BROAD STREET BILLY was shocked to learn yesterday that cops in Clearwater, Fla., busted the much-beloved, one-legged, wheelchair-bound, singing Phillies die-hard - Sonny Forriest Jr.
B-Street Billy tried to reach Beth Watts, spokeswoman for the Clearwater Police Department, but her answering tape said her workday ends at 4:30 p.m. It was 4:40 p.m.
Billy first met Sonny before Game 2 of last fall's National League Championship Series, as he was delighting tailgaters outside Citizens Bank Park, crooning the Intruders' Gamble-Huff oldie, "Love Is Like a Baseball Game" through boombox speakers, adding, "Go, Phillies, Go!" during instrumental breaks.
Sonny serenaded the Phillies faithful during the 2008 World Series ("We got rained out, but we won anyway," he croons) and at Harry Kalas' memorial service ("Harry was a friend of mine," he sings poignantly).
Although he said he had a ticket, he was denied admittance to Game One of the 2009 World Series at Yankee Stadium.
"A Yankee official told me, 'You can't come in here with that boombox, singing that Phillies song,' " Sonny says proudly.
He was singing outside Bright House Field on Monday, feeling the love from Phillies diehards, when a Clearwater police sergeant "pulled right up on me and started talking a whole lot of noise about my singing," Sonny said.
The tin-eared cop cited Sonny for: "Loud and raucous noise. Played loud music from a portable radio attached to an electric chair. Music audible over 100 feet." Fine: $118.
"I'm a veteran, man," Sonny told him. "I'm a Phillies fan. We help your economy down here. Look at those ticket scalpers over there, cheating people. Why are you hassling a guy in a wheelchair bringing joy to people?"
The cop grabbed him, said Sonny, who quickly clammed up.
"I know how some Southern people get angry at you, and then you find yourself out in the Everglades, all chopped up," he said. "I was scared."
Sonny took the first flight home yesterday. He said that he can't wait to sing for tailgating Phillies fans here, and for Reading Phillies fans on April 14 and June 21.
The 53-year-old Northeast Philadelphia native, who performed with Philly soul groups for years, is scheduled for a Clearwater court hearing on April 28.
Yo, Clearwater, don't hold your breath.