The case of “Ronnie Woo Woo” vs. the Cubs has all the elements of a “Law & Order” episode, albeit without an actual arrest or trial.
“Woo Woo,” the infamous 75-year-old Cubs fan, whose given name is Ronald Wickers, was ejected from the Wrigley Field bleachers last month for failing to produce a ticket. Now he is claiming discrimination and threatening a lawsuit against the organization he has spent his life cheering for.
“I’ll take it all the way to the Supreme Court if I have to,” Wickers told the Tribune on Friday. “I have nothing to lose.”
The incident took place April 19 when Wickers was watching a game from the bleachers. According to Wickers, a security guard came up to him in the seventh inning and asked for his ticket. Wickers wondered why no one else was asked for theirs.
“Throughout the years, Ronnie Wickers has attempted to enter Wrigley Field without a ticket and he is politely turned away by staff,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green said. ”Wickers, like any other fan or celebrity, must have a ticket to attend a game at Wrigley Field. No exceptions.
“We take ticket integrity seriously so if you attempt to enter a section in the first or seventh inning you must produce a ticket when asked.”
Wickers told security it was an e-ticket on the phone of a friend, and that he didn’t have it.
The friend, Scott Miller, eventually was located and told the Cubs he had bought Wickers’ ticket. When the security guard asked to see it on the phone, the friend could not produce it and became belligerent, leading to their ejections.
“Scott Miller, who claims he had a ticket for Mr. Wickers, was asked to produce those tickets,” Green said. “He refused and verbally assaulted three members of our guest services staff, including a supervisor, which is a violation of our code of conduct.
“Cursing at our staff will indeed get you and your guests a one-way ticket out of the ballpark, so Mr. Miller should proceed with caution if attending a future game.”
Wickers said when he asked security why they were harassing him, he was told that he had “tried to sneak in” earlier in the day. Wickers said if that was the case it would be on video.
“How can you sneak in with all those cameras and things around there?” he said. “They said, ‘We got a call Ronnie was in the ballpark without a ticket. Go check his ticket.’ I’m like ‘Why do you have to check my ticket? They were singling me out.’ I’m not going to stop here.”
Asked why he thought the Cubs would single him out for harassment, Wickers said, “I guess because I’m a character. I’ve never done anything bad. I just try and support the Cubs 100 percent. It’s not fair.”
Wickers said he has been to five games since the episode without incident.
“No, they don’t say nothing to me,” he said.
Green said Wickers has “since attended several games … and he has been met with the same courtesy he has received over the years.”
Wickers is a polarizing fan who has been going to games since the 1960s. He’s nicknamed “Ronnie Woo Woo,” or simply “Ronnie Woo,” because of his signature cheer, “Cubs, woo!” Former Cubs President Bill Veeck once told me “the best way to appreciate Ronnie is when he’s about 100 feet away and not in your ear.”
Wickers was well known at Wrigley for his cheerleading, and when he didn’t appear in the bleachers early in 1987 the Sun-Times printed an article with the headline “Cubs ‘woo’ man vanishes,” along with the subhead: “Misses first game in 17 yrs. amid murder rumor.”
The Tribune tracked Wickers down at a pizza restaurant where he was working and had him deliver pizzas to the newsroom. Wickers walked into Tribune Tower chanting “I’m alive, woo! I’m alive, woo!”
Wickers is no longer able to yell, having lost his voice a few years ago. Still, his penchant for making news annoys some fans, and he has been seen wearing his Cubs uniform at funerals of celebrities, including Harry Caray, Mayor Jane Byrne and boxer Muhammed Ali.
Many fans take selfies with Wickers or ask for his autograph, feeling his shtick is harmless fun.
“For him to be here all these years, win, lose or draw, and for people to dislike him or be talking (bad) about him … c’mon, ” former Cubs outfielder Gary “Sarge” Matthews once said. “The guy is enjoying himself. He’s not hurting anyone. He’s not out begging for anything. He’s a Cub fan.
“I’ve always respected him. Sure, he got on your nerves as a player because his whole chant was aimed at you. No one wants that kind of recognition. But I respect him and like him and always have.”
Wickers said the bleacher incident won’t affect his love for the Cubs, though he admits the feeling may not be mutual under the Ricketts ownership. He believes Chairman Tom Ricketts doesn’t like him or want him around.
Green said the Cubs have nothing against Wickers.
“The short story is just buy and politely show your ticket when asked,” he said.
Wickers said that if he’s guilty of sneaking into Wrigley, the Cubs should produce the videotape.
“Just show that tape where I tried to sneak in,” he said. “It’s a lie, and a cover-up.”