Ronnie Woo Woo

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Ronnie Woo Woo in 2008

Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers (born October 31, 1941[1]) is a longtime Chicago Cubs fan and local celebrity in the Chicago area. He is known to Wrigley Field visitors for his idiosyncratic cheers at baseball games, generally punctuated with an exclamatory "Woo!" (e.g., "Cubs, woo! Cubs, woo! Big-Z, woo! Zambrano, woo! Cubs, woo!") Longtime Cubs announcer Harry Caray dubbed Wickers "Leather Lungs" for his ability to shout for hours at a time.[2]

Author Lonnie Wheeler on page 78 of his best-selling 1988 book Bleachers - A Summer In Wrigley Field wrote, "Wickers, a snaggletoothed, perambulating black man, had been showing up faithfully in the Wrigley Field bleachers for nearly twenty years. He had no apparent means to purchase tickets - it was said he slept on a cardboard box in an alley - but often received them from generous players like Billy Williams. Ronnie was a fixture in the bleachers, a friendly, visible figure in unclean clothes, a populist hero to some and a worthless annoyance to others. Elsie hated hin. The old gamblers used to throw things at him. None of the regulars thought much of him, really - he was more of a tourist attraction - but they had nonetheless become concerned about him. He hadn't shown up at the ballpark all year, and there were rumors. One was that the Cubs had made him unwelcome. The most recent rumor was that he had been killed on the streets over the winter."

Wickers grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Born premature and abused by his mother, he was raised by his grandmother, who brought him to his first Chicago Cubs games during the late 1940s.[3] Wickers explained in a 2004 Chicago Tribune interview that he started "wooing" in 1958 or 1959. "It just came to be. I had fun with it," he remarked.[1] He has remained a fixture at Wrigley Field ever since, even singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during a May 24, 2001 game.[4] In 2005, filmmaker Paul Hoffman released a documentary film about Wickers, called WooLife. The film premiered at the Chicago Historical Society.[3]

Wickers worked nights as a custodian at Northwestern University for much of his life. After the death of both his grandmother and girlfriend in the 1980s, a distraught Wickers found himself homeless and without a stable job.[5] From 1984 to 1990, he attended Cubs games with donated tickets.[2] Wickers was absent at Wrigley Field games for a brief period in 1987, which prompted some Cubs fans to worry that he had died. He eventually contacted news organizations to say that he was alive and well.[6] Since 1990, most of Wickers' income has come from washing windows in the neighborhood around Wrigley Field. He also makes paid appearances at parties and has starred in local commercials.[1] In 2000, two Wrigleyville bar owners organized a much-publicized fundraiser to provide Wickers with a new pair of dentures.[3]

Wickers was treated and released from Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical center after being hit by a car after a Cubs game on April 18, 2005. He has since recovered. [7]

As of 2014, Ronnie is still attending Cubs games, taking pictures with fans and tourists alike.


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Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Hageman, William (27 February 2004). "A Fan in Winter". Chicago Tribune. 
  2. ^ a b Kelly, Maura (28 May 2001). "'Leather Lungs' a hit at Wrigley, wooing fans with schtick and song". Boston Globe. 
  3. ^ a b c Hoekstra, Dave (1 April 2005). "Woo Who". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  4. ^ Rapoport, Ron (24 May 2001). "Like it or not, Ronnie represents Cubs spirit". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  5. ^ Carroll, Jeff (3 March 2005). Northwest Indiana Times.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Cubs get their fan". New York Times. 28 May 2007. 
  7. ^ Konkol, Mark (April 19, 2005). "Car hits 'Woo Woo,' leaves him with boo-boo". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 18. 

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