Superfan Marks a Milestone
UMD Football Game vs. Iowa Will Be Terp Supporter’s 500th Straight
When Bob Baker’s brother asked him to be best man in his 1980 wedding, Baker of course agreed. Then he discovered that the Maryland football team would be playing Penn State the same day.
“I’m not gonna be able to make that wedding because I’ll be at the game,” Baker said.
That might seem crazy, but Baker had a streak to uphold. The superfan and former Terrapin Club president, who studied engineering at the University of Maryland from 1962–65, hasn’t missed a Terp football game since Oct. 2, 1976. Tomorrow’s at Iowa will be his 500th straight.
Baker—who, not to worry, attended his brother’s rescheduled nuptials—cheered on the Terps as a student and went to a game or two a year with his wife, Carol, before getting season tickets in 1971. They made a conscious decision to attend every game—away, too—in 1976, but not with a set number or record in mind. They weren’t trying to upstage the late Giles Pellerin, who went to 797 consecutive University of Southern California games.
“The goal was just to go to the games and enjoy the games,” Baker said. “We wanted to have a good time on Saturdays.”
It hasn’t always been easy. Carol had to miss two games due to her teaching job. Besides the wedding, Baker had to convince his wife’s family to hold her grandfather’s funeral on a Sunday. When Hurricane Hugo canceled his flight to South Carolina in 1989, he flew to Atlanta instead and drove from there to see UMD play Clemson.
Wet conditions don’t bother him so much—“as long as you have rain gear, it’s not a problem,” he said—but heat is another issue. Baker recalls games at Florida, Vanderbilt and even an opener at Maryland with temperatures over 100 degrees.
But rain or shine, he’s seen some memorable matchups. His favorite featured a 30–3 Terp victory over Tennessee in the 2002 Peach Bowl, with the back-to-back season-opening upsets vs. Texas the past two years ranking No. 2 on his list.
Since retiring in 2000, he and his wife typically drive from their home in Laurel, Del., to away games, usually staying at the team hotel. Each city introduces new stadiums and faces, creating lasting relationships along the way.
“I have friends from New York to Florida because of going to these games,” Baker said.