Balls Out

While painting your face and holding up a sign might have passed for fan obsession in years past, there’s a new level of fan in the stands today. Face paint comes off after the last whistle blows, but the ink on these fans is going to be there long after the season goes down the tubes. Landon Heying Los Angeles Dodgers Fan, Owner, True Blue Tattoo, Los Angeles, CA

Do you give discounts to people who want Dodger tattoos?

We have something called Dodger Day once a month where we give away free Dodgers tattoos. One size is free, and you can get bigger Dodgers tattoos at huge discounts. We did 41 of them the last Dodger day.

How many Dodgers tattoos do you have?

I have eight. On each forearm, I have portraits of Tommy Lasorda and Jackie Robinson. I have the “smile now cry later” theater logo because fans are still complaining about the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn. The smiling face is wearing an L.A. hat and the crying face is wearing a Brooklyn hat.

Are you the world’s biggest Dodger fan?

There are a lot of big fans, but I don’t know anyone who’s gone to the lengths that I’ve gone. I follow them on the road, and I’ve got tons of memorabilia. Plus, I can’t even count up the money that I’ve given in discounts for tattoos.

What’s the craziest Dodger tattoo you’ve ever given?

Well, I don’t really think any of them qualify as “crazy,” since I have a few myself. But I did a Dodger logo that stretched across the entire back from shoulder to shoulder. That usually gets most people’s attention.

Do you see yourself as a sort of missionary, spreading the word of the Dodgers throughout the land?

Most definitely. I was joking with my girlfriend the other day that I’ve turned all the girls I’ve dated in the past into Dodgers fans. So in addition to the tattoos, I’ve helped build their fan base, one girl at a time.
True Blue is filled with Dodgers memorabilia, including jerseys, balls, bats, and more. Is your shop a Dodger church?

I look at the shop more as a YMCA because we’ve got some kids coming by who aren’t even getting tattoos. They just come by to hang out and talk about the Dodgers and watch the games with us.

Have you ever tattooed a Dodger?

One of the coolest things I did was I got to tattoo Matt Kemp. He dropped in after a game, and I tattooed his mother’s name in script on his wrist. He wants to get more ink, but he’s going to have to wait until after the season. It’s probably not a good idea to be sliding around when you’ve got a brand new sleeve. There’s also a rumor Manny Ramirez might be coming in.

What would a tattoo of Manny being Manny look like?

The other day I, saw a shirt with a picture of Bob Marley superimposed with Manny’s face, and it just said “Legend.” I think that would work for Manny.

Are there any tattoos you would refuse to give anyone?

There are always things that I won’t do. Like, if a kid with no tattoos wants something on his face or if someone wants a swastika. But as far as baseball tattoos go…if someone came in and asked for a [San Francisco] Giants logo, I would be like, “Look around you. Why are you coming in here?”

Glen Timmerman Chicago Bears Fan, Round Lake Beach, IL

How many Chicago Bears autographs do you have tattooed on your body?

Yesterday, I got Lovie Smith and Big Cat Williams, so I’m now up to 73 autographs. And I just started this three years ago. My goal is to get to 100 by the end of the year.

Do the players actually sign your body?

Yeah, I show up at autograph signings with a Sharpie, and they write it wherever there’s room.

How long have you gone without washing because you were waiting to get a tattoo of a signature that was on your body?

If you get signature, you gotta get to the tattoo parlor fast. So I’m running to the tattoo shop as soon as I get it. I get all my tattoos at Bustos Tattoo in Round Lake Beach. He’s closed on Sundays, but if I get one on a Sunday, I’ll give him a call and he’ll open his shop to do my tattoo.

Which autograph are you most proud of?

Mike Ditka’s, which is on the back of my head. He gripped my head really hard when he signed it. When he was done, he said, “That’s a one of a kind because I’ll never do that again!” And I said, “Good! ‘Cause I don’t want you to do that again!”

Do you regret any of them?

A lot of people say “Oh, you’ve got Rex Grossman” or “You’ve
got Tank Johnson,” but to me, it’s not the tattoo it’s the whole experience of it. I got Tank Johnson when he was under house arrest. The newspapers wouldn’t give out his address, but for some reason they gave out his roommate’s address. I went over to his house, since I knew he’d be there. He came down in his robe and signed me. Those sorts of experiences make it fun.
What made you decide to go with autographs?

I was just too lazy to carry a football around. It’s a lot easier to hold the Sharpie.

Are there any Bears player you wouldn’t get tattooed on you?

Gale Sayers. The irony is that whenever anyone hears the name Gale Sayers, they think of the Bears, but he isn’t fan-friendly. I don’t want to get his autograph. He doesn’t smile for the kids and take pictures with them. I’ve seen him blow people off so many times. I don’t want that on my body. We’re the ones supporting you, so you could show a little enthusiasm.

Have you ever forgotten any of the players who’ve autographed you?

