MIAMI — Big sporting events bring out big personalities, fans, and hearts, and a long way from the Truman Sports Complex, FOX4’s John Holt found an interesting mix of all three in Miami.
In a Miami suburb, a successful lawyer practices his trade: Workers compensation. Laurence Leavy’s dad urged him on to law school, and often took his family to Dolphins games.
But Leavy discovered an alter-ego in 2012, emerging from his legal suit-and-tie uniform as Marlins Man.
“I never thought of it like that but you`re right. I have a split personality,” Leavy told Holt.
His new side surfaced at Miami Marlins baseball and Heat basketball games. Then, a funny thing happened on the way to a World Series crown for the Kansas City Royals.
“KC really made me,” he said.
He`d turned down an IRS job in Kansas City in 1983. Leavy wanted to go to New York, Los Angeles or Miami. But in 2014, as Marlins Man, Royals fans saw him at Orioles Park in the playoffs.
“And everybody in KC said, ‘Please come. You`ll love it, you`ll love it.’ I go, ‘Where are the cattle, where`s the stockyards? Dorothy and Toto?’ They said, ‘No, it`s not like that, come,'” Leavy recalled.
He did, and it wasn`t. Instead, he learned about the Kansas City Monarchs, the A`s, and the Royals. And at Kauffman Stadium, his bright orange stood out in that sea of blue.
“That`s when it blew up. ‘Who is that guy?’ ‘Is he trying to be discovered or something?'” Leavy said.
Leavy said he wasn’t, but ended up capturing the attention of the entire country. Another thing that caught everyone’s attention was his penchant for sharing, a promise he`d made to his dad.
As his Marlins Man fame grew, so did his travels and ability to help others, like youth groups, military, first responders. This included taking care of heartbroken Kansas City firefighters.
When two Kansas City firefighters died during the 2015 World Series, Leavy returned with specially made jackets for firefighter brothers and sisters. And as his persona spread selfie by selfie, so did his desire to share sports. He bought thousands in tickets for complete strangers, youth groups and service members.
Along the way he`s collected new friends, and memories. His halls are more of a sports museum than law firm. They feature items from his alma mater, Florida State, to his adopted Kansas after a 2015 visit to Allen Fieldhouse.
“I walked in… this place is terrible. I walked out… okay, this is my basketball team,” Leavy said of his experience at The Phog.
And of course, the team and town that embraced Marlins Man is prominently featured, a mutual relationship born of two championship seasons. His halls feature a special corner of swag, including an authentic World Series home plate.
“The reason it looks new? There was no Game 6,” Leavy said of the prized plate. The Royals beat the Mets in five games in 2015 to claim the franchise’s first title since 1985.
Now, he`d love to see the parade day sea of blue become a sea of Chiefs’ red. It’s a nod to the town he once rejected, but now says feels like home.
“If I could change things, I would do this Marlins Man stuff full-time.I found my calling in life because of Kansas City,” Leavy said.
While he knows he has detractors, he wins them over with his generosity. His donations in prime seating often approach $1 million worth of tickets.