thing my wife and I loved to do when we were able to visit NY is to puruse the stands and bars around the stadium to get the full effect of attending a Yankee game, including stopping my your stand to view some of your inventive designs. It was also cool when we would catch an occasional game at a local bar here in town and see a "Fawk Youk" shirt and we knew right away where it came from.

    As people have mentioned you dedication to roll call will be missed greatly, that's obvious and goes without sayins.

    You may feel like you failed at times, but I applaud you, over your tenure of your business you still continued to do what all to many people decide to not to, provide for your family. The most important thing in life.

    Family is what gets you through life, if your family life starts to fall or suffer, its time for a change. I applaud everything you have done, and as a Yankee FAN, I wish you NOTHING but the best in your future endevors and know for a fact you will find something quickly.

    God Bless and take care of Rose and those kids.

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  24. Wow Vinny, that was truly from the heart. I've visited you on River Ave and have a small collection of shirts over the years that I've purchased for my son. You have always been easy to talk to, sharing your experiences with traipsing over the US to see the Yankees play with YES, and just a genuinely nice guy and ultimate Yankee Fan. You will be successful no matter what you do, because you have the desire and the drive to do it, and I truly understand about your circumstances now being a dad and husband changes things. I have a feeling some good is going to come your way....you will always be the face of Bleacher creatures everywhere. God Bless you and your family always....

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  25. Thank you for all that you've done for the fan experience for the rest of us at the stadium. You will be missed. But sometimes we have to make the hard decisions to do what's best for you and your family. You definitely have the respect and pride of the Yankee Universe. Good luck in where ever life takes you.

    RM

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  26. my very first yankees game was June 26th this year. Old timers day :) i begged my parents for 203 tickets because i desperately wanted to be in roll call. it was the perfect day, i even saw a Teixecution! i was too shy to say hello, but my next game my family came to buy shirts and you could not have been nicer. i suppose its fitting that im wearing my teixecutioner shirt today. i've sat in 2 other sections since then, and neither measure up to the intensity of 203. all yankee fans wish you the best of luck. you will always be the gold standard of yankee fans.

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  27. Great piece. I was wondering, there's a lot of tshirt stands on River ave, are they all affiliated with you? If not, what is your feeling about these 'other' shops.

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  28. Bald Vinny, you're the man.

    You built something really cool, made some great friends and have a stellar resume (your business experience will be super valuable as you turn the page and go out into the job market). Not to mention your great family.

    That's success dude.

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  29. Thank you for the memories, Vinny. The day I sat in the bleachers was the best game I ever went to. I (and ALL Yankees fans) wish you could continue doing what you do best, but after reading this I know it's not a matter of what us as fans want, but what is the best for you and your family. I wish you the best in everything that you do. I hope we get to see the familiar Baron of the Bald at the stadium again soon. Only time will tell, I suppose.

    Thank you for the memories Vinny. I will never forget them.

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  30. Great stuff. A few questions? Can I still but a baldvinnyshirt online? And are you gonna go to a few games per year? Like a few special appearances?

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  31. Having never met you, only conversing through Twitter and Facebook with you, your words brought tears to my eyes. You are truly one of the faces of the Yankees as we know it. Yes, they have the big names on the field every year but you are OUR face. The face of the die-hards. That, my friend, is the plain and simple truth. You are the epitomy of everything the organization represents. Total class. I am grateful to be acquainted with you. Best wishes my friend.

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  32. This is hard because as a Yankee fan, there is no substitute for bald vinny. As someone who has to put down the remote when the game ends and get back to the world outside of Yankee baseball, I understand. It's not just about roll call - I do however, believe your voice should be taped and used over a loudspeaker or something - it's about so much more. God, I haven't felt so crappy since Pettitte retired.

    Core 5 - Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Pettitte and the one and only, baron of the bald- Vinny!

