Ward Tannhauser first slipped on his Ivy Man costume as a Halloween getup, but over the years he’s become a familiar sight at that ivy-bedecked haunted house known as Wrigley Field.
Standing 8 1/2 feet on stilts and draped in faux ivy, he’s hard to miss.
Tannhauser, 48, began wearing the costume to games during the 2003 playoffs. Despite his popularity, he has to keep his act outside.
Officials tell him it would be too hard for other fans to see the action on the field with all that fake ivy in the way. And that’s fine with Tannhauser, who attends a couple of games every year.
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“It’s not my desire to be a mascot,” he said. “During a game, I like to watch the game.”
On game days when he drives in from his home in Crystal Lake, he’s sure to get there a couple hours early. He puts on the 40-pound suit, gets up on his stilts and begins making the rounds outside the stadium.
By game time, he’s back to street clothes and enjoying the action on the field.
Tannhauser also has a Facebook page: “Cubs Ivy Man.” The special skills listed there include, “intimidates opposing teams, eats baseballs and grows back every year.”
Ivy Man said he’ll never forget the reaction of fans during the 2003 playoffs.
“It was just overwhelming; the attention I got was nonstop,” he said. “People all wanted to take pictures with me.”
In 2005, a new exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., called “Sacred Ground,” about ballparks and their fans, included a photo of Ivy Man. Tannhauser attended the opening.
Like every other Cubs fan, he’s waiting for his team to reach the World Series. Whenever that magic moment happens, he’ll make sure the leaves on his costume are red so they’ll match the color of the outfield ivy in late October.