The former Browns quarterback's flight was delayed by thunderstorms.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- The fans came wearing Browns jerseys, Cowboys jerseys and Dolphins jerseys.
Some wore more brown and orange than a maple tree in October.
Some sang along with "Bernie, Bernie," played over the Cafaro Field speakers to the tune of "Louie, Louie."
Inside the gates, a weary Megan Cunningham took a breather after a frenzied 22 minutes of passing out Bernie Kosar bobblehead dolls to fans at Tuesday's Mahoning Valley Scrappers game.
Cunningham loves her job -- just not on bobblehead night.
"I just passed out 500 of these and only three people said thank you," said Cunningham, a Diamond Girl for the Scrappers. "Then we get complaints about not having enough. It stinks."
The dolls are part of a ongoing promotion at this year's Scrappers games.
There have been two already this season -- Indians pitcher and former Scrapper C.C. Sabathia and Austintown Fitch High graduate Jeff Wilkins, a kicker for the St. Louis Rams.
Two more are planned -- NASCAR driver Dave Blaney on Aug. 13 and former pitcher Dave Dravecky on Sept. 3
Hundreds of fans lined the stadium sidewalk two hours before game time. Many walk in the gates, grab their bobblehead doll and leave, leaving Cunningham to field complaints from the bobblehead-less.
"It just isn't fun," she said.
Safe to say, Tuesday's game was more hectic than usual.
"It was pretty crazy when C.C. came, but it wasn't like this for Jeff Wilkins," Cunningham, a student at Kent State, said.
"Yeah, Bernie's bumping," added Raina Darwish, a Diamond Girl and student at Ohio State.
Kosar was supposed to throw out the first pitch, but his flight from Washington D.C. was delayed by thunderstorms and he never made it to the game. Too bad. He would have been greeted by thousands of adoring fans -- none more impressive than the "Bone Lady" (aka Debra Darnall of Columbus).
The Bone Lady sported an orange beehive of Browns pins, flags, jewelry and dog bones that reached a foot above her head.
She wore orange fishnet stockings, a orange skirt that lifted up to reveal "Steelers Suck" on the back of her orange shorts.
Across the front of her shirt was the phrase "Bone It."
She even drives the "Bone Mobile," a bright orange station wagon decorated with bumper stickers, flags and a five-foot long white dog bone on the ceiling.
A rare breed
"Everybody loves the Bone Lady," she said, smiling. "People come up to me and say, 'You're doing what I don't have the nerve to do.' "
Darnall is a member of the Ohio Browns Backers. She has season tickets to the home games and travels to most of the away games, too. She was named "Browns Fan of the Year" by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and even has her own web site: www.bonelady.com.
"For most people, Bernie is their favorite player," she said. "But my favorite player is Leroy Kelly. It was such a thrill when I met him. I have a picture of him sitting in the Bone Mobile."
She collects pictures of present and former Browns, but she's an attraction in herself. In the middle of answering a question, two young boys decked out in Scrappers clothing asked her if she would mind posing for a picture.
"Not at all," she said, draping her arms around her two new fans as the camera clicked.
She then looked at the reporter, smiled and said, "That's what I love most about this. That's the best part."