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The tale of UC Irvine's "Superfan" has gone national with the Wall Street Journal weighing in on its front page, turning the long-haired fanatic with a "No. 1" finger pointed to the sky into one of its famous dotted images.
And the story may have a happy ending after all ... if Keith Franklin, the obsessive fan of UC Irvine's baseball team since 2002, follows some rules, according to the school.
Franklin, 49, was known to cheer loudly and often, attend games religiously and rush the field on special occasions. Such was the case Feb. 23 when he ran to the pitcher's mound to congratulate the coach on his 1,000th win. Only this time, Franklin was escorted off the field by security and told not to return. He asked for his season tickets to be refunded. With that he was banished.
Now that the Anteaters are in the playoffs, there aren't any more home games for Franklin to attend, even if he wanted to. But the school told the newspaper that it is open to discussing his return next season.
"But there would be certain parameters he would have to agree to," Cathy Lawhon, the university's director of media relations, said Friday. "I cannot tell you what those parameters are." Those specific parameters "will be discussed with Mr. Franklin at the appropriate time," according to the school's statement to the Wall Street Journal.
Anyone who might have been able to describe those parameters was said to be in Oregon for the first round of NCAA playoffs that started for the Anteaters with a game Friday afternoon against UNLV. Irvine prevailed, 10-3.
You know who else was there? Keith Franklin. Karen Crumlich, the mother of former Anteaters baseball player D.J. Crumlich, paid for Franklin's flight and hotel when the team earned its playoff berth, the Wall Street Journal reported.
On Twitter earlier this month, D.J. Crumlich said he was "ashamed to be an Anteater" because of what the UC Irvine athletics department had done "to the best fan in college baseball #FreeSuperfan."
UC Irvine's earlier statement on Franklin's ouster insists that the school is "not in the business of keeping fans away from our home events."
It didn't mention hope of a possible return for Franklin, at the time, but did mention that UCI appreciated his enthusiasm.
"However, he has been stretching the rules of our stadium fan-conduct policy for several years and he crossed the line earlier this season, in late February, with threatening, aggressive behavior and language directed at our staff as well as law enforcement officers," the statement said at that time.
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