Ed Loyd has been attending Minor League Baseball games in Richmond since 1964, back when the city's team was called the Virginians and operated out of Parker Stadium. He's been a regular at The Diamond since that ballpark opened in 1985, cheering on the Richmond Braves and, since 2010, the Flying Squirrels. You can always find Ed sitting -- or wandering about -- the seats behind home plate, chatting up his fellow ballpark regulars as well as the traveling scouts who routinely populate the area.
"I come out here, talk a little bit about this and a little bit about that," said Ed, speaking after the conclusion of May 7's Flying Squirrels game. "Before you know it the game is over. I've got a real understanding wife. She doesn't mind that I'm always out here."
Indeed, it was an email from Ed's wife, Brenda, that inspired me to speak with him. She wrote that she wanted me to know about "a regular who sits behind home plate and basically roams the park every night. He is known as Chappy."
Ed is known as such because, simply put, he's the man with the ChapStick. He says that, over the last three-plus decades, he's given away thousands upon thousands of sticks to his fellow ballpark denizens. The majority of this lip balm largesse has been distributed to scouts, who have been been able to effectively eliminate this indispensable oral hygiene product from their travel budgets.
"I worked for ChapStick for 40 years," explained Ed. "Well, I worked for A.H. Robins [pharmaceutical company] and ChapStick was one of their products ... One day I was sitting with one of my scout contacts. He's sitting there and all of a sudden he just went off like he'd lost his best friend. 'Damn it, I left my ChapStick! I never go anywhere without my ChapStick.' He didn't know I worked there. I brought him a good supply, said 'I don't want you to ever be without your ChapStick.'
"That's how it got started, at least 30 years ago. It was an innocent thing, but it grew, like a snowball rolling down a hill."
After speaking with Ed Loyd, he gave me more ChapStick than I have ever owned at one time.
Ed used to get his ChapStick for free. These days he says that he pays "a certain amount less than the general public." Regardless, he is very generous with his supply. After our conversation, he gifted me with two "Tropical Paradise" three-packs as well as a half dozen other flavors (encompassing everything from Classic Spearmint to Pink Lemonade to Cucumber Pear.) I, like the scouts who sit behind home plate at The Diamond, won't be running out of ChapStick any time soon. If ever.
"They could go out and buy it, but they know I'll always have it here," said Ed. "I enjoy sitting here and talking to the scouts, and the recognition is good too. Most people here, they don't even know me as Ed Loyd. They just know me as Chappy."