I have a lot of San Diego Padres related gear, memorabilia and novelties, but "Padre Fever" is easily my most revered. The 12 in. tall figurine was hand-crafted out of foam latex by my late step-uncle, Ace Larsen, at some point in the 1970's. The lanky silhouettes remind me of the models of Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Coraline), while the ghoulish, elongated faces with gaping nostrils and anguished expressions are, to me, reminiscent of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" series.
While the dark and whimsical art design is appealing, the real brilliance is how truthfully it captures the experience of being a Padres fan, particularly before their breakout year of 1984, and of being a San Diego sports fan in general. Larsen titled the work "Padre Fever," an acerbic call-out to the torture present in the faces of his subjects that is sure to be shared by all Padres fans. Are we, as Padres fans, masochists? We must be if we keep coming back for more.
The man holds his head high (perhaps a rival fan has just told him to "stay classy"?), though his weary face and barely-open eyes betray his true feelings. The woman, on the other hand, makes no attempt to hide her pain. I recognize that face from Game 163, Tony Gwynn Jr.'s unlikely triple, Mark Langston's uncalled third strike ... I could go on. The man wraps his arm around her, but it's a token gesture. His arm is limp and perhaps it is she who is really supporting him. Together they interlock hands and clutch their brown Padres pennant. They had hoped to hold it high in celebration, but alas, not today.
When that day comes, however, it will be all the sweeter.