    Best of luck Vinny,
    Christine

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  33. As a Red Sox fan, I definitely hope that you can find a way to continue doing what you love at Yankee Stadium. Baseball is what it is because of fans like you. Good luck to you and your family with everything.

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  34. Vinny,

    I wish you the best of luck in your next venture whatever that may be! I am sure you will be greatly missed in many ways, from your "voice" for Roll call to you selling shirts.....but I am I happy to call you my friend so best of luck to you ang your family!!

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  35. Shame to see you go. I was just finding out about you and the Creatures and was starting to really get into it. Was very excited when I was in the bleachers last year and participated in the roll call for the first time. Good luck with everything, and hopefully I'll get to meet you at the stadium some day.

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  36. ...Not gonna give Up On ya just yet Vin, Q? have you Looked into (PPC & Using QR Codes for some advance growth in Sales???) Just Spit Balling Ova Here, InBox Me...if you have. Thanx, Semper Fi

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  37. I sat in section 203 for my first Yankee game and every home game after that. You define the spirit of a Yankees fan and you will be truly missed.

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  38. good luck vinny sad to see you go, you will be missed.

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  39. Vinny, let me start by saying that I am totally heartbroken over your situation. I wish you all that's good for you and your family. I still am hoping someone will offer you an opportunity that will allow you to continue your business. Will you still have the online store? you are so creative and your shirts are so different from all that is out there, it would be everyone's loss if you had to stop your creations. I wish you the best. HUGE HUG!!

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  40. Failed? Are you crazy Vinny? You don't know me but I know you. How is that failure? There is a reason that the only place I sit at the stadium when I go a handful of times is section 203, it's you. The die hard fan doesn't know Yankee Stadium until he's seen you. You're making the right choice because whether you realize it or not, you hit a homerun. You might not have gotten rich off the business and there may be some bumps ahead but you have changed the lives and experiences of hundreds of thousands of fans. I'm sad to see you go and if I had the investment money to put up front, you'd have it by now. Good Luck Vinny and hopefully you haven't done TOO much damage to your voice. You will NOT be forgotten, trust me.

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  41. Bald Vinny,

    Thanks for writing that. I know it wasn't easy. I also know doing what you've done for the creatures and Yankee fans everywhere, also wasn't easy. But we all thank you. You've made us proud. I tell you often, you are a part of the Yankees Franchise. We know it, they know it, and I hope you know it as well.

    I can respect a man wanting to provide for his family, but it is going to suck not seeing you at games.

    As you know I share the passion for the Yankees as you do, so I think I can speak on that passion a little. That passion doesn't die. You are who you are, and you, are a Bleacher Creature.

    I fully expect you to get on your feet, take care of your family and "move on" for now.

    I know that passion will still burn in you, and i'm not sure in what capacity, but I have a strong feeling, you'll be back!!

    Thanks again for everything!!!

    Go Yankees!

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  42. MickeyThurman715Oct 10, 2011, 7:41:00 PM

    Vinny you are truly an icon.Kids all over my neighborhood are talking about "roll call guy" not coming back.Your impact is incredible. I ran a boys and girls club and when we would take the kids down to the stadium they would be more excited about roll call than they were the game. Good luck in whatever you choose to do in life and always know in your heart that you made the game of baseball enjoyable not only for the kids in my neighborhood but i would venture to say kids all over the world

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  43. Vinnie I first met you in section 39 I have a picture of the 2 of us laughing at whatever.It was when Jeter hit his one and only grand slam. I got to do the roll call as l watched you had a great time.Then when I went on Twitter I am the girl who did not know who CGRAND14 was, and you said I can't believe you know who bald vinnie is but not Granderson. The last time I saw you was on 6/24/11 I stopped at the stand to say hello introduced you to my daughter. Bottom line to all this is I and many other's will understand.Family always comes first- BUT YOU WILL BE MISSED. DESIRE

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  44. Don't Quit yet! Keep working towards your goal!

