You gotta be Krazy to take credit for this

The Washington Times Weekly - - Page Two - By Janie McCauley

OAK­LAND, Calif. — Krazy Ge­orge Henderson has spent the past quar­ter-cen­tury try­ing to con­vince ev­ery­one that he de­buted the “Wave” dur­ing an Oak­land Ath­let­ics’ play­off game against the Yan­kees — not those Wash­ing­ton state foot­ball fans who claim the Huskies first per­formed the now fa­mous cheer.

De­bate aside, the Wave is 25 years old and still go­ing strong.

“It’s been re­ally in­ter­est­ing,” Krazy Ge­orge said re­cently from his home in New Rochelle, N.Y. “I see it at the Olympics. There’s a video of Fidel Cas­tro do­ing it. If it had ac­tu­ally orig­i­nated in New York at a Yan­kees game, they would have thought it was sent by the gods.”

Krazy Ge­orge, 62, says he spent three years per­fect­ing the Wave.

He first pulled the move — in which fans take turns, by sec­tion, stand­ing up and wav­ing their arms — on Oct. 15, 1981, at the Yan­kees-Ath­let­ics Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries game in the Oak­land Coli­seum in Cal­i­for­nia. The Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton, mean­while, did it two weeks later, on Oct. 31.

For­mer cheer­leader Robb Weller had re­turned to cam­pus for a home­com­ing game against Stan­ford. He be­gan a ver­ti­cal ver­sion of the Wave in the ’70s, but first did the hor­i­zon­tal Wave that day.

Wash­ing­ton ac­knowl­edges Krazy Ge­orge as be­ing first, but they re­main cer­tain that the Huskies pop­u­lar­ized the cheer. And, it soon caught on at a Seat­tle Sea­hawks game.

It took a year and a half, Krazy Ge­orge says, for the Huskies to fess up that they’d seen the Wave on television and given it their own twist. Good thing, too, be­cause he has the proof on tape: The Wave was part of the A’s 1981 high­light video shown to po­ten­tial sea­sonticket hold­ers the next year.

“That’s the best-kept lie in the last 25 years. But now, most of the world rec­og­nizes me,” Krazy Ge­orge said. “Their the­ory is that they came up with it in 30 sec­onds — ‘Oh, we just thought it up.’

“They kept do­ing it the whole foot­ball sea­son, and of course, they were a big na­tional foot­ball power with a big bud­get. I tell ev­ery­one to call Seat­tle and get their side of the story. It’s like a war with me.”

Krazy Ge­orge, known best for pound­ing his drum in sta­di­ums across the United States, is a Cal­i­for­nia na­tive who moved north to Napa from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia at 17. He left for New York three years ago.

A for­mer high-school shop teacher, Krazy Ge­orge’s lone job the past 30 years has been as a for-hire cheer­leader, work­ing all of about three hours a week. He av­er­ages one game ev­ery seven days.

In that 1981 base­ball game, in which the Yan­kees elim­i­nated the A’s 4-0 to reach the World Se­ries, a crowd of 47,302 was on hand for the first Wave.

“We put it on the map in 1981,” said Shooty Babitt, a rookie on the ‘81 A’s. “A lot of peo­ple wish the Wave would go away now. A lot of peo­ple don’t un­der­stand when you should do it. [. . . ] The new-age fan doesn’t un­der­stand where the Wave orig­i­nated. But Krazy Ge­orge still looks the same to­day as he did 25 years ago.”

Mostly bald with blond curls above his ears, Krazy Ge­orge wears his striped ath­letic socks pulled up and al­ways has a drum in hand. He has been fea­tured in na­tional mag­a­zines and TV pro­grams and has sev­eral up­com­ing in­ter­views with in­ter­na­tional publi­ca­tions.

That game in Oak­land had been the big­gest crowd yet for Krazy Ge­orge, who had tried the cheer a cou­ple of times at high-school ral­lies.

He knows there are plenty of fans who refuse to par­tic­i­pate or be­come grumpy when their view of the game gets briefly blocked.

“As a pro­fes­sional cheer­leader, I know why I do it: What it does is in­ten­sify the en­ergy of the crowd,” Krazy Ge­orge said. “It’s al­most like an ac­com­plish­ment. It’s their own com­pe­ti­tion, like a con­test or video game. [. . . ] It takes 95 per­cent of fans do­ing it to make it great.”

Krazy Ge­orge says he last got into it with Wash­ing­ton over the Wave be­fore the 20th an­niver­sary. Over the years, he has called its ath­letic di­rec­tor and pres­i­dent, not to men­tion news­pa­pers and TV sta­tions.

The way things are go­ing, the Wave will carry on long enough for the lore to con­tinue.

“You can start a Wave, but no­body can stop one,” Krazy Ge­orge said. “The only way it stops is if some­thing ex­cit­ing hap­pens on the field.”

AP

Still Krazy af­ter all th­ese years: At 62, Krazy Ge­orge still knows how to work a crowd.

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