Saturday, November 08, 2008

R.I.P. Tuba Man

Just today I learned that The Tuba Man died a few days back as a result of a vicious attack by five teens near a Seattle bus stop. He was 53.

If you've been to a Seattle sports event, you've heard and seen Tuba Man. He was absolutely a fixture, playing his tuba outside the stadium. He had a spot near the Kingdome and another spot within the niches of Safeco Field's exterior, just on the west side of the ballpark along First Avenue. In the crowds leaving a game, it was easy to hear those notes coming up. His fan-dom was legendary. I remember going to a ballgame completely unmemorable except that it was Randy Johnson's last day as a Mariner. He was dealt at the trade deadline that night--was yanked out of the dugout, in fact, during the game--but nobody in the crowd knew to whom. As I headed out to the bus, I passed Tuba Man playing a sad tuba tune before stopping to say "That's for Randy." He seemed to really mean it.

To be honest, he actually weirded me out a little bit, and although he's played tuba in a couple of orchestras, I never cared much for his music, either...I'm not a tuba fan, and I think his instrument may have been a little old and worn from decades of outdoor busking, as I felt like I could hear clanking metal more than the deep tuba sound. Still, I can't imagine going to a Mariner game without that sound. It says Mariner baseball to me almost as much as the crack of the bat, Tom Hutyler's voice, the "I-Chi-ro!" and "EHHHHHD-GRRRRRRR!" chants, or "O-Bla-Di, O-Bla-Da" escorting me to the exits after yet another M's loss...Paul McCartney's piano fading out as I go down the stadium stairs, and Tuba Man's sounds fading in as I head out to the bus, shaking my head in amazement at how he's there absolutely every night. I wasn't a fan, and yet I'm mourning his loss.

One of my favorite blog posts my wife has ever written says the following:

I don't think we give enough credit to the nameless people who play an important part of our daily lives. We've all got these people in our lives, it's just a matter of identifying them.


Indeed. Tuba Man was not a friend, nor even an acquaintance, but he has unquestionably been in the fabric of the last dozen years of my life...and now he's gone at the hands of a gang of sadistic punks.

Safeco Field is a little quieter now. I'll think of you after games quite often, Tuba Man. Thank you for being a quirky, fun, nameless extra in quite a few great moments in my life.

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