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  45. I don't know you Vinny and living on the other side of the world (New Zealand) I wasn't really preparing to, but after following you on twitter and learning about the Bleacher Creatures I feel as if I do know some part of you. I was lucky enough to spend some time in New York in 1998 were I became a Yankee fan so I can understand how difficult it will be to walk away. It was always great hearing you and the rest of the Creatures on TV it kind of made me feel as if I were there too. I hope that you do find some way of carrying on your business with your pleasure as the world needs more people with real heart.

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  46. Johnny_khaos says....
    BV. when I bring my daughter to the BX, we will have a ticket waiting on u. I can't imagine sitting in the 203 without u! Ur never too high above us "outta towners" to respond to a dumb tweet and u never too low to show ur true self. Ur dedication to The Team is legendary. I wear your gear with pride! And I'm the type that HATES branded apparel.

    I wish u only the best in life and in business. If u wanna sell shit outta state, lemme know. All proceeds go to Layla! And if ur ever in Houston (why, I have no idea) lets grab a bite and a game... Creatures for Life!

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  47. Dear Vinny,
    I have had the pleasure of meeting you briefly only once..But all the passion and pride you have for the Yankees was so evident, and contagious. It is burned in my memory and my heart forever!
    I wish you the best, and hope that your decision makes you and your family happy in every way.
    My Dad practically raised me in the Bleachers of the old stadium, Hell I had never seen the front of the stadium till i was almost 20 :) When I returned for a last game before I moved out of state, I had an amazing experience cheering along with the Creatures!
    Even now that I catch all my games on Internet or Yes when I get with a friend that has DirectTV..the sound of the Bleacher Creature Roll Call brings back fond memories :)
    Thanks for all you have done ...for the other folks in the section and all the fund raising you have done.. GOOD LUCK...You will forever be a "TRUE YANKEE LEGEND" in my book :)
    ALLY SCALZO

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  48. Vinny, I met you about 2 yrs ago. It was actually your moms birthday. I met your mom in the bathroom near your tshirt stand. she is an awesome person and the apple doesn't fall far as they say. anyway, please dont ever feel that you have failed. You gave.. 10000% Im not kidding either.. You have a beautiful, supporting wife and a lovely family. You do what you have to do. DO NOT EVER THINK YOU FAILED!!! I know it will be hard to walk away from the bleachers and yankee stadiu, but follow your heart. Your family is the most important part of your life. Im sure they are your life.. Be proud of what you have accomplished being the leader of the bleacher creatures.. and more proud of the wonderful son, husband and father you are. I wish you nothing but the best!! YOU WILL BE TRULY MISSED!! I can't imagine going to a game and not seeing you. and personally I dont think the role call should continue. Thats a bald vinny thing!! it might have been there before you, but it SHOULDN'T be there until, if and when, down the road you decided to come back. Good luck, my fellow creature..
    thank you.
    ps.. i hope your website is still up and running. I want to order more stuff.. need another scarf..
    hugs..
    Jackie

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  49. Vinnie,
    I have never met you but I have followed your lead in roll call many times. I never wanted to bother you but always wished I had because true passionate fans are becoming fewer and farther between. I have a partial plan in the upper deck, as a college student, it's the best I can afford (would love to do full season in RF Bleachers), and even up in the grand stand there are tons of people not paying attention to the game, even at critical moments. But I didn't come on here to gripe.

    I'm a math major and my concentration is in economics. If you think I can help you in anyway, please let me know. I am excellent at optimization problems (max profit/min cost given demand and supply constraints). I know you are giving up this business, but maybe one in the future. You have brought my father and I much joy during roll call. When we go to games he'll only sit in 204/203/202 with the real fans. He actually sat in 39 at the old stadium during the 1978 world series. I did my first roll call during the 1999 ALCS vs. Boston which he took me to and it was something I'll never forget.

    I know you have already thought of this most likely but I had another idea that could help you. I thought that perhaps you can license the players names and mass produce the players shirts instead of going after the whole team. It's just a thought, I know the Yankees are a big corporation.

