A baseball fan who went viral for giving a thumbs down after a play during a game between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in 2017 is now asking for help to pay for medical bills.
Gary Dunaier, 56, expressed his displeasure when then-Yankees slugger Todd Frazier hit a home run against the Rays. He told USA Today on Wednesday he was near death when a varicose vein burst in his leg on June 6.
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“I live alone and was able to get to the phone and call 911,” he told USA Today. “The next thing I knew, I found myself lying on the floor and blood was pouring over the floor. I couldn’t get to the door to unlock it, so the rescue crew must have broken down the door to get in. I heard things falling onto the floor.”
Daunaier said doctors told him a liter of blood had left his body. He added: “I came really close to dying.”
He launched a GoFundMe to help cover his medical expenses from his five-day hospital stay. He said he incurred about $ 30,000 of debt after the entire procedure.
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“My gesture immediately became a meme, which is still used all over the world to this day,” Dunaier wrote on the fundraising page. “The Yankees saw it and adopted my thumbs-down as a rally cry, running with it all the way to within one game of the World Series. Fans still come up to me at ballgames and ask for selfies … To this day, I’ve never been able to grasp how big Thumbs Down is and what it means to people … But now I need your help.”
Dunaier, a longtime New York Mets fan, has raised more than $ 3,000 over the last few days. His target was $ 2,000.
“It’s been said that I’m one of the few things fans of both New York baseball teams can agree on,” the page says. “The Met fans like Thumbs Down Guy because I stood alone in a sea of Yankee fans and showed my loyalty to the orange and blue; the Yankee fans like Thumbs Down Guy because I inadvertently gave them a new rally cry, and because I’ve been a good sport about being made their unofficial mascot.
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“Now, I’m down on my thumbs– er, I mean, knees – hoping Met fans and Yankee fans will unite and help me in my hour of need.”