I'd like for you to meet one of my favorite people in the whole world. He's a private guy and though he's okay with my writing this post, he'd rather I kept his identity a secret for now. He calls himself The Toadman. But I should warn you, what you are about to read isn't what you'd expect. He doesn't lick toads for fun, eat amphibians or live under a bridge. He simply loves toads more than anything in the world and what he does in his free time proves it.
If you ever meet The Toadman, he'll seem just like anyone else in the Motor City. He'll probably talk about Michigan State University, the Detroit Tigers and how great it is to live in his hometown of Clawson. But what you won't get right out of the gate is what I call his "green side". That's the side of him that's comfortable discussing his life-long passion.
Since we were kids, The Toadman has been obsessed with frogs and toads. The day I got my drivers license he talked me into traveling 20 miles north to a swampy area because "that's where they have the best ones". I know it sounds strange, but just as a bird watcher is able to detect the presence of certain birds by how they chirp, The Toadman is able to do the same with toads. It's uncanny really.
Did I mention that for the past 2 decades he's lived with toads and sometimes sets up professional photo shoots with them? Just look at the size of his favorite googly eyed friend, Toad Ramsey. That portrait is ridiculously huge!
Sadly, Toad Ramsey is no longer with us (God rest his frog soul). He was named after a baseball player from the 1880's who became famous for inventing the knuckle curve ball. It seemed that Thomas H. "Toad" Ramsey had severed the tendon in the index finger of his pitching hand and there was no way for it to apply pressure to the ball from that finger when thrown. When other pitchers saw his throws curve the way they did, they deconstructed his grip and the technique lives on to this very day.
The Youngstown Vindicator described his pitches on January 6, 1923:
“The ball would leave the hand and go on a straight line to the plate, then suddenly shoot down. Ramsey’s curve was pronounced by experts to be the perfect demonstration of rotating a sphere."
In 1888 the Toad Ramsey baseball card became available and my friend has built a little house for the one that he owns. He explained that the card isn't especially valuable and though he did it to protect it from direct sunlight, it was also because toads are mostly nocturnal.
As you can see, Toad Ramsey will live safe and sound forever under a gigantic portrait of himself.
We should all be so lucky.
Earlier this year, The Toadman attempted to contact the spirit of Toad Ramsey through a Ouija board. What he found was that Mr. Ramsey doesn't like being called "Toad" at all. He'd rather be called by his given name, Tom.
I'm sure you're glad that's straightened out.
In 2003, The Toadman's Fantasy baseball team (named The Clawson Toads) won the World Championship title besting more than 200,000 teams in the ESPN's Baseball Challenge. That year everyone in town got a Clawson Toads baseball shirt to celebrate.
The Toadman followed CNN trucks around town while wearing his shirt in hopes of getting some well deserved airtime. And at 3:28 PM, on December, 12th 2003, my friend hit 4.5 seconds of pay dirt.
This footage became especially important when he found himself in a battle with editors of Wikipedia. It seemed they didn't think the Clawson Toads were important enough to have their own article. After 2 years of tireless battling, The Toadman's wikipedia page was taken down and the sleepy city of Clawson, Michigan has never been the same.
But life goes on for The Toadman and he is currently working on his will that states, "Upon my death, I leave everything I own to the Clawson City school district as long as Clawson High School changes their mascot from whatever it is to a toad".
And that seems fair to me.