As you’ve probably heard by now, late last night, a hit and run driver struck and killed two men in Detroit. One of them was James Van Horn, aka the “Eat ‘Em Up Tigers” Guy.
Van Horn was born and raised in Detroit. He was an All-American wrestler in his youth in 1964. At one point, he was making over $50K per year as a welder. But he fell on hard times and ended up on the streets in 2005. Homeless, he would stand outside Comerica Park, Ford Field, Joe Louis Arena, and other venues with his oversized Incredible Hulk hand and his familiar war cry of “eat ‘em up (insert home team), eat ‘em up”. He was once quoted as saying he made as much as $400 per night doing this in an old article I read. The led to him get regular shelter on a nightly basis instead of sleeping on the streets.
Some fans took notice and had some shirts printed up with his picture on them years ago. They donated the profits to James. You probably saw him wearing this shirt before a game at some point. Between this, his minor fame, and his nightly earnings, it’s hard to believe that he’s remained there for so many years without getting off the streets. But reality is reality and none of us can truly understand, I guess, until we’ve been in his shoes.
I’ll remember him for his constant smile and the way he made fans do the same before and after games. He was always nice to me over the years and I wanted to just write this today to say thanks and goodbye to a local Detroit icon. He will be missed.
I hope they find the cowardly prick that did this. And I hope he goes to prison and the inmates eat him up.
Rest in peace, Guy.