Bob Toth | On 20, Mar 2017
Sports have a way of uniting perfect strangers behind blind loyalty, passion, and hometown pride. In our wins and our losses, we find acceptance, hope, and new friendships.
Over the weekend, the Cleveland Indians fan base, especially those of Twitter, mourned the loss of Austin Landau, known by many as the operator of the handle “@Jobu_Lives”. He was 34 and leaves behind three children and his fiancée, Crystal.
When I arrived on the Twitter scene with regularity in 2012, I learned quickly that one of the accounts that was a must follow for an Indians fan was @Jobu_Lives. The parody account tweeted nightly in the voice of the beloved icon from the locker of Pedro Cerrano in the Major League movies. The account started early in the 2011 season and was well over 9,000 followers at the end of the Indians’ magical run to the World Series in 2016.
He spoke with Did The Tribe Win Last Night back in 2011 about his new found internet celebrity and his reasons for becoming “Jobu” for Tribe fans around the world.
“I’ve always been a big fan of the movie and the feeling I got from watching it. I think so much of what we take from a season comes from our attitude towards it,” Austin shared at the time. “I felt like I could keep a positive, light-hearted spin on Jobu and maybe find others that felt the same way about the Tribe and we could have a good time chatting during games.”
He even contributed a couple of guest posts along the way at Did The Tribe Win Last Night between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, writing as Jobu to help Tribe fans keep the faith. His new persona led to an encounter with then team president Mark Shapiro in 2011, and a picture of the pair circulated Twitter, especially after a retweet from the Tribe’s top front office man.
I had the privilege and honor of meeting “Jobu” several years ago when celebrating a beautiful summer night in downtown Cleveland at one of the local post-game gathering places where I was to meet up with several other fans who I had met through my own Twitter interactions. He was one of several Twitter personas I met for the first time “in real life” that night and he was introduced to me solely as Jobu, while he recalled me instantly as “the guy with the zoo”. Decked out like myself in Tribe gear, one knew instantly that he was a man who took his baseball seriously.
I would see Austin from time to time in person, with me acknowledging him as Jobu and him returning the gesture by calling me “Cole Lopez”, something that might only make sense to those old school Twitter people. But the majority of our interactions remained as they always had been – on Twitter. Each one had that same Jobu touch, the old #batmagic, and would be followed with likes and retweets galore because in the end, we were all just Kip-nesses.
In a world of faceless avatars and pseudonyms, Austin helped unite Indians fans together during some really tough seasons and other years that fans will never forget.
A GoFundMe page was established in his name on Sunday to help support his family. The $5,000 goal was met in less than 12 hours, but you can still contribute to give back to a man who gave so many memorable moments to his Indians family, made up of both close friends and perfect strangers.
Rest in peace, Jobu. You were taken far too soon. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and others who knew him.
Illustration: Chris Olds via OrlandoSentinal.com/sportsstuff