Digital Video: Agents Corrigan, Todd
Digital Photography: Agents Corrigan, Todd, MRobertson
Mission Idea: Agent Lathan
Starring: Agent Lathan as “Rob”

A group of performers from the UCB Theatre got together to see the Yankees/Tigers game on Wednesday, August 30th. A few weeks before the game, Agent Lathan approached me about doing a favorite prank of his at the stadium. He stumbled onto the prank by accident at Fenway Park back in 2001. After leaving his seat at Fenway to hit the concession stand, he had a difficult time finding his way back. His friends started shouting at him, trying to get his attention, and pretty quickly several strangers in the section began shouting his name as well. Agent Lathan decided to keep it going by pretending he couldn’t hear them and pretty soon the entire section was frantically yelling his name. He did the prank again at Shea Stadium in 2002 (this time on purpose) on a slightly larger scale. For the Yankee Stadium version, the goal would be to spread the prank over many sections, trying to get as many people as possible involved in bringing “Rob” back to his seat.

Unfortunately, Yankee Stadium does not allow any video cameras or backpacks; so smuggling in filming equipment would be nearly impossible. Agent Lathan decided to pull the prank anyway, even if we couldn’t film it. Fortunately several members of our group brought cameras to the game and were able to snap photos and take some footage using their camera’s “movie mode”.

Rob waited until the 6th Inning to begin his journey. After a beautiful sunset, he left our section in the right field upper deck to grab some food. He returned moments later with a large cardboard tray filled with beer and popcorn. Although he was walking in the aisle right by our group, Rob couldn’t seem to locate us. The few of us who were in on the prank from the beginning hopped up and started yelling, “Rob!!!” and waving our hands. Rob just stared past us with a vacant look on his face, neither hearing nor seeing us. The rest of our group started yelling his name as well, but no one could seem to get his attention. As he started walking back down the aisle, strangers started yelling his name as well, but he kept walking down and eventually disappeared through the tunnel.

About five minutes later Rob appeared again, this time two sections to our left.

Rob appears two sections over

Same photo, detail enlarged
Someone from our group spotted him and we all started yelling his name again. There were now two sections in between our group and Rob, so everyone in between got involved and started yelling “Rob!” trying to help out. Although the photos are a little blurry, it was actually very easy to spot Rob. He’s a tall guy, and he was wearing a very recognizable red, white, and blue shirt (much like everyone’s favorite person to spot in a crowd, “Waldo”.) Rob just kept walking up and down the stairs, looking quite pitiful with his huge platter of concessions. He disappeared again into the tunnel, and everyone sat back down. People around us were laughing and trying to figure out what was wrong with him. One guy asked me how much he Rob had had to drink. “One too many, I think,” I told him.

After another five minutes passed, Rob very quickly appeared in the section just to the left of us, the one in the middle of the two sections he had already searched. His head emerged from the tunnel and he looked around for about ten seconds before disappearing again. All three sections in our corner lept to their feet and screamed his name, but he was gone in a flash.

Rob’s quick appearance
At this point the game got pretty interesting. The Yankees had a few people on base and looked like they were about to tie the game. Yankee fans forgot about Rob and got back into the game. Pretty soon, the Tigers decided to change pitchers and this provided a nice lull for Rob to strike again. This time he appeared seven sections away. Agent Kula and I spotted him and started pointing and screaming his name as loud as we could. Very quickly the entire right field section was on their feet trying to get his attention. Rob cocked his head our way as if he could hear something, but once again disappeared into the tunnel.

Rob, seven sections down

Same photo, detail enlarged
At this point enthusiasm for helping Rob had grown so large that other groups of people were even more excited about it than we were. A group of guys sitting directly behind us began leading a series of chants as they waited for Rob to appear again. Several rounds of “WHERE IS ROB? WHERE IS ROB? WHERE IS ROB?” were followed by the somewhat cruel, “ROB’S RETARDED (CLAP CLAP, CLAP CLAP CLAP).” Several sections joined in on the chat as everyone speculated what was going on with Rob.

The leaders of the Rob-related chants
The Yankees ended up scoring three runs in the bottom of the 6th to go ahead 2 – 3. Shortly after the inning ended, Agent Kula spotted Rob on the complete opposite side of the stadium. Rob was so confused that he somehow found himself in the far most section in left field.

Rob’s friends wave at him from across the field
Word traveled quickly through the upper deck. Sections full of strangers started waving their hands at Rob, barely making out his white shirt from across the way.

View across the field

Same photo, enlarged to show Rob walking down the aisle
Rob of course couldn’t hear our yelling from the other side of the stadium. He gave up and ducked back through the tunnel after searching up and down the aisle. The 7th inning stretch provided another break from Rob spotting, but as soon it was over Rob appeared again. This time he was somehow in the lower level, right by the Yankees dugout!

Where’s Rob?

A stranger spots Rob in the lower level

Rob fans
This appearance marked Rob’s 6th attempt at finding his seats. You can track his journey on this map, with his sightings numbered. His original seat was in section 33 in the right-hand corner.

At the halfway point of the 8th inning, Rob appeared again, this time right in front of us. The upper deck erupted with cheers as everyone chanted “Rob! Rob! Rob!” and pointed towards his seat.

The section next to us right before Rob appeared.

Same section, seconds later

Fans point towards Rob’s seat

Same photo, detail enlarged

A fan gives Rob a high-five

Fans a couple of sections over cheer Rob’s return

Fans laugh as Rob finds his friends

Fans take photos of Rob
Many fans wanted a photo of Rob, and some even wanted to meet him and get their photos taken with him personally. Rob was so lost that he somehow reached celebrity status, and folks wanted to remember their encounter with him.

