A former baseball player still leaves his mark in the Dixie State University baseball games at Bruce Hurst Field.
Wayne Eckman has been attending the DSU baseball games since he can remember. Most of the fans know him by his phrases during the baseball games, such as greeting the umps by singing “three blind umps” to the tune of the song “Three Blind Mice.” He sings that song to slyly tell the umps they aren’t going to make the right calls because they can’t see.
Norm Pakulski, another DSU baseball fan, said Eckman is the loudest and most energetic fan in the stands.
Eckman is a Dixie State baseball alumnus, as he played catcher for Dixie in the 1955-1956 season. He returns to Bruce Hurst Field for every home game and cheers on his old team — but, as some other DSU baseball players would say, in a unique way.
“I was told once by professional umpires in Salt Lake that I was the most original umpire baiter they had ever seen,” Eckman said.
He said his favorite saying is when the ump dusts off the plate. Eckman yells at the umpire during that time, “You’re a sweeping success!”
When the umpire is on the grass getting ready before the game, he says to the ump as he puts on the mask, “You don’t need that mask; you wear yours to the game.”
He says this implying the ump is already wearing a mask and to poke fun at the ump being fake.
But the fans express the most laughter when Eckman counts the cadence to the opposing coach as he walks up to the mound to have a meeting with the infielders.
“I just help [the opposing coach] get to the mound,” Eckman said.
But some of Eckmans’ chants aren’t always at the opposing coach or the umps; sometimes it’s just simply at a fly ball.
“He keeps the game interesting, and a lot of people like that,” Pakulski said.
When someone hits a fly ball he shouts, “Can of corn!”
“What does corn do when it gets hot?” Eckman said. “It pops up, so I call a pop up a can of corn.”
Ed and Lu Fischer, a couple that has attended baseball games for the past decade, said Eckman and his baseball buddy Vic VanOostendorp, who recently won an award for being one of the most loyal fans for Dixie athletics, would pester the umps together.
“Arizona Christian University came here, and we beat them bad in two doubleheaders, and the whole time I was having a hay-day with the opposing coach and with the team,” Eckman said.
He said toward the end of the game, the opposing coach came up and handed him a baseball and on it was written, “Wayne, thanks for the entertainment.”
“So I went down to the dugout and said, ‘I thought I was annoying you?’” Eckman said.
Eckman said the Arizona Christian University coach replied, “Oh no, you were the highlight of our trip to St. George.”
He said the coaches continued on to tell him that he knows his baseball and he knows what he is talking about when it comes to the game.
“Overall, I enjoy being to the ball game to have alot of fun — whether it’s at the expense of the umpires or coaches is not a concern,” Eckman said.
He said the umps come to have fun, too, and they know who he is. He said they enjoy his presence — sometimes.
But Eckman said overall he is just simply a baseball fan.
“My love for baseball — it is the greatest,” Eckman said.