If you’ve ever been to a sporting event live, you’ve probably seen people like them: cups out asking for change amid the crowd, and most likely vocally rooting for your home team.
Detroit Tigers fans had two of their own, known as James “Eat ’em up Tigers” Van Horn and Dreadlock Mike, who were fixtures outside of Comerica Park, where the Tigers play. Van Horn, who had been a welder before losing his job, was known for carrying a red Solo cup in a giant “Hulk Hand” while chanting his signature cheer, “Eat ’em up Tigers!”
On Saturday, many fans streaming into the Tigers game against the Phillies noticed something, or, rather, someone was missing. Van Horn, 65, had been pushing Dreadlock Mike, a homeless man with no feet, in his wheelchair about five hours after the end of the Tigers-Phillies game Friday night when both men were struck and killed by a car that fled the scene, according to Dave Hogg of Fox Sports Detroit. Another car hit Mike’s wheelchair and drove away.
Tributes from fans who had interacted with the two sprung up on Facebook and Twitter almost immediately, with one Facebook group created Saturday set up to try and find the drivers of the two vehicles involved.
Detroit-based custom T-Shirt company Down With Detroit Apparel is selling a shirt emblazoned with the words “Eat ‘Em Up Forever” and “Rest in peace, James and Mike.” According to the company’s Facebook page, all proceeds from the apparel sales will go toward funeral costs for the two men and/or homeless-related charities. The page also says that they have raised $4,000 so far.
“We always stopped and talked to him, had some good laughs, he was a nice guy,” Tigers fan Floyd Roberts said of Van Horn. “He was probably the biggest Tigers fan there was. He was a legend.”
Check out the video below to see Van Horn in action with his “Eat ’em up Tigers” chant.