    Hit me up on twitter if you think I can help you.

    SCnyy24 (I am following you on twitter already)

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  50. A remember a double header years ago when it was just you, one other guy and myself in the bleachers doing the role for the first game. I made the decision to stop going to as many games last year. For a while I was going to 40+ games a year then I had to think about my wife and kids. The season ticket plan became too much and I found myself selling more tickets once we moved to the new stadium. This was the first year in over 15 years I did not go to a game. It just wasn't the same going to the new stadium by myself. Getting out of work hopping on the path from Jersey to the D train. So much time I did not have with my family. Good luck Bunny I hope everything works out well for you. I still wear the first bleachers creature shirt I purchased from you years ago. When I do make a trip back next year if you happen to be there I will stop by and say hello. Enjoy your time with your family, every moment is precious. Eddie Cabrera

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  51. Ok my spell check changed Vinny to bunny. Isn't technology great! Eddie Cabrera

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  52. Vinny

    Two seasons ago I was sitting in the 100 level seats 3rd base I ran into Freddie Sez and heard roll call being chanted. Since that day I've sat in 203, not a regular by any stretch of the imagination but have participated in a dozen or so roll calls. There is only one section to sit in and that section has you. I had the pleasure of meeting your wife and kids on your birthday. You are making the right decision. Someone in the front office needs to wake up and realize that you are the heart and soul of the Yankees fan if they don't find a position for you they are more foolish than I already believe. The best of luck to you I hope to chant with you leading roll call soon. All my best wishes and "shut up suzyn".

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  53. It was great to know you over these past few years, from the Creature trip to SF to ordering stuff from you at Steiner. Your like a brother to me. God Bless... My phone is always on you you bro.

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  54. Michael @hokiesfan4NYYOct 11, 2011, 1:10:00 AM

    Within 1 year of each other Yankees Stadium has lost it's 2 biggest and most recognizable fans. While Yankee Stadium is losing/lost them in different ways, Freddy Sez and Bald Vinny will live on in Yankees Stadium forever! We will miss you, but won't forget you!

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  55. Will never forget my 1st yankee game at yankee stadium, got tickets in 203 just because true fans and the roll call, even tho it was not a historical game, it was in my eyes by being part of roll call and you leading, I thank you and wish you the best of luck but like the saying goes "Family First"

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  56. Dude. What's next? Is Posada going to retire? Jeter? Mo? It's the inevitible (and sometimes depressing reality we've all had to face... Getting older sucks. You may or may not remember me.. I spent the better part of the late 90's/early 00's studying in the bleachers. Some of the best nights of my life were spent there. But then residency took me out of New York, and after the relocation debacle I was shut out of the section I loved, and instead now sit in "The Jump Zone" (section 205), the dreaded box seats we used to hurl epithets at. But it's as close as the Yankee ticket people could get me. But there has always been something comforting knowing that you and the rest of the crew were still there, even if I was a lone outpost singing YRU Gay, not doing the wave, Hip Hip You're gay, or Where you going?. People have interesting opinions Creatures. What I took from my years in section 39 was what a cross section of society it is. I think people were quite surprised when I told them the various professionals that made up the crew. Anyway, I wish you success with your plan and hope to look over the rail and see you sitting in 203 at least a few times next year.

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  57. I was a d plan holder in section 41 in the old building and you honestly provided me with some of my favorite memories from the old building. I can't hear the YMCA without looking for a rival fan to point and and sing "our version" to. You were the unquestioned leader of the roll call. We'd all be clapping for the first pitch then you'd quiet everyone down and get started. I appreciate everything you've done over the past 10 years and wish you nothing but the best

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  58. Vinnie..your post actually brought tears to my eyes!! I can't imagine roll call without you leading the way. I'm sure we all understand, though, that you need to do what is right for your family. It's admirable that you have made this very difficult decision, because you can tell that Yankees fans are also part of your "family". I've had the pleasure of meeting you several times outside of Yankee Stadium, and I always wear my Bleacher Creature tshirts with pride!! I wish you nothing but the best Vinnie, and please know that you will be missed!!!

