Meet the loudest fan a Washington baseball team has ever had


As a kid growing up in Silver Spring in the 1950s, I often heard Arch McDonald and Bob Wolf, then the radio voices of hapless Washington Senators. In addition to the basement-dwelling Senators, there was something else that bothered the gruff, raspy-voiced McDonald: a former Marine who had apparently never missed a home game at old Griffith Stadium. From the moment the ex-leatherneck took his seat — which was undoubtedly, and perhaps intentionally, near the radio announcer’s box — he howled almost non-stop. I have a vague memory of the howling sound the ex-Marine made and I can understand how boring it could get over the course of a game. What else can you tell us about him?

Joseph O’Connell, Gaithersburg

One fan’s excitement can provoke another fan’s anger. That’s how it was at Bruce S McAllister, a polarizing figure in the baseball history of at least two cities. Before being called “the Howling Marine”, McAllister was known as “Human Screech Owl”.

That was back when he lived in Pennsylvania and attended Pittsburgh Pirates games. McAllister was a die-hard Bucs fan. He wasn’t like those silent fans who are content to quietly fill out their scorecards. no By his own account, McAllister was “a crazy fan”.

The sound McAllister made as he cheered for his team – and against his opponent – has been variously described as a “fog horn,” “a thousand stuck pigs,” and a “cross between the bark of a trained seal and the cry of terror of a wounded jungle.” compared cat.”

The noise was so loud and annoying that Forbes Field management banned it from the park. His screeching carried over the radio. The ban was overturned by fan protests, according to the Milwaukee Journal. (Fans and radio stations weren’t the only ones alienated from McAllister. In 1941, his wife filed for divorce, citing that he preferred the team to hers. She had other reasons. The Milwaukee Journal reported that she claimed McAllister had her “subjected to cruel and barbaric treatment and humiliation.”)

During World War II, McAllister rejoined the Marine Corps. He was posted to Quantico where he could attend Senators games at Griffith Stadium on Georgia Avenue NW.

“Fans have seen many a player launch into the shower by his thunderous heck,” reported the Evening Star.

Master Sgt. McAllister was eventually posted to the Pacific where he served as Quartermaster. In a letter to the Guam star, he wrote: “My voice can carry so much into the radio mic that I get on all the broadcasts. It’s the radio’s fault… When I go to a game, I just let myself go.”

He said he gained many fans at the ballpark, including the team owner Clark Griffith, George Marshallthe football team owner and various senators.

“Of course I also made a few enemies, including a senior military man and a senior government official (now deceased),” he wrote. “They were tired old men who didn’t understand my exuberance and loyalty to the senators, the redskins and everything that concerns the city of Washington.”

As in Pittsburgh, the team temporarily “silenced” McAllister – wrongly, in his view.

“I have never used profane or obscene language,” he wrote. “I never baited the referees and never drank alcohol in the stadium.”

McAllister was still there in 1950, sitting in the back President Harry S Truman at a Senators track game. His closeness to the president did not lessen McAllister’s enthusiasm or what The New York Times described as “a total war of nerves.” Truman and Vice President Alben W. Barkley “laughed at McAllister’s brazen howl,” reported the Times.

That same summer, McAllister competed in a charity screaming contest at Griffith Stadium against a loud-mouthed comedian Jerry Colonna. It was a draw. Both men received medals reading “For Distinguished Achievement in the Science of Howling.”

Not everyone was impressed. The star released a letter from Disgusted Anti-Noiser, which said McAllister must certainly be in pain because “no normal, healthy adult would ever make noises like that. Not even in a ballpark! But maybe I’m misinformed about his age; and maybe he just needs to burp or change his diapers.”

McAllister died in Fort Myers, Florida, in 1991 and was buried there, finally silenced.

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