The World’s Greatest Impostor
01 Sep 2015
Barry Bremen was born in June 30, 1947. He was an insurance and novelty goods salesman and marketing executive in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Bremen is popularly known in the sports world as The World’s Greatest Impostor. From the period 1979 to 1986, the 6’4″, “lean” Bremen posed as a sports star in NBA, Golf and MLB, he also posed as a cheerleader in a football event and was even posed as an Emmy Award acceptor.
Bremen was a self-proclaimed jock who regularly played touch football, basketball and softball. His wife Margo once said in a 1980 People magazine profile of the imposter, “fulfilling a grand fantasy to be in the limelight. He (Bremen) feels if you have no guts you have no glory in your life.” His advice to other impostors: “Don’t do it. It’s against the law. Stay away. This is my act.”
- On February 4, 1979, Bremen donned a Kansas City Kings uniform and got onto the floor during the pre-game warm-ups for the NBA All-Star Game at the Pontiac Silverdome. He was noticed by genuine All-Star Otis Birdsong, who is playing in Kansas City that time.
- Bremen repeated that act in a Houston Rockets uniform at the 1981 All-Star Game at the Richfield Coliseum.
- On July 17, 1979, in Seattle Kingdome, with the help of telecaster Dick Schaap and Kansas City Royals third
baseman George Brett, Bremen sneaked onto the field dressed in a New York Yankees uniform for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Bremen shagged flies in the outfield for a half hour and attempted to pose for a group picture with Hall of Famers. Bremen was finally spotted and ushered off the field. He tried again, hiding out in the Mariners clubhouse whirlpool bath, until Seattle Mariners’ trainer Gary Nicholson had him ejected from the premises.
- Bremen dressed as an umpire at a 1980 World Series game and he walked out to home plate with actual umpires Harry Wendelstedt, Don Denkinger and Paul Pryor to name a few, afterwards his stunt was discovered.
- In 1986, wearing a New York Mets uniform, Bremen again shagged flies in the outfield during the All-Star pre-game at the Houston Astrodome.
- December 16, 1979, Bremen posed as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader at a Cowboys-Redskins game held at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. In preparation, Bremen lost twenty-three pounds, practiced drag routines with his wife, had a replica Dallas Cowboys cheerleader uniform custom-made, shaved his legs and bankrolled the project with $1,200 of his own money. During the game, Bremen burst onto the sidelines in boots, hot pants, falsies and a blond wig. He got out only one cheer – “Go Dallas!” – before Cowboy security had him hogtied and handcuffed. The Cowboys hit Bremen with a $5,000 lawsuit for trespassing and creating a nuisance, and petitioned to have him banned from Cowboy games for life.
- In 1980, Bremen posed as a line judge, referee at Super Bowl XV at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
- In 1982, Bremen, dressed as the San Diego Chicken, was stopped from entering Super Bowl XVI at the Pontiac Silverdome.
- At the 1979 U.S. Open, Bremen (who had a 7 handicap) snuck on to Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, and played a practice round with Wayne Levi and Jerry Pate. He returned for an encore at the 1980 U.S. Open at the Baltusrol Golf Club, where he played so poorly in a practice round that a spectator asked the United States Golf Association’s P.J. Boatwright, Jr. how such a lousy golfer had made it through qualifying.
- In 1985, Bremen played a practice round with Fred Couples, Jay Haas, and Curtis Strange at the U.S. Open at the Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Scouting the course early in the week, Bremen was introduced to Couples, then an up-and-coming pro. “I had a great chuckle with him,” Couples said. Bremen, wearing a disguise and claiming to be a qualifier named Mark Diamond, went in search of Couples, who was playing a practice round with Haas.
- At the 1985 Emmy Awards in Pasadena, Bremen suddenly rose from a front-row seat and accepted from a confused Peter Graves a Best Supporting Actress award for Hill Street Blues actress Betty Thomas. Bremen was arrested and fined $175 for his stunt. He later apologized to Thomas, telling her he had really thought she wasn’t there to accept her award.
In November 2013, director Matt Dilmore’s short documentary entitled “The Great Imposter” debuted as part of ESPN Films’ 30-for-30 shorts series. The 10-minute film stands as an oral history of Bremen’s exploits and features interviews with members of the Bremen family as well as baseball great George Brett and sports reporter Jeremy Schaap. The film was produced by Brendan McFadden, aired online on Grantland.com, and was praised publicly by the likes of Keith Olbermann.The film won an Emmy Award in 2014.
In 2005, Bremen claimed to be retired from gatecrashing. Bremen died of esophageal cancer on his 64th birthday, leaving behind his wife Margo and three children.
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