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  59. As you know it's a 3.5 to 4 hour trip for me to the Stadium and so unfortunately I only make a handful of games a year. For years I've come and stood with 40-50,000 other people who I didn't know. That was until I "met" you on Twitter and then in person on River Ave. You helped make my trip to the Bronx each time a little better because at least I knew someone.

    I'm not sure how you found me, but I was one of the very first people you followed on Twitter and for some reason you've kept reading my crap ever since. Thanks!

    Admittedly before I met you I knew a little bit about roll call but had limited other knowledge about the Bleacher Creatures. It was nice to learn about a great part of the Yankee tradition. More importantly, I was invited to 203 any time and made to feel welcome each time. People would introduce themselves and it was simply fun to be there.

    I sincerely believe everything happens for a reason. I have no idea why this is, cause it sucks. I've been to a game when you didn't do roll call (which we can't discuss) and it just isn't the same.

    Having said that, I have nothing but respect for you and what you are doing for your beautiful family. Anyone that questions that should be beat down.

    In closing, I'm not sure when our paths will cross again in person. Heading to the Bronx won't be quite the same without having a friend to visit on River Ave.

    Best of luck in whatever you hope to take on. I'm sure you'll do it with the same dedication as you have the past 10 years.

    Best wishes, my friend.

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  60. Vinny - Good luck with the future. I will miss hearing the Roll Call from my couch all the way up in Toronto. All the best and Go Yankees!

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  61. It's a sad day for those of us who looked at those Roll Call videos and thought "man, i want to experience that just once". I was fortunate enough to be in 203 once (Mets 09 when Castillo dropped it) - from someone used to Scottish football stadiums, that was one of the most incredible sports experiences i've ever had!

    But everyone needs to look out for them & theirs, it's a crying shame that one of the most recognisable faces has called time - but do so knowing that you're doing what's best for your family. That's the most important thing in this life, doing what's best for you and i wish you well in doing so. hey, i'm willing to bet theres a business somewhere that could use someone with passion & drive - and probably someone who can foghorn with the best of them!

    Take it easy Vinny and don't fear, i'm sure there will be someone in the bleachers in 2012 to keep the most passionate fans in sport marching to the same drum - and the thanks of many a "casual" creature from around the world goes with you.

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  62. From one Bald Vinny to another, I respect your decision and tenacity following your dream, but I understand your decisions as a husband and father. As a Bronx native and Yankee fan it seems only natural to see & hear you at every game. I have met you and sat near you guys at many games in both stadiums, and you can't be a real fan without experiencing the creatures first hand. I wish you the best in your future endeavours. I'm sure we haven't HEARD the last of Bald Vinny. God Bless.

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  63. Thank you Vinny. Please don't view this as a failure. It's just time to turn the page and move on. Best of luck to you and your family.

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  64. I'm a middle aged life long Yankees fan living in the middle of Iowa. The reason I want to make that point, is that I know who you are. Not personally, but I know that the persona of "Bald Vinny" is the driving force behind the Bleacher Creatures as well as the world famous roll call. That is an amazing feat considering you spent absolutely no money on advertising in my area. The Yankees should recognize the marketing potential of yourself and the Bleacher Creature brand name and run with it. I have puchased shirts from your stand on vacations to the park and proudly wear them. In this time of million dollar athletes souring the public opinion on baseball, the Yankees would do themselves a huge public relations favor by "picking up" your line as well as you for their corporation. Good luck Vinny and I hope to see you back in section 203 next year. Joe Dennis, Des Moines, Iowa

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  65. I dreaded reading this for days.
    While I DO FULLY EXPECT roll call to continue, the torch being passed, it'll give us Die Hards a sneak peak into that very sad day when there's a new closer; a new shortstop. It's just not going to be easy to not hear Bald Vinny at the top of every first.
    God bless you and your beautiful family.

