It’s been a decade and a half since the Baltimore Orioles have stirred excitement so far into the season. Now that they're 64-53 and in contention for a playoff berth, fans have plenty to talk about. Now, enter: Neal Moorhouse, aka “Carne Cabeza” which just barely translates into “Meat Head.” Once in June and twice so far this month, the 31-year-old Federal Hill resident has attended games shirtless, in a Mexican wrestling mask and tights, sometimes with the words "free hugs" painted on his generously sized chest. Moorhouse has been shown in the stands during a game broadcast and on ESPN's "Around the Horn." He's getting a little media attention and has launched Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Moorhouse works for an embroidery company, Cum Shaw Inc., in Rockville during the day. Saturday nights, you can find him behind the bar at popular Fed Hill watering hole Nobles. He was kind enough to answer our pressing questions via email about his alter ego, his favorite Orioles and what he eats to maintain his luchador physique.
How did you come to begin dressing like a Luchador?
For as long as I can remember, I have always worn crazy outfits. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not afraid to dress up for any occasion. I have no shame and it's fun. I own five different "onesies" (Good Luck Care Bear, a Penguin, a turtle, an Orioles/Ravens onesie, and a red one I wear during Christmas season). Additionally I have a turkey suit for thanksgiving and a full 3-piece mariachi suit for Cinco de Mayo. When during my normal searches online, I came across a Ravens Mexican Wrestling mask and immediately bought it! I was able to make a cape at my work, and bought a purple speedo and thus, Carne Cabeza (a name which I always thought would be a great Mexican Wrestler name) was born. I first tried it out this year at Cinco de Mayo. Obviously it was a hit! Since Cinco de Mayo falls during baseball season, I immediately sought out to get an orange and black mask to begin my Orioles version of Carne.
How did you come to acquire your mask and cape?
I contacted a mask [wholesaler] and was instructed that I could not buy just one mask, and that I had to order 50 of them in order to make it happen. So I did what any ‘normal’ person would do, I bought 50 orange and black wrestling masks. Once they had arrived (along with my speedo and cape, which again I designed at my work), I had a dilemma: What the hell am I going to do with 49 orange and black masks?? I knew that No Idea Tavern gave out free tickets to games provided you bought at least one drink and figured he'd be a good person to contact about setting up a party. So that's what happened. We packaged a happy hour, a ticket to the game, and a mask and we all had a blast!
What benefits have come about from your ventures? Free drinks? Attention from girls? Free seats? Or just free hugs?
I do this purely for fun -- and for Baltimore pride, but mostly fun. With that being said, I wouldn't say that I have received any perks from doing this. A couple of smiles from kids as they give me a high five and the faces of those who might be excited to take my picture. Only once have I actually received something. A guy at Tuesday’s (August 14) game decided it would be funny to tip me $1. I guess that counts as a perk.
Did any of these perks or the potential to gain these perks inspire you to begin expressing your fandom by your dress? What do you hope to inspire by dressing like a luchador? An Orioles pennant? Inspiring little kids? World peace? A balanced economy?
Fun. Fun inspired me to become Carne Cabeza. That and I wouldn't really consider myself normal. Crazy, weird, I don't know -- all I know is that it is fun.
Describe your background as an Orioles fan; when did you start watching?
I live and breathe Baltimore! I have some sort of weird pride for this city. I love meeting people from other places and letting them know where I come from and how awesome Baltimore is. I have always been an Orioles fan. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of friends who follow the team way more closely than I do. They can name every player for the past 10 years, or give you some random statistic at the drop of a dime. I wish I could have that kind of knowledge about my team. But that doesn't mean I don't love them.
What's your earliest memory of fandom?
I remember going to the old Memorial Stadium. I vividly remember a conversation with my dad that seems absolutely absurd to me now. We're talking a good 10-15 years before it happened, but I can still remember it to this day. We were sitting in the stands and he turns to me and tells me that Cal Ripken holds the current active record for consecutive games played. I asked him how much longer until he breaks the record and he said that it would be another 10 years, or so, before that happened. It seemed like such a long time to me so I asked him if it was possible and he said yes. Who would have thought that he actually would wind up with that record?
How do you respond to ... comments [regarding Wild Bill Hagy]? Do you feel pressure being compared to a local legend?
Wild Bill Hagy is a legend in Baltimore. There is absolutely no way I could ever replace him! I strive to be like him, but I won't ever be able to hold a candle to his legacy! What we do have in common, however, is that we both strove to make this game fun for everyone. Sometimes you need someone to help light that spark that turns what could be a boring baseball game into something fun and exciting. I want Baltimore fans to get involved. It's time to bring the energy that Wild Bill gave us back to Baltimore!
How many games do you go to in any given season? Do you have ... season tickets?
With work and bartending, I actually don't get to make it to many games. Since this whole Carne Cabeza thing blew up, I have been dealing with a lot of pressure to make it to more games. Living about two blocks away from the stadiums does make it easier. From here on out, I will try to make it to as many games as possible. I just hope people don't expect me to make it to every game. Wild Bill was a cab driver. I am sure it was easier to manipulate his schedule around Orioles games. I, unfortunately, don't have that luxury. Probably another reason I could never replace him.
Who is your favorite Oriole today?
Adam Jones, hands down! He's got a fire to him that most players don't, nowadays. He's got an "I don't care attitude." He doesn't care if you like him or not, he's here to play ball, and play ball he does!
Who is your favorite Oriole of all time? Why?
Eddie Murray! I grew up on that guy! I was upset when I had to work during his statue unveiling and giveaway! I would love to meet that guy some day! I still remember being mad when he left, and completely joyful when he came back. You can't beat those mutton chops!
Walk through your gameday routine…
Since Carne Cabeza, my gameday routine has been altered. It used to be: Go to Nobles for happy hour drinks and then make the trip across Hamburg Street bridge. Now there is a lot more involved. If it's a weekend game, I have time to hit up Nobles before the game. Then I go home and [don] the Carne Cabeza attire. After that I hop on my adult big-wheel (yes, I own an orange and black, adult big-wheel - it's pretty sweet) and drive it over the bridge to the game.
What are you necessary consumables on gameday? Pickles Pub? Boogs? Natty Boh? Brats? Peanuts from street vendors? Etc.
I'm sorry; did you say something about food? I'm fat, so yes, all of the above.
Moorhouse plans on going to tonight's game against the Red Sox and also Friday's Ravens game in his purple outfit.