It's not fair to call Dave Moffitt nuts.
Just because he's been living in a Saturn for the last six years, drifting across America to watch sporting events, doesn't mean he's batty. He's, uh, rabid.
And it's not fair to call Moffitt cheap.
Just because he eats vegetables out of the can and refuses to buy food at the arenas he visits--instead sneaking in hot dog buns and making condiment sandwiches with ketchup, mustard and relish--doesn't mean he's a tightwad. He's, uh, thrifty.
And it's not fair to say that he's lost it.
In fact, now that he's seen every NFL, AFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, NBA, WNBA, CBA and NBDL team play at its home stadium or arena (including baseball spring training sites), not to mention hundreds of horse races, NASCAR races, pro golf tournaments, high school, college and even Little League games, Moffitt thinks he's found it.
"Sometimes I'll meet couples and tell them what I'm doing," says Moffitt, 62, "and the wife will roll her eyes and the husband will call me crazy. And then later the husband will sneak back and say, 'Man, I'd really like to do that someday!'"
Buddy, you better want it.
What hairspray is to Donald Trump, games are to Moffitt. Growing up in Seattle, he was a three-sport high school jock who went on to play guard for Seattle Pacific, making it to the final eight of the 1965 small-school NCAA tournament. After that he kept reffing, coaching and playing until, in 1981, his wife said, "Dave, pick one: sports or me." To celebrate their divorce, he rode his bicycle across America.
And when Moffitt, who has four master's degrees, retired in 1999 after more than 30 years of teaching junior high P.E. and elementary school, he had to decide what to do with his life. He had enough cash to buy a house, melt into his La-Z-Boy and watch games on TV forever. But then it hit him: He was single and had a crush on sports, so why not consummate his love?
Could he watch a game in every NFL stadium in one season? Pish! That was like catching fish in a teacup. The man has heard more whistles than Carmen Electra.
He has two basic rules: 1) never pay to park (even if you have to walk two miles); 2) find the cheapest ticket you can ("With 76,000 people going to a game, somebody's got to be sick," he says, so he looks for people coming up to the turnstiles alone or in groups of three; if he has to use a scalper, he waits until after the national anthem, when the prices come down).
Three months on the road costs him just more than $1,000. Of course, he fills water bottles from any available tap, has worn the same sweatshirt for eight months, gives himself haircuts and sleeps in Wal-Mart parking lots. "Some of those KOA campgrounds cost $12 a night!"
He shaves in Wal-Mart bathrooms. Showers at truck stops. Eats bananas in the car for breakfast, McDonald's Dollar Menu food for lunch and three handfuls of peanuts from each pocket during a game for supper. He never drives faster than 55--Moffitt says he's been stopped four times by cops for going too slow on an interstate--and refuses to use air conditioning. "Forty-seven miles per gallon!" he brags.
It's a lonely existence, just the way he likes it. "I like being by myself," he says. Naturally, he doesn't have a cellphone. "I taught kids for 34 years. I've heard enough." He has two daughters, though, who wish he'd check in more. "Hey, I wrote last month!"
He has no ATM card, no checking account, no home and no regrets. He might stay in a Motel 6 once a year. "Honestly, I'm much more comfortable in my car than in a bed."
He put 279,000 miles on his 1999 Saturn SL, then sold it in April for $1,000. Since then he's borrowed his ex-wife's 2000 Saturn. I saw this one. He folds down the backseat and lies on it with his legs in the trunk. He hangs a quilt--made of jerseys from his athletic career--from a bungee cord for privacy. Then he tucks his one-iron body into an old sleeping bag (no heat, it wastes gas), and suddenly he's got a suite at the Car-lyle.
The best game he's seen? "Seattle over Green Bay, Monday night, 1999, at Lambeau Field." Rudest fans? "Oakland Raiders'." Favorite place? "Spring training in Florida--38 games in 27 days!"
But Dave, wouldn't it be nice to share all this with somebody special?
"Not really," he says, though he left last week for an extended trip to Japan to visit his girlfriend, Kathy Moor, who's a teacher there. And if she ever questions his lifestyle? "Then I guess she won't be my girlfriend anymore."
O.K., I take it back. He is nuts.
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Dave Moffitt has lived in a car for six years and seen every NFL, AFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, NBA, WNBA, CBA and NBDL team play at home, plus hundreds of other events.
PETER READ MILLER