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  66. I can only imagine how hard it is to even think about re-focusing on other paths - I won't say "giving up" as you aren't, just being realistic in what you can achieve given external factors. I have nothing but respect for what you have achieved and how hard you work. I live in Amsterdam, but I make it to Yankee stadium at least 15 times a year, plus some away games, and the fans are the major part of that experience and the Creatures are a big part of that vibe in the stadium. I know you will be missed by the non-corporate types, as shown by all the love commented above, but I believe the intangible verve you bring to the game will be noticed by all, and for that I pity the suits and their blinkered thinking.
    Respect and best wishes.

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  67. Beautifully written..i fully understand your decision and wish there was a different solution..Yankee games wont be the same! Kerry

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  68. As hard of a decision this may have been, it's a no-brainer. You've done the right thing and made sure your family comes first.

    As someone in a similar situation running a small WordPress Marketing Firm in AZ, I too struggle with similar decisions at times, but it always comes back to family first. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

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  69. Hey Vinny I don't think you failed. You just fell on hard times, meaning economy went to shit and would be investors felt the need to hold on to their money and not to give money to the little business that needs it most to help support a family and try to live the American dream... I still have my first bleacher creature shirt framed in my basement..good luck to you Vinny in all your future comings
    Sincerely
    Adam

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  70. I'm so sorry to hear about this, Vinny, but perhaps one of the reasons why the Yankees organization hasn't endorsed your product line is because of how "vulgar" some of your products (T-shirts) are? I do hope that perhaps the NYY Organization will recognize your talents and offer you something else if it's not to endorse the Bleacher Creature brand. Good luck and God speed.

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  71. Love u vinny. U will be missed but nit forgot. Ure a Yankee legend. Box seat will always suck. Bleachers rule.

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  72. Focus on the positives. You had a successful business and passion that drove you. You will find the next thing you are supposed to do.

    Failure is only a state of mind. You succeeded in going as far as you could go under the circumstances. Nothing wrong with that.

    As always Box seats suck.
    E

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  73. Best of luck, Vinny. Remember this: NOTHING comes before your family. You're making the right call.

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  74. Game day is up and almost everyone in America is tuning in to catch their favorite teams' matches. If you're green like me, then check out these useful tips on how to green your game day. I found this video tips on YouTube. http://youtu.be/bXCTr8b_FxA

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  75. You will be missed Vinny. ALOT! Good luck to you and your family. This is a sad day for yankee fans.......

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  76. Best of luck Vinny! You'll be missed at the Stadium, but you're making the right move. Stand up family man!!

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  77. Vinny,

    After reading your post, I am reminded of something another bald man once said about his career...

    "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." ~ Michael Jordan

    If it wasn't for his failures, he would never have succeeded as he did. The same applies to our beloved Yankees. Out of 103 World Series that have been played, the Yankees have 'failed' to make it 63 times. Out of the remaining 40 appearances the Yankees made in the World Series, they 'failed' to win it 13 times.

    Yet our beloved Yankees are still the GREATEST TEAM IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME.

    And you, Vinny, are one of the greatest Bleacher Creatures and will remain so forever.

    Although I am deeply saddened that you may not be there next season, I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors knowing you made the right decision to support your family.

    -Tom

    P.S. I have some connections with people in the apparel industry if you are still considering licensing options outside of the organization.