The photos do a good job of showing how happy everyone was to see Rob finally find his seat, but the video truly captures the roar of the crowd upon his return. This was shot by Agent Corrigan with a digital still camera on “movie mode”, the best equipment we were able to get inside the stadium.

Rob took his seat and watched the last two innings. Every few minutes people would walk up to him to say hello and snap a photo. The guys behind us started up another “Rob’s retarded” chant. Rob just smiled and waved.

The Tigers scored three runs in the 9th inning and went on to win the game. As we were leaving the stadium, Yankee fans’ spirits were lifted when they spotted Rob. As he walked down the exit ramp a huge chant broke out in his honor as fans shook his hand and gave him high fives.

So that’s my account from the upper deck. Now enjoy a first-hand account from Rob himself.

Agent Lathan, “Rob”

This mission called for something I specialize in: being LOST. Yankee Stadium promised to be a good place to get a reaction for three reasons: 1) there are tons of people around 2) a baseball game has many lulls 3) people are drunk. Still, I had no clue I would get the reaction that I ended up getting.

I waited until the 6th inning to start the mission (see reason #3). I got out of my seat and ventured to the nearest concession stand to retrieve some refreshments. When I returned to my original aisle holding a tray full of popcorn and a beer, I did my best to appear lost – once again, an easy task for me. I glanced up in the general vicinity of my seats, but did not recognize anyone in my section. Agent Todd led a team of our friends sitting in my section – who were all wildly waving their arms in the air and yelling, “Rob! We’re up here!” But I still continued to glance around them, squinting in their direction and glancing back at my ticket stub. Giving up, I hopelessly retreated from my aisle and continued my search.

I emerged again with tray in hand – this time two aisles over. I was greeted by an enormous reaction. The hysteria created by my friends had quickly spread. As I stumbled up the aisle looking aimless and not unlike a lost puppy, several hundred people who had never met me before began to scream my name and yell in my face: “Your friends are over there! Right over there!! Hey Rob! Where are you going?!” I paid no attention to them and continued looking for my seat.

Next, I briefly appeared in the aisle in between the two aisles from before. I glanced up to my section, heard a loud, “Rob!” and quickly darted out – just a little “tease” to keep my spotters on their toes. I also didn’t want to get tackled or grabbed by a concerned citizen who desperately wanted me to find my seat.

My next strategy was to wait a few minutes before making another appearance until there was a lull in the baseball game. I practiced this strategy throughout. If the Yankees were making a rally or if everybody was standing during the Seventh Inning Stretch, I would stay hidden. Once the commotion to the real game died down, I would then immediately burst through the aisle and make my appearance. After all, it wasn’t about the actual game was it? It was all about looking for me, right? Right.

My seat-finding odyssey escalated to the point where I was now wandering around at the exact opposite side of the stadium. As I stumbled up the very last aisle in the left field upper deck, I was worried that no one would see me. But sure enough Agents Kula and Todd spotted me out, and the entire section in the right field upper deck erupted in a cheer. Someone announced, “There he is! Look!” And then everybody cheered, “Rob!! Over here! Rob!!”

Amazingly, people who didn’t know me honestly thought I was dumb enough to look for seats on the opposite side of the stadium. Several strangers began a chant in my honor: “Where is Rob?!” This morphed into a more direct chant: “Rob’s retarded!” (CLAP-CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP) The whole entire upper deck began chanting this – most of whom had no idea who I was – some of those from distant sections might’ve thought I was an opposing player up to bat or something.

There was only one way to heighten the opposite-field upper-deck wandering: a front row sighting by the Yankee dugout. This would be tough since the area is heavily guarded by ushers and the rows are even chained off to those without proper tickets. But once I made my way to the lower level, I waited until a Yankee rally ended and more importantly until a vendor undid the chain to the aisle and followed closely behind him. I slowly tiptoed toward the Yankee dugout and falsely glanced around for my seat. For a brief second I peeked up to the upper deck and out of the corner of my eye I could see hundreds of tiny arms waving around in my direction. Off in the distance I could faintly hear the chant: “Rob’s retarded!” (CLAP-CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP) All was well.

In the top of the 8th inning and after over an hour of searching for my long, lost seat, I finally staggered back up to my section. When I appeared, the upper deck exploded in a cheer. I’ve never received such an ovation in my entire life. I thought to myself, “Maybe I should try getting lost more often.” Then a troubled usher grabbed my arm and asked, “Are you diabetic?” I nodded yes, even though I’m not. Another usher strenuously informed me, “That is your last beer!” He also made extra sure that I found my way to the proper seat.

Walking up the aisle, some people high-fived me, some asked for a picture to be taken with them, and several shook their heads in dismay, telling me the obvious: “You were really lost.”

After the game, as I strutted down the exit ramp, several people from other sections of the stadium pointed me out and gave me a few shout-outs such as, “Hey look, there’s Rob!” or “Watch out, Rob! Don’t get lost!” I nodded my head and pointed back to them as the Fonze would have done back in the day (I realized I better soak all this up while I can.) Some of my “fans” asked me to pose for photos with them. One guy said he would add it to his MySpace page.

On the way home I rode the subway by myself. Some people on the train, who had been sitting in our section, also recognized me as the lost guy from before. “Hey, it’s Rob!” they announced excitedly. Then they started to get worried that I was still lost: “Wait, weren’t your friends going to some bar on the west-side? This train only goes to the east-side.” Staying in character I replied, “Oh whoops. Oh well…don’t worry… I’ll find them.”

Mission Accomplished.

Check out the sequel to this mission – Where’s Rob?

Rob! Tee