"My name's Lloyd, but they call me 'The Heckler' and, really, they call me 'The Suspect.'"
That's how Lloyd Broadnax introduced himself to me, after I wandered over to say hello during Aug. 27's game between the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings and Syracuse Chiefs. A regular at Syracuse's NBT Bank Stadium for more than a decade, Broadnax has become known as one of the team's most vocal supporters. He spends most of his time on the first-base side of the ballpark, often pacing up and down the aisles while cheering on the Chiefs and, more notably, deriding the opposition.
In fact, Broadnax got his "Suspect" nickname as a result of one of his signature taunts.
"No. 1 prospect turned No. 1 suspect!" said Broadnax. "I'd yell that at the players, so they'd use that as my title. They call me a variety of things: 'The Heckler,' 'The Cheerleader.' It don't matter. I love baseball, and it's always been a part of my story."
Broadnax grew up in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. He was a baseball fan from a young age and went on to play the sport while attending John Jay High School in nearby Park Slope. He thinks that he could -- and should -- have pursued a baseball career upon graduating high school in 1979. Life got in the way, however.
"I got sidetracked and never got a chance to take it to the next level," he said. "I had a lot of hardships going on, drug addiction."
After Broadnax's mother passed away in 2001, he moved to Syracuse, where his sister lived. Shortly thereafter, he discovered the Chiefs.
"This is just a beautiful outlet," he said. "A place where I can let go, just be me. I don't do what I do for the people, I do it for me. This is my place. I know the game. I can talk the talk."
Ziv Konsens, a Chiefs fan and friend of Broadnax's since the 2008 season, can't help but interject here.
"But in the beginning, you were going against the Chiefs! You were a hater."
Broadnax, doing his thing (left) and his friend Ziv Konsens, holding an eye chart (right). (Ben Hill/MiLB.com)
With a shrug, Broadnax concedes this point. When he first began attending games in Syracuse, his heckling endeavors were indeed most often directed toward the home team.
"I tried to feel them out and started seeing that they weren't put together well," he said, regarding his first impressions of the long-running International League franchise. "They would lose, get beat up, so I started heckling them. I used to get on [former Chief and current Washington Nationals outfielder] Jayson Werth. On the last day of the 2003 season, on Sept. 1, I was sitting right here [on the first-base side] and he was in the batting circle. He said, 'I've got something for you, Money. I've got something for you.' The batboy came over and tossed me a ball. It said 'You talk a lot of trash, my man. But how about you meet me in the parking lot? I want to talk to you.'
"I laughed, said 'Whoa, that's my boy! He wants to give me a ride home!'" said Broadnax, laughing at the memory. "But I never went [to the parking lot]. For what? It was a callout. But what happened was, the next season starts and I was in my spot out in left field. … [Pitcher] Shaun Marcum, you know him? He said 'Yo, why are you always hating on us?' I said, 'Because you don't ever win.' He said 'I'll tell you what: if you root for us, and heckle the other team, I'll give you season tickets.' And I've been getting season tickets ever since. Free. Because when he left, another player picked it up. I got good with the players, because they just liked what I was doing. [Emmanuel] Burris, he's the one that hooks me up now."
As a result of this arrangement, The Chiefs have long been immune to Broadnax's heckling. He now roots for the team with an intense enthusiasm and even boasts a Chiefs tattoo on his left forearm. His support for the team has been particularly rewarding this season, as the Nats' top affiliate paced the International League with 81 wins en route to appearing in the postseason for the first time since 1998.
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But if you're competing against the Chiefs, it doesn't matter how well you're playing, or how badly. Either way, you're going to get taunted by "The Suspect."
"I come off the head, nothing written," said Broadnax. "I just threw out a first pitch, and I took the mic and told [Charlotte Knights second baseman] Micah Johnson 'You throw like a girl!'"
"One story that stands out for me is when Juan Miranda, was playing for the [Scranton/Wilkes-Barre] Yankees," added Konsens. "Lloyd goes, 'Hey, Miranda! You have the right to sit down!' … Another great one is when [the opposing team] is up with two outs. Lloyd will yell at the guy in the on-deck circle. 'Go and get your glove!'"
Broadnax, for his part, says that one of his favorite lines in his repertoire is "Let me see your face when you strike out."
"Some people like [the heckling], some don't," he said. "That's life. It's not a perfect world, so we're going to have our differences. But I don't drink, and I don't curse. I keep it clean, and the kids love me."
Broadnax might have had more to say on this topic, but the Chiefs were batting in the bottom of the eighth inning and on the cusp of tying the ballgame. As Steven Souza approached the plate, Broadnax jumped to his feet, and once more, his voice could be heard echoing throughout the ballpark.
"Hey! Ho! Hey! Alright, we need a run, baby. We need a run to make this thing right!"