I was once in a dark bar, and this guy came up to me and shook my hand. He asked if his wife and kids could see my tattoos. I thought he was just some regular fan who’d heard about me, but when he was looking at my back, he says, “See, that’s my autograph right there.” It turns out he was Roland Harper, a fullback in the early ’80s. I didn’t recognize him at all.

Too bad there aren’t any current or ex-Bears who are also tattoo artists. They could give you the most authentic Bears autograph tattoo ever.

Seriously. That might make my head explode.

Victor “The Patriot” Thompson
New England Patriots Fan, Laconia, NH

You have a New England Patriots helmet tattooed your head. Does that make you the biggest Pats fan in the world?

Well, it should. I’ve never met anyone who’s come close to me. People paint their faces and stuff, but I’ve never known anyone to put Tom Brady’s helmet on their head—permanently.

Do you deserve anything from the Patriots for all this free publicity?

My face is for sale at $1,000 an inch. If they want to pay for the facemask, I wouldn’t complain. Also, I’ve never been to a game, so if they want to help me out there, that’d be fine with me.

You have a Patriots helmet tattooed on your head and you’ve never been to a game?

No. I only watch them on TV.

What does your wife think?

She loves it. She’s a tattoo enthusiast herself. She wasn’t too excited about the facemask at first, but she’s come around to it.
You’re also selling tattoos of anything on your body for $200 per square inch?

It’s starting at $200 per inch for businesses that want to advertise their logos on my body. I’m taking offers at And I get all my tattoos done at House of Tattoos in Laconia, New Hampshire.

Let me throw out a few tattoos and see if you’d get these tattooed on your body. A red heart with Peyton and Eli Manning hugging in the middle?

If it was paid for, it would be there. A newspaper won’t shoot advertisers down, and neither would I. Even if Eli wanted to pay for something on my body, I’d let it be there.

The lyrics to the Chicago Bears’ “Super Bowl Shuffle”?

Yeah, definitely.

A drawing of Tom Brady and Randy Moss
making out?

If they want it there and pay for it, they can get it. But I wouldn’t do it if they were making out. I’d put Belichick on my thigh, though.

If Tom Brady or Bill Belichick were in a burning building and you could only save one of them, which one would you save?

I’d save them both. I’d find a way to do it.

Kevin McCarthy Jr. Washington Redskins Fan, Germantown, MD

Tell me about your Redskin tattoos.

I have three Redskins Super Bowl MVP autographs on my arm and 20 names of Redskins Hall of Famers in sequential order down my back as well as three helmets. For the autographs, did you have the players sign your arm? No. I had them sign a sheet of notebook paper. I took that to the tattoo artist and they transferred it over.

Are you the world’s biggest Redskin fan?

Yes, I am. But I would also like to point out that I’m a pioneer. Instead of getting the normal tattoos of skulls and dragons, I thought out of the norm. So I said, “Hey, I’ll get a Redskins tattoo.” Now I’m seeing more people than ever getting Redskins tattoos after seeing mine. I planted the seed in the minds of fans who were eager to do something more for their team.

How do you feel about the Hogettes, those guys who put on dresses and pig snouts to show off their love of the Redskins?

I like them a lot. Their dedication to the game is something no one ever thought of before. They stuck with it, and it wasn’t a fad. I’m not going to say I’m a bigger fan than they are, but I’ve gone through 25 hours of pain, while they are wearing dresses.

Would you ever get a tattoo of Daniel Snyder, the hated Redskins owner?

No. He might sell the team, and that would be like having a girlfriend’s name tattooed on your body after you’ve broken up. Do you have any regrets about these tattoos? No, that’s why I plan for so long before I get them. Actually, the only regret I have is that my back isn’t long enough to continue the Redskins Hall of Fame roster.
We’ve heard that you have a special shirt to show off your back tattoos. How does it work?

I figured I spent all this money to show off my team, so I took a Redskins T-shirt, cut out a big rectangle in the back so I could go to a game and show off all my back tattoos. Then I added three Redskins-colored buttons so if I ever go into a restaurant with the shirt I can button it up and not offend anyone or break the “No shoes, no shirt, no service” law.

Ron Vergerio, tattoo by Chris Blick from American tattoo.

Ron Vergerio, tattoo by Chris Blick from American tattoo.

Darren Meenan with tattoo by Eric Ziobrowski, Visionary Tattoo.

Tony Petillo, tattoo by Chris Delaney from Almighty Ink.

Luke Sobiek, tattoo by Cory Norris from Classic Tattoo.

Greg Jones, tattoo by Mike Parenti from In Your Face Tattooz.

Rob Silva, tattoo by Joe Capobianco from Hope Gallery

Anonymous, tattoo by Bob Maness from Harry’s Tattoo.

Jeremy Socha, tattoo by Tony Veerkamp from Skinstain Tattoo Company.

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