The news came as a shock to metro Detroiters on Saturday afternoon:
Early Saturday morning, a hit-and-run took place in downtown Detroit, killing two Detroit favorites: Dreadlock Mike and “Eat ‘Em Up Tigers” guy, aka James Van Horn.
Eat ‘Em Up Tigers guy is one of the awesome things about Detroit Tigers and Red Wings games. He stood outside the two stadiums in the same spot before every game. He stood there in a hoodie, sometimes a jersey, shaking his red solo cup housed in an Incredible Hulk hand, chanting loudly multiple variants:
“Eat ‘em up, Tigers, eat ‘em up!”
“Here we go, Red Wings, here we go!”
“Eat ‘em up, Red Wings, eat ‘em up!”
And after a loss, he would intermittently sprinkle in a, “We will win next time,” or “We will bounce back.”
This man will always be a Detroit staple. He was just one factor in pumping us fans up before games.
If you didn’t see him before the game, you were honestly concerned if he was okay or if he would be out there after the game. Not seeing him at some point on a game day was sheer blasphemy.
My brothers and I try to go to multiple Red Wings games every season. Our tradition became giving “Here We Go Red Wings” guy a dollar before every hockey game we attended. Why? Because the one time we gave it to him after a victory, we lost the next game we attended (a 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, and I can tell you how insufferable Habs fans are…).
The year we had a partial season ticket package (and bought tickets to four additional games on top of that), he came to recognize my brothers and I because we parked in the same lot every time. And there was that nine-day stretch where we went to three games…
The crazy superstitious part of me is freaking out that the Red Wings won’t win a single game this season because I can’t give him a dollar before every game (okay, not really, but you get my point).
I was down at the Fox Theater Saturday night at the same time as the Tigers game began. I looked across the street at Comerica Park and wondered how many people knew and how many people wondered where Eat ‘Em Up Tigers guy was. Was there a grieving atmosphere at the game? Was an announcement made?
How much was he loved by the people in the metro Detroit area? Neighboring communities are fundraising to help pay for his funeral. 94.7 WCSX, a local radio station, has created a fundraiser to help out as well. Everyone knows him and everyone is upset with how this happened.
Call us silly or stupid or downright crazy for missing a panhandler of all people or feeding right into a panhandler’s hand, but if you never attended a Red Wings or Tigers game, you just wouldn’t understand.
Game days won’t be the same without him.