River Cats: Curtis Cobb
If you’ve been to a River Cats game, you’ve seen him. He sneaks up on you: “All right everyone, when I say ‘River Cats,’ you say ‘Yeah!’” He’s that guy wearing a trash bag, grass skirt, and his hair’s braided into locks that fall out of his Burger King crown. He signs autographs for the kids. Then he runs up and down the stands, taking your trash and recyclables.
Curtis Cobb is the man, arguably Sacramento’s No. 1 sports fan. He’s been with the Cats for nearly eight years, since the inaugural season in 2000. And he can answer the big questions concerning fanaticism in Sacramento. For example:
“Hey Curtis, is the wave alive or dead?”
“Alive, very alive,” he answers, always smiling. Even if you’re a crusty bum who doesn’t stretch in the seventh, Cobb’s enthusiasm motivates. “Sometimes I can get the wave to go on the first time around, depending on the crowd, but it takes about three tries to get it to go all the way around,” Cobb explains of his technique. Later, he’s in the third-base seats starting a wave; it’s a weeknight, not too crowded, but fans get off their butts.
Back in the spring of 2000, Cobb was one of those River Cats fans, up on his feet, having a good time. But he’d also lead cheers, motivating the crowd. This was always his MO: He led cheers during basketball, baseball and softball at Cosumnes River College. He played baseball at Valley High School and Cosumnes before joining the Navy, where he was stationed in Virginia before stints in the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and New Orleans. Aside from his military service, he’d always lived in Sacramento—a die-hard. One night at Raley Field in 2000, the Cats vice president of sales and marketing caught Cobb’s cheer act during a game, handed him his business card and two weeks later, Cobb had a job.
This particular June evening, Cobb is prepping for the night’s game against Fresno. There are a decent amount of out-of-towners, Grizzlies fans, so he’ll have to step up his game to give the Cats home-field advantage. Cobb adjusts his crown, which a co-worker gave to him during the Cats second season, and loops trash bags through his belt. He leads the green team at Raley, but also recycles at home—“Can’t hurt to get that extra money”—and has a janitorial-services business on the side.
But one question remains: After eight years of stadium food, does Cobb still eat hot dogs?
“Usually the dollar-night hot dogs, actually,” Cobb says—which is on Friday nights, if you’re interested.