If you consider yourself a Chicago Cubs fan, chances are you have either heard or heard of Ronnie Woo Woo. Every game day Ronnie Woo Woo makes his way to Wrigley Field and joins that ranks of proud Cubs fans hoping for a win. Brad Novak and Phil Sklar, long time friends and bobblehead collectors decided earlier this year to solidify Ronnie’s title as a super fan. In the past several months, Brad and Phil have designed and developed an official Ronnie Woo Woo talking bobblehead to not only be sold, but also displayed in the up and coming National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum.
Ronnie grew up on 47th Street and has for as long as he can remember, been a Chicago sports fan. He attended his first Cubs game in 1951 where he saw Jackie Robinson play. In the simplest of terms, Ronnie explained that he grew up with a teddy bear and a love for baseball, and when he put two and two together it just made sense to be a Cubs fan. Ronnie acquired the title of Ronnie Woo Woo in the late 1950’s. A noise in which some are quite familiar with, the “woo woo” stems from the way in which Ronnie cheers. Ronnie stated that all he wanted to do was go out, cheer for the Cubs, and be happy. His love for the Cubs is only trumped by his colossal love and dedication to the game itself. Ronnie remarked that baseball is a sport that brings people together. In its entirety, baseball transcends race, ethnicity, religion, or any other individual differences. The love of the game puts holds on conflicts and breaks down barriers so that people can come together to simply enjoy watching and playing baseball.
Brad Novak and Phil Sklar have been Cubs fans for many years, and have been friends for even longer. Both Brad and Phil grew up in Rockford, Illinois and left twelve years ago to attend University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Around the time they moved to Milwaukee they obtained their first bobblehead, a mascot for the Rockford RiverHawks. From that moment on their collection of bobbleheads grew exponentially. From the first to the tenth bobblehead the collection multiplied, going on to surpass 100 and then 1,000 bobbleheads. Brad and Phil currently have around 3,000 bobbleheads, and have high expectations for that number to reach 10,000 fairly soon.
About three years ago Brad and Phil began to discuss the possibility of opening a bobblehead museum, paying homage to celebrities, athletes, and fans alike. In 2013 the two collectors decided to run with the idea of a super fan bobblehead, choosing to honor Milwaukee Panthers super fan Michael Poll. Michael became a part of the Panthers family in 2006, becoming a huge staple in their athletic program and a vastly well recognized face around campus. Brad and Phil chose him not only for his uncompromised enthusiasm and spirit in the face of his mental handicap, but also for his immense love for Milwaukee sports. The Michael Poll bobblehead sales were charity based, with proceeds going to the Special Olympics.
In September of 2014, Brad and Phil decided to make another super fan bobblehead, showcasing Ronnie Woo Woo and his love of Chicago sports, specifically his ultimate devotion to the Cubs. After talking back and forth, designing, and developing, the Ronnie Woo Woo bobblehead has changed from a vision to a reality. Following suit with their past philanthropic efforts, portions of the proceeds go to both the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and Ronnie’s daughters’ scholarship fund. Both the pursuit of furthering his daughters’ education in nursing and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum hold very special places in Ronnie’s heart. Phil and Brad are extremely excited to donate proceeds to both worthy causes.
The Ronnie Woo Woo bobblehead will be showcased in Phil and Brad’s National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee. When it opens, this will be the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads and bobblehead related exhibits. The collectors are currently using Kick Starter to raise funds for the exhibit and sell memberships to future founders. Like all of the thousands of bobbleheads in the exhibit, Ronnie’s bobblehead has a special story behind it. His story contains nearly 50 years of being a Chicago Cubs super fan. Ronnie also noted the important role that StreetWise has played in his story. As a current StreetWise vendor, Ronnie recognizes the opportunities he has been given through StreetWise. He remarked that life has definitely had its ups and downs, but that being a vendor for StreetWise has helped him through many rough patches he has faced.
An incredibly large amount of things have changed in the time that Ronnie has been alive, but there is still baseball and it is still bringing people together throughout the wins, losses, and off season. At any given time, Ronnie can tell you the number of days until opening day. Like Phil and Brad, Ronnie has found something that he is truly passionate about. He is not only an asset to Chicago sports teams as a super fan, but also to StreetWise as an extraordinary vendor.
At StreetWise we pride ourselves in giving a helping hand rather than just giving hand outs. For many vendors, including Ronnie, the opportunities given by the vendor program are ones that you must pursue with incredible determination. Phil Sklar and Brad Novak know a lot about pursuing a dream, and it just so happens that the paths of a StreetWise vendor and two bobblehead collectors and creators have made for a remarkable partnership.
by Jennifer Aldrich