Best Superfan 2008 | Joker, fan of all things roller derby | Arts & Entertainment | Phoenix

If you've been to an Arizona Roller Derby or Arizona Derby Dames match, you've seen Joker. Or heard her. She's the chick with the glasses and curly Mohawk who positions herself behind a team bench or right out on the rink, screaming her head off. Sometimes, she's dressed in the colors of a particular team (with face paint to match), and other times, she's just wearing buttons or T-shirts that proclaim her team spirit. But no matter how she's dressed, she always acts the same — she'll scream at refs for "bad calls," shout encouragement at players, and slam her fists against the rink floor or bench ledge. Since the local roller derby leagues were founded more than five years ago, Joker's rarely missed a match in either league, and she can recall incidents from games five years ago with all the clarity of a fan who's watched the same footage over and over. She's even made her way into video clips of the Arizona Derby Dames, by virtue of just always being around. And though roller derby has its share of devout fans here, none of them is as enthusiastic and downright lusty as Joker. For her, even seeing the Derby Dames selling brownies outside Bikini Lounge on First Friday qualifies as an event.

Now, we've got lots of sports legends living in the Valley: Muhammad Ali (he's still alive, isn't he?), probably the greatest athlete of all time; Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player ever; mouth-from-the-South Charles Barkley; Iron Mike Tyson. And quite a few sports legends have died here: George Mikan, the first legitimate NBA big man, and baseball's Kirby Puckett. But there's one who never lived here or died here, but whose body and head (separated for storage) are frozen here in the hopes that one day, when medical science has achieved a God-like proportion, the two can be rejoined and rejuvenated into a live and well Ted Williams.

Even dead, the great Boston Red Sox slugger is bigger than life. Nary a year goes by when a major publication or broadcast outlet doesn't marvel at how Ted's noggin wound up at Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale in "cryonic suspension." One story is that Williams scribbled a note on a napkin that he wanted to be "put in biostasis" after death, another is that he stated in his will that he wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered over a favorite fishing spot. There were legal rumblings among family members over what the baseball great really desired, but Williams and his head have been at Alcor since shortly after his death on July 5, 2002.

Now there's nobody in the Valley who's more legendary than Teddy Ballgame. He played 19 seasons with Boston and is considered by many the greatest all-around hitter in baseball history. He was Most Valuable Player in the American league twice, led the league in hitting six times, had a lifetime batting average of .344 and hit 521 home runs. He was the last major-leaguer to hit over .400 (.406, actually) in a single season (1941). He always went out with flash: on his final at-bat on September 28, 1960, he hit a home run. In addition to his baseball career, he was a distinguished Marine Corps pilot in World War II and the Korean War.

When Bob Costas once asked Williams whether he realized that he was a real-life John Wayne hero, Williams responded: "Yeah, I know." We sincerely hope that medical science is someday able to revive a hero of such egocentric proportions, that a youth serum has been invented to return Williams (who was 82 when he died) to his youthful form, and that he struts into left field for the Diamondbacks. Though he never won a World Series during his playing days, we're sure that (even coming back from the dead) he'd be come closer helping our boys in cleats do it than Eric Byrnes.

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