First, some background. At NatsFest last Saturday, a Nationals fan caught my attention by asking Gio Gonzalez, during a Q&A with several players on the event’s main stage, to sacrifice a rubber chicken for good luck in the 2014 season. The request caught me a little off-guard and–in jest–I labeled it a “lowlight” of days festivities in my review of NatsFest.
Afterward, I didn’t think too much more about it until my blog post caught the attention of none other than the Chicken Man himself, more likely known to his family and friends by his actual name, Hugh Kaufman.
It turns out Mr Kaufman has quite a history with the Chicken sacrificing and Gio Gonzalez himself. He even has a history of providing injured and sick Nationals players homemade chicken soup to heal their various ailments.
(These and other exploits by Hugh have been well-documented in the area’s most esteemed repository for local sports silliness, the DC Sports Bog).
Now, to be clear, I do not believe in jinxes, lucky charms, voodoos, or any other supernatural aids to success on a baseball field. But Mr. Kaufman feels very strongly that his sacrificing of a rubber chicken last August helped turn around the 2013 Nationals. Whatever side of the argument you fall, I think we can all agree his passion and dedication to the Nationals entitles him to a forum and opportunity to be heard.
Without further commentary, here is a conversation without the Washington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man.
Hugh, here you go:
In August of last year, you “sacrificed” a rubber chicken with Gio Gonzalez. At NatsFest last weekend, you claimed this was responsible for the Nats’ late-season turnaround. Do you really believe that?
It had nothing to do with the team playing “relaxed,” like they did in 2012. It had nothing to do with Jayson Werth putting the team “on his back,” and going on a tear. It had nothing to do with Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder finally healing. It had nothing to do with….It was SOLELY Gio’s sacrificing the Rubber Chicken on August 8, 2013. 😉
From what I’ve read, it sounds like you have quite a history with Gio Gonzalez. Please tell us about that. How and when did that start?
If you remember, in 2012 Michael Morse had his “Beast Mode,” which we all loved. Gio then realized that, unlike husky Michael Morse, he was more of a “Chicken Noodle Soup” kind of guy, so he became the symbol for “ChickenMode,” and the rest became history in the making. 😉
Your rubber chicken schtick is way out of left field (to use a baseball-themed cliche), but it’s also kind of funny. Has the team ever approached you for publicity purposes?
No. The team hasn’t approached me for publicity purposes. However, Mark and Judy Lerner do love my Chicken Soup. And the whole Lerner Family breaks out into laughter with the latest chicken schtick. The best part is that kids, at the ball park, enjoy waving the rubber chicken when the Nats score. It seems to be a fan favorite behind the dugout.
Silly traditions sometimes become a rallying point for a baseball team, for example the Rally Monkey in Anaheim or the Rally Squirrel in St. Louis. Do you ever imagine a “Rally Chicken” leading the Nats to the World Series?
Absolutely. Just like the NY Knights wearing a lightning patch on their uniforms, I envision a Rubber Chicken patch on the sleeve of a future Nats uniform.
You are also semi-famous for your chicken soup that allegedly healed Jose Guillen back in 2005, and later made a reappearance during the 2012 Nats season. Several Nats have health concerns right now, including Bryce Harper. Do you plan on bringing your soup back for the 2014 season?
Absolutely. I’ve already started warming up the Chicken Soup Pot in preparation for pitchers and catchers arrival at Spring Training in a few weeks.
The DC Sports Bog described you as a “lifelong DC baseball fan”. How long have you been a fan and what did you do during the dark years?
I used to go to Griffith Stadium to see the old Senators play in the 40’s and 50’s when I was a kid. Sadly they were always in last place then.
I like these Nats better. 😉
During the dark years I was a baseball fan without a hometown team. I could never wrap my head around being a St. Louis Browns (Baltimore Orioles) fan, as many DC folks became.
Please give us a prediction for 2014 season.
I predict that the 2014 Nats will be tremendously fun to watch and, if they relax and laugh and have as much fun playing hard as they did in 2012, we will definitely be playing in October. Kaynahorah. No Malocchio.
Anything else you want Nats Nation to know about you and your chickens?
I loved watching Connie Marrero pitch over 60 years ago. He was very fan friendly, although his English wasn’t so good. The former Washington pitcher is the oldest living MLB player today at 102. He’s living with his grandchildren in Havana. I would love for all Nationals fans to pray for his good health and continued longevity.