Things Are Looking Up for the Yankees’ Thumbs Down Guy By WALLACE MATTHEWS
In an age when people seek fame by making the most noise, Gary Dunaier found his without making a sound.
Dunaier, now known as the Thumbs Down Guy, is the most accidental of internet sensations.
Had Hurricane Irma not wreaked havoc on the west coast of Florida, forcing the Tampa Bay Rays to find a new home for their regular-season series against the Yankees, things would have been different. For one, the Sept. 11 game at which Dunaier made his Roman Colosseum gesture in response to Todd Frazier’s three-run home run would have been at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., instead of at Citi Field in Flushing.
Had the Mets not set a blanket $25 ticket price with all seats first come first served, Dunaier, a Mets fans whose season tickets are in the upper deck, would not have been sitting in a choice seat in full view of YES Network cameras.
Had Tampa Bay pitcher Jake Odorizzi not hung a 3-2 slider in the fourth inning, maybe Frazier would not have hit that home run.
And had Frazier’s teammate Aaron Judge not noticed the gesture — and recognized its potential as a rallying symbol for the team — Frazier and his teammates might never have picked up on it and made the Thumbs Down Guy officially a thing.
But that night, those factors came together in a perfect storm, and now everybody is giving the thumbs down.
“I’m just a regular working guy, and I knew this was going to be the first major league baseball game at Citi Field that did not involve the Mets,” said Dunaier, a court office assistant at Manhattan Criminal Court. “I just wanted to see history. Little did I know that I would be making history.”
Dunaier, whose usual seat is in the outfield promenade section, among the least expensive seats in the park, was astounded to obtain a seat in the second row of Section 122, directly behind the visitors’ dugout.
“I could never afford that seat for a regular game,” he said. “I brought my camera along to take some pictures from a vantage point I wouldn’t ordinarily have.”
Before the game was over, however, fans were asking to take pictures of Dunaier, having seen his gesture in social media posts.
“That’s when I first became aware that something was going on,” he said. “I had no idea how big this was going to be.”