ADAM GOCKOWSKI exploded onto the Cleveland sports scene—almost literally—in 2010, when he torched a LeBron James jersey in his yard after "The Decision", a protest that was picked up by local media. Four years later he was back in the news when he was sworn in as the Governor of Brohio, his oath of office administered at Progressive Field by Ketchup, the Indians' hot dog mascot.
This is an article from the July 21, 2014 issue
What exactly is Brohio? Technically it exists only on Fridays and Saturdays in section 117. But it's more than just 440 seats. It's a mind-set, a way of life, its tenets handed down by the team's brotastic first baseman, Nick Swisher (left), a man who once cut off the sleeves of his workout T-shirt because, well, "Sun's out, guns out, bro."
Swisher isn't just any bro. He's the broiest bro ever to play for the Indians, broier even than 1970s infielder Jack Brohamer. Swisher is the guy who once said bro, dude or man 57 times in a five-minute interview. Last year the team started handing out blue brohio T-shirts—featuring an outline of the state of Ohio wearing aviator shades—to fans in section 117. Before this season the clan got its own overlord in Gockowski, a 24-year-old videographer who wrapped up the race at Tribe Fest last January, when he presented an autographed picture of himself to Swisher. "He thought that was the funniest thing ever," says Gockowski.
The Guv's job is simple: "Go to games on Friday and Saturday and get the crowd going in section 117," says Gockowski. "My biggest thing is trying to turn Brohio not just into a cheering section but a community." The duties of the office also include performing the occasional matrimonial ceremony, as Gockowski did recently when a pair of Tribe fans from England came all the way to Progressive to renew their wedding vows.
It says something that Swisher remains so beloved in the midst of a season in which he's hitting .208. It can be explained simply: He's there. He's embraced for the same reason fans have been so quick to forgive James (apart from the fact that LeBron is, at heart, a bro). He chose Cleveland. Before last season the Columbus native signed a four-year, $56 million contract, and he did so at a time when the team was down, coming off a 94-loss season.
Sure, there are fans who see his contract as a potential albatross if the 33-year-old doesn't find his stroke soon. But his appeal remains wide-ranging. "You name 'em, they've been there," says Gockowski of his constituents. "Middle-aged women to young children to young guys."
No, being a bro is not a prerequisite. I've been accused of being a hipster. I live in Brooklyn, have a beard and once bought gentian root online so I could make my own bitters. A bro is a Shark to my Jet, a Greaser to my Soc. But in the past month, I've bought—unironically—two Brohio shirts.