After numerous submissions from terrific fans across the globe, the 2016 FanSided Fan of the Year contest has been decided.
We here at FanSided are proud to reveal that San Francisco Giants fan, Dave Edlund, has been named the second-annual FanSided Fan of the Year.
Due to winning this prestigious award, Edlund will be heading to New York City to attend the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year event in Manhattan on Dec. 12. Last year, it was Buffalo superfan Dennis Gleason who won, showcasing his passion for teams in western New York.
We would certainly like to thank everyone that participated in the event, both contestants and those who voted. Edlund won the ultimate prize, though, and will be featured in an upcoming Sports Illustrated magazine for his fandom. You can read all of the semi-finalists profiles here.
Check out our winner’s story below:
Dave Edlund loves baseball. His favorite way to enjoy the national pastime? With a radio in one hand and a kayak paddle in the other.
Edlund, 60, is enjoying early retirement. After making his career at Hewlett Packard, the Oakland, CA native has made McCovey Cove his part-time job, fishing baseballs out of the China Basin. Having followed the San Francisco Giants since the summer of 1963, Edlund is committed to the team and the sport. He’s now living out his childhood dream of listening to baseball on a warm summer’s night without a care.
Edlund has been attending Giants games since 1967. The first time he watched a game in person, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron both hit home runs, spawning a love of the long ball inside of him. Combined with his mom’s love of baseball and his father’s passion for kayaking, the combination was a match made in San Francisco heaven.
“I listen to the games on McCovey Cove,” Edlund said. The young people don’t have patience to do it, but that’s natural for me. Plus, the radio is a live feed. So when the announcers say the balls going deep to right, I know I have about five seconds before the ball hits the water.”
The statement speaks to the seriousness in which the two-time Freedive Spearfishing national champion approaches his baseball-catching craft. Since AT&T Park opened in 2000, there have been 148 baseballs hit into the water, with approximately 110 doing so without the aid of ricochet. Edlund has captured 28 of those home runs, 18 of which are true splash hits (no bounce).
Edlund has secured more splash hits than any other fan in history, earning the nickname “McCovey Cove Dave.” He’s lauded by the team broadcasters and right fielder Hunter Pence among others, with Pence following Edlund on Instagram.
However, getting this level of acclaim was more work than luck. Edlund has catching home runs down to a science.
“I move around depending on where the player has hit on every home run in their career,” Edlund said. “I draw a scattergram and an overlay of AT&T Park. I then look for tendencies. History tends to repeat itself. I start paddling before I see the ball. If I’m in the wrong position, I’m the first person to move in my kayak. I look at the people in the stadium with mitts because they will fight their way towards where the ball is leaving the park.”
Edlund goes to around 50 percent of the home games per season, preferring to enjoy day baseball. On weekdays, the longtime swimmer and kayaker usually faces five competitors for home runs, while the weekend presents anywhere from 20 to 50 rival kayaks.
For Edlund, the choices of which games to attend are based both on the aforementioned crowds and his data. For a man who makes an hour-long pilgrimage to the stadium from his home in Los Gatos, CA, every factor counts.
“I use statistics to figure out when the home runs are going to happen, Edlund said.” I use math as an advantage, the warmer the air temperature the more likely the home run, along with less wind. I go to most all the day games.
“All the regulars are friendly, but when a home run comes over, it’s every man for himself. It’s very competitive and I’m the most competitive. I go before the game and catch batting practice balls, and give those to the game. During the game, I’m focused. We treat it like a sport.”
For Edlund, there is more to baseball and the experience than trophies made of leather. It can be a source of healing and helping, for those going through a tough time.
“The Giants have special days each year, where they have a Cancer Awareness days at the park. I try to support different events. Pink is basically the breast is basically the breast cancer color but it’s a cancer color all can identify with. I paint baseballs pink that I’ve gotten out of McCovey Cove and when the fans come to the park, I throw them up from the cove.”
Ultimately, fandom is more than the game. It’s about enjoying the experience and enhancing it for others. In this respect, Edlund stands above the rest.