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  78. as a yankee fan growing up 20 blocks away from the stadium, me and my friends in the bx will miss you because you ARE us, live and die with everything that happens, and wake up the next day to do it again.you brought to the table what a true fan is all about. i wish nothing but the best for you.

    the yankees should offer you some type of position within the organization. although they should, they probably will not, thinking you already made money off the yankee brand. look what they did with those avis commericals, drink ads etc. did they contact you? anyone you know?? they dont care. when i was younger, there were guys i knew in the bx who were offered positions with the yankees through the inside. you might not have met the exact qualifications, but they knew that you would show up every single day to the job you love and the passion that drives you (yankees!) nowadays, its all corporate,buttoned up. guys who run the yankees - half didn't even grow up in ny, probably not yankee fans and just look at the numbers. nobody gives anyone a chance, and it reflects on the outside on how the yankees conduct business with the fans and now the type of "fans" that are filling the seats. the yankees are more of a novelty now, and the stadium the play in is basically a museum with a baseball field inside of it. you can tell how much they care about the "small" fan who cant afford to pay $1,000 per ticket by how they built some of the bleacher seats. (some seats you cant see the whole field beacuse the yankees just has to build a sports bar that you have to PAY ADDITONAL to get in - WTF???)

    you should forget the yankees, much like they will be quick to forget you. move on to a new venture, but you should absolutely stick with your current business as well. just keep thinking BIG. Never give up.

    best of luck to you and your family

    mike

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  79. Best of luck to you and your family Vinny! Glad I had the pleasure of meeting you on a few occasions...you are an inspiration to the die hard fans who pass up cushy seats for the hard aluminum of the bleachers! God bless!

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  80. I wish you the best with whatever you end up doing. I had season tickets with the A's for years, and then gave it all up to move to Colorado and get married and have a beautiful little girl. As much as I thought I would never get over my dedication and passion for going to 81 games a year, I wouldn't trade anything for the family and life I have now. No - my livelihood didn't depend on the games and the fans, but it was my social life and support network.

    I still go to games now in Colorado, and I still love the A's, but I know in the end I made the right choice.

    I wish you the best.

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  81. This post just about broke my heart, Vinny. Of course you must do what is right for your wonderful family. But Yankee fans all over will miss you so. It sure is a shame that after all you have done at the Stadium for all these years, "you get no respect!" I sit in 105 and I don't even mind when you say I suck, LOL, because I enjoy you, the Bleacher Creatures' roll call and your products so much. Perhaps over the off season, something will change. If not, God Bless and Godspeed to you. Jill

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  82. Seems to me your choise is between you making sacrifices for your family or your family making sacrifices for you.
    If you reread your post as if you were a stranger and not the author, it does sound as though you are looking for some kind of hand out from the Yankees.
    Also, the Yankees have always prided themselves as being a 'class orginazation', they even banned "Boston Sucks" Tshirts from being worn in the Stadium, so why would they want to affiliate themselves with a small business that sells Tshirts with a saying that is one step worse than just "Boston Sucks"?

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  83. Nobody will dispute the fact that you are a fan, loyal and passionate. But you're contradicting yourself by saying you want nothing to do with Moddell fans and the behind the plate tix holders... and then say you want to associate yourself with the Yankee organization. Open yourself up Vinny to this larger fan base. Become the link between fans and the org. You are the best vehicle to do so... But having tees saying "...and punch a Boston fan in the face" or "Boston Sucks C" won't get you anywhere.
    The dream isn't a dream. It could totally happen, you just need to adjust your hardcore approach.
    Good luck man.

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  84. Saddened to read this ...
    You will be missed; hopefully one of the other regulars will step up so we all can cheer on...
    i will still place a order for the most prized shirts in my collection...
    box seats suck...

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  85. hey vinnie i never met you came in twice to see the boys from out of state i'm the biggest yankee fan in michigan beside jeter's family . I'm so Happy i got to experince roll call at the house ruth built to me it was as good as drinking from the stanley cup which i have done a few times . Family is first you built a house for your family the yankees will always be there who knows maybe one of your children will follow in your foot steps . take care vinnie tony in michigan

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  86. "forced to walk away"? It's all a matter of the choices we make. So you are making a different one. Good luck.

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  87. "BALD-VINey...BALD-VINny...BALD-VINey" Thanks kid, Yanks forever!!!

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