It was right around this time last year that I was telling you about a man who's kind of a folk hero to a certain kind of media geek -- phony "man on the street" Greg Packer. Packer is a self-described highway worker from Huntington, N.Y. (that's on Long Island) who somehow has the time and money to attend any big public event on the Eastern Seaboard where journalists are carrying out one of the most dreaded jobs in the business, the man-on-the-street story.
In 2008, Packer came down to Philadelphia for the Phillies' victory parade, and here's what I wrote then:
There are three things certain in life -- death, taxes, and newspaper quotes from "regular Joe" man-on-the-street Greg Packer. The 44-year-old water treatment plant worker from Long Island is a living legend in the news business for getting quoted, usually up in the Big Apple:
NEW YORK He's not just another face in the crowd at concerts, book signings, and sporting events. Somehow, over the course of 10 years, one man has managed to become the media's go-to guy, quoted more than 100 times in various publications, including several prominent newspapers. Greg Packer is the "man on the street."
Packer, 40, of Huntington, N.Y., arrives early to media events. His latest accomplishment: being 15th in line in Washington, D.C., to pay his respects to former President Ronald Reagan. "I'm the best person to come to — anywhere," says Packer. "I always give time, and I always have an answer.
Last year, it was the New York Times that went for Packer's legendary schtick, quoting the Long Islander as saying at the parade, "In New York right now, we have no Mets, no Yankees, no stadiums,” he said. “I came here to represent and cheer our neighbors.”
Now, the World Series has come back to Philly...and so has Packer. This time it was my own Daily News that got punked:
Robinson was like a lot of Yankees fans who made the trip to Philadelphia for a chance to see their team close out their 27th World Series Championship. Tickets would be easier to get last night, they reasoned, than if the series continued in New York tomorrow.
Greg Packer, from Huntington, N.Y., paid $200 for a $125 seat in Section 302.
"That's a bargain," he said, "because if it goes to Game 6, tickets are going to be impossible."
I have to say that as a reporter I find this fascinating -- how did Packer even find Ed Barkowitz, the DN reporter on the story? I did a Google news search to see if any other newspapers hooked up with Packer, and here's the Allentown Morning Call:
Greg Packer, 45, of New York felt confident enough to say ''dynasty'' even before the players took the field.
Both the DN's Barkowitz and the Morning Call reporter might have been in trouble if they worked for the AP. According to Packer's Wikipedia entry:
The Associated Press sent out a memo to its news editors and correspondents, stating in part: "The world is full of all kinds of interesting people. One of them is Greg Packer of Huntington, N.Y., who apparently lives to get his name on the AP wire and in other media. It works: A Nexis search turned up 100 mentions in various publications… Mr. Packer is clearly eager to be quoted. Let's be eager, too — to find other people to quote."
I don't know about that -- personally I like it when Greg Packer comes to Philadelphia to get quoted. It means we've made the big time.