Better Know a Wizards Fan: Redskins Man Edition (aka ‘Pump it Up’ Man) | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Better Know a Wizards Fan: Redskins Man Edition (aka ‘Pump it Up’ Man)

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Updated: December 18, 2014

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[Walter, the ‘Pump it Up’ Man — image via @LedellsPlace]


His familiar Redskins jacket is easy to spot among the arriving Verizon Center crowd. Before every game he makes his way to his seat in the VIP section behind the basket near the Wizards bench. Ushers greet him with a hug and a smile. Passing fans stop for a handshake and an encouraging word. Players nod his way as they take the court for pre-game warmups. He’s on a first name basis with Phil Chenier and Steve Buckhantz. You may not recognize the man, but you definitely recognize his move. His name is Walter, better known as “Pump it Up” man.

You can tell how the Wizards are playing at any given moment just by watching Walter’s face. He wears his emotions on his sleeve—which is always burgundy and gold. He wears a Redskins jersey to every game, sometimes a faded RGIII top, other times a throwback to Dan Snyder’s first fantasy football move: a Clinton Portis jersey. Walter expends almost as much energy as the players, throwing his hands up in exasperation at blown calls, pointing emphatically at players when they appear listless on the bench and, of course, pumping up the crowd with his signature move.

In years past, Walter’s roof-raising stood out like a sore thumb among the apathetic Verizon Center masses. If it does not involve chicken or a T-shirt, fans often cannot be bothered to raise their voices, let alone the roof.

This season, something has changed. Maybe it’s the euphoria fueled by a franchise-best 13-2 start at home, but fans have finally taken notice and joined Walter in his rallying cry. Against Indiana it seemed like the entire lower bowl was heaving with hands thrown in the air. Against Miami, Walter kicked off the second half on the Jumbotron. And Tuesday night against Minnesota it may finally have reached a tipping point. Late in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ blowout victory, in-arena host Rodney Rikai grabbed the mic and announced a new tradition in D.C.: “Pumping it up.”

The players have noticed too. Before I could even finish my question to Wizards guard Garrett Temple about Walter, he raised his hands in the air and confirmed, “We notice him.”

What do you think of Walter?

Temple: I think he’s great for our team. He’s always there, a constant out there for us, especially with the fan base we have with a transient city. We get a lot of people that aren’t from D.C. that come to games and may be cheering for their original home town team, so it’s good to have a guy that’s there every game and always on your side no matter what, pumping us up.

But one pressing question remains: what do you call Walter’s move?

Temple: Raise the Roof. It’s got to be the Raise the Roof.

Not Pump it Up?

Temple: I think it could be both. I think you could use it both ways. I think it’s …

Temple paused for a moment, contemplating the magnitude of the question.

Temple: I would actually say it’s more of a Pump it Up because you see him and he might be mouthing ‘pump it up, come on, pump it up.’  So yeah, let’s go with Pump it Up.

—-

There is only one way to settle this for sure. In an exclusive interview, TAI sat down with the man who has become a D.C. sports institution and asked the questions on everyone’s mind. Be forewarned: Walter’s final revelation will shock you.

When did you start coming to games in D.C.?

Oh god. The Redskins in 1963. I remember going to Griffith Stadium years ago. The Wizards—I went to Morgan State University—so I started liking them back in 1971. I used to go to the Baltimore Civic Center to see them play.

How long have you been doing the move?

Jeff Bostic and Art Monk used to laugh because I used to do this [raises his hands]. I’ve been doing this since the 1980s.

Did you audition any other moves before picking this one?

[Laughs] That’s my signature move.

Are you exclusive to the Redskins and Wizards? Do you follow any other D.C. teams?

I used to like the Orioles. I used to go to the Orioles games because my mother would take me when I was a child to Baltimore to see the Orioles.

Settle the debate. What exactly do you call the move?

Raise the Roof or the Pump it Up.

But there has to be an official name.

Well, the Redskins players used to call me Pump ‘Em Up Man, so I’ll just call it the Pump it Up.

Which player called you that?

Dexter Manley used to call me that year’s ago. Pump It Up Man.

You always wear a Redskins jersey. Have you ever considered a Bullets or Wizards jersey?

Every time I wear the Redskins jersey—it’s a superstition for me—the Wizards win. I used to wear [a Wizards jersey] and they’d lose.

Do you remember when you stopped wearing the Wizards jersey?

During the Gilbert Arenas days. I started wearing the Redskins jersey and they started winning after that.

How many Redskins jerseys do you have? I’ve seen Portis, Orakpo, Sean Taylor, RGIII.

It goes all the way back to Doug Williams. I’ve got so many jerseys. Everybody knows I’m a Redskins fan so my family gets jerseys for me.

What are your favorite ones? Are you superstitious about which ones to wear at different games?

No, not really. I just wear any of them to the game.

You seem to know a lot of players.

They all should know me. I’ve been coming so many years and getting fired up and hollering and whooping so everyone knows me—Redskins players and Wizards players.

You always greet Phil Chenier and Steve Buckhantz after the games. You are on a first name basis with them.

They’ve known me for years, Phil and Steve always talk to me.

Have you noticed more people joining your cheers this season?

I try to get everybody to do this. Wizards’ players, fans and everybody out here, so we can win. That’s why I do that all the time. 

Who are your favorite Bullets/Wizards of all-time?

Well, you’ve got Phil Chenier. I like Earl “the Pearl” Monroe. Chris Webber when he played here. Juwan Howard, so many of them. Really I liked every player that played every year on the team.

Basically, if you ever wore a home uniform, Walter has your back. Any particular Bullets/Wizards memories stand out?

I go back to when Wes Unseld and Phil played. When Bobby Dandridge stopped Dr. J. when we went to the championship in ‘78.

I notice fans come up to you before and after every game. What do they say?

They want to take pictures with me and say I pump the squad up and pump the fans up and everything.

Do you ever get recognized outside of the stadium on the street?

I went to Las Vegas one time wearing a Redskins shirt and some guy says, ‘That’s the guy at the Redskins games.’

Where do you travel in from for the games?

Bowie, Maryland.

As the usher politely encouraged us to wrap-up our post-game conversation in the empty VIP section, I asked one final question: You only have one season ticket and come to the games alone. Your wife won’t come with you?

I don’t want my wife with me, man. She’s a Dallas Cowboys fan. I don’t want her to be around me.

I could not have scripted a better response.

No matter what you call it—Pump it Up or Raise the Roof—after 30 years Walter might finally be onto something. Here’s to new traditions at the Verizon Center.

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[Image via @LedellsPlace]

Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.




  • Vince McMahon

    Great article. However, calling Clinton Portis Synder’s first fantasy football move is absurd.

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