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Bluff The Listener

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BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Maz Jobrani, Karen Chee and Josh Gondelman. And here again is your host. You know him from - well, when I introduced him 10 minutes ago - Peter Sagal.

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PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Bill. Right now, it is time for the Wait Wait... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.

Hi, you are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

ROY KAUFMANN: Hey. This is Roy from Oregon. How are you?

SAGAL: I'm fine, Roy. How are you?

KAUFMANN: I'm wonderful. It's sunny here, which is a new thing for us.

KURTIS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Yes. What do you do there?

KAUFMANN: I'm the director of public relations for Lewis and Clark College in Portland.

SAGAL: Lewis & Clark College - I know it well. Have you guys been all remote this last year with your...

KAUFMANN: No, actually. We've been in person with sort of hybrid options for faculty and students.

SAGAL: Oh, yeah. And have you been on campus, or have you been at home?

KAUFMANN: No, I've been sequestering myself.

SAGAL: I understand. Well, Roy, it's nice to have you on the show. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what's Roy's topic?

KURTIS: Go sports.

KAUFMANN: How perfect.

MAZ JOBRANI: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Being a fan isn't just about the basic stuff like cheering, wearing team colors and slashing the tires of the other team's bus. This week, we read about somebody who went above and beyond for their team. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

KAUFMANN: Oh, I was born to play.

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Josh Gondelman.

JOSH GONDELMAN: So we've all heard about basketball teams going on a hot streak, but what about their fans? That's exactly what Miami Heat supporters Milton (ph), Morton (ph), Martin (ph) and Miguel (ph), all age 78, have done for years.

(LAUGHTER)

GONDELMAN: The Fort Lauderdale residents chose to withhold their last names because they are all still practicing dermatologists. But since the Heat entered the NBA in 1988, this quartet had until recently enjoyed every road game by listening on the radio while sitting in a local steam room, a tradition they called a listen and a schwitzin' (ph).

Because of the advanced age of the foursome, a two-and-a-half-hour steam isn't just relaxing - it also dehydrates the men to the point of hallucination that is not unlike the experience of taking magic mushrooms. It allows them to not only feel like they're at the game, but as if they're part of a singular consciousness playing in the games as well. Although their families suspect at this point their excursions aren't as much about basketball at all - these guys just like tripping their fully nude butts off. I once saw the face of God in Milton's chest hair, said Morton, kind of proving that point.

Now that they're fully vaccinated, the four friends are back at the bathhouse, cheering their team on. And emblazoned across their newly printed custom towels is the name of their clique - the Miami Humidity.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Four old men who schwitz (ph) to the Heat in Miami. Your next story of an extreme afficionado comes from Karen Chee.

KAREN CHEE: Greta Park (ph), an eccentric 80-year-old woman living in Millbrae, Calif., has been a fan of the Millbrae Shakers her whole life. The Shakers are, of course, the legendary local foosball team and running champion of the Northern California Foosball League. But as you probably know, foosball requires players to be right up next to each other, and it's just not COVID-safe.

So after months of missing the game, Greta took action. She purchased a local private park, paid a team of developers to create a soccer field-sized version of a foosball table, complete with mannequins on long rods. And now Park hosts a game every weekend with actual human players standing far apart wearing masks, running back and forth between giant knobs.

They say, quote, "it's so nice to do this outside," and, quote, "I liked foosball better when it wasn't exercise." Greta's giant creation can only be described as the most dystopian soccer game you've ever seen.

JOBRANI: (Laughter).

SAGAL: A foosball fan creates a life-sized table so that it can be played with social distance. Your last story of a sports super-fan comes from Maz Jobrani.

JOBRANI: Some fans show up early to games to watch their favorite players warm up. Other fans wait after the game in hopes of getting an autograph. But one fan moved into the stadium. That's the story of Tom Garvey, resident of a concession stand in left field at the Vets Stadium in Philadelphia from 1979 to 1981. Garvey was working as a parking supervisor when the pope visited the stadium. And at the end of the day, everybody was so tired and a little drunk they just slept in an empty concession stand.

The next day, one of his friends said to Garvey, oh, man - could you imagine if you could just stay here all the time? Turns out he could. He furnished the stand/apartment with furniture from an Eagles player who was traded away and a carpet made of leftover Astroturf from the field and moved in. He would have halftime parties with his buddies and afterparties with the players. Sometimes he smoked dope in the dugouts and roller-skated around the empty concourse after everybody had left.

His favorite thing to do, though, was wander out during a game late into the night in his bathrobe and a cup of coffee. Where did he get the coffee? People would ask. He never told.

SAGAL: OK. One of these is the true story of extreme sports fandom we read in the news this week. Was it, from Josh Gondelman, the Miami Humidity, four men who like to get together, schwitz and hallucinate while listening to Miami Heat games; from Karen, a woman who loved foosball so much she created a life-sized table in a park so they could play it while staying at a safe distance; or from Maz, a man who loved the Veterans Stadium in Philly so much he moved into it for three years? Which of these was the real story we found in the news?

KAUFMANN: I truly wish all of them could be true because I love all of them so much. But I'm going to go with Maz Jobrani's story.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Maz Jobrani's story of the guy who lived in Veterans Stadium. All right. Well, we spoke to a person at the center of this story.

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THOMAS GARVEY: An opportunity came up for me to live inside the stadium. And I did this for about two years and three months.

SAGAL: That was Thomas Garvey, the man who lived in Veterans Stadium...

KAUFMANN: Oh, wonderful.

SAGAL: ...And recently wrote a book, "Secret Apartment," about his experience. Congratulations, Roy. You got it right. You earned a point for Maz. You've won our prize, the voice of your choice on your voicemail.

KAUFMANN: Amazing. What an honor. Thank you so much for letting me play.

SAGAL: The honor was ours. Thanks so much.

KAUFMANN: All right.

SAGAL: Take care.

GARVEY: Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF MATTHEW KAMINSKI'S "TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME REPRISE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.