Making Waves

On October 15, 1981, in the stands of the sold-out Oakland Coliseum, Krazy George Henderson had a vision. It was the third game of the American League play-off series between the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees, and the A's had lost the first two. Krazy George was a professional cheerleader, in the A's employ for three years or so. No pom-pom shaking college rah-rah, George roved solo up and down the aisles of the stadium clad in cutoff shorts and a sweatshirt, a manic Robin Williams character with Albert Einstein hair, banging with abandon a small drum, inveigling the crowd, and leading cheers with an infectious intensity that had endeared him to fans throughout the Bay Area. Most shouts were familiar, like “Here we go, Oakland, here we go! ” But this day was different. On this day, Krazy George imagined a gesture that would start in his section and sweep successively through the crowd in a giant, continuous wave of connected enthusiasm, a transformative event that later proved historical. October 15, 1981, is the day Krazy George Henderson invented the Wave.1

Everything has to start somewhere.

I had long been fascinated by the Wave, so I wanted to find Krazy George and ask him about the story of that first Wave. “The day I started it, I already knew what I wanted,” he told me. “I knew what was gonna happen, but nobody else in the stadium did.

“First thing, I hit my drum. That focuses everybody within three to four sections of me. It's the secret ...

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