At 6-foot-2 and roughly 300 pounds, 24-year-old Nino Dandan looks more like a University of Georgia defensive lineman than a sprinter who dazzles fans between innings during Gwinnett Stripers minor league baseball games in Gwinnett County, Georgia.
Dandan isn’t the first in the Atlanta Braves organization to do some mid-inning sprinting. That honor belongs to Nigel Talton, the man known as “The Freeze” in SunTrust Park, who, at a near Olympic level, dashes the hopes of most who race him even with the five-second head start they get in the roughly 175-meter race.
The attraction has been a fan favorite since 2017—and a favorite of Dandan’s since he had accepted a corporate partnership trainee position for the Braves’s Triple A affiliate, the Stripers. After all, Dandan, who has been around 300 pounds during his high school days when he played nose tackle, had always been fast.
“My sophomore year of college, I dropped 60 pounds and started working out more, doing cardio and that’s when my body took this shape,” Dandan told Runner’s World. “Since then, I put all of the weight back on, but my body still looks athletic and I kept getting faster somehow. I played quidditch in college at George Mason University and I was faster than all of the athletic-looking people.”
Those wheels have stuck with him postcollege, and also inspired his first pitch to the administration when he joined the Stripers: a parody of The Freeze franchise.
“I said, ‘I’m fat. I can do it,’” Dandan explained. “So I got the okay to do it.”
The front office loved the parody idea, and in late April, Dandan donned his shimmering-silver, skintight racing suit, goggles, and basketball shorts for the first time, taking on the persona of “The Fridge.”
Like The Freeze, The Fridge would race unsuspecting fans around the warning track. But instead of the fan getting a five-second lead, it’s Dandan stumbling out of the gate for five seconds, playing up his out-of-shape appearance and leaning against the wall while panting allowing the fan to pass him with ease.
It is then that The Fridge turns on the jets, storming around the warning track like a freight train.
“For anyone that hasn’t seen it, they always come, see me, and think, ‘He’s fat. He’s got no chance,’” Dandan said. “The team’s MC tells me that people start screaming and cheering from their seats and it gets electric as soon as I turn it on and as I pass the person and as I cross the line.”
No one really expects a guy Dandan’s size to win, but so far he boasts a 14-5 record on the season. That well-above .500 record record was even achieved without any training.
“I have no training regimen, I don’t go to the gym, and I don’t stretch,” he said. “I have a gym membership that has gone unused for the last four to five months during the season. The only training I technically do is walking around the stadium during games.”
The season is almost over for Stripers and therefore Dandan. He hopes to continue on with the organization and his role as The Fridge next season.
And one day, he hopes he can take on The Freeze. Though The Freeze has speed, Dandan believes that on his home turf, he’d have a shot at taking him down. At SunTrust, though, that may be a different story.
Either way, his plan is simple: “I’ll try to make it as close as possible.”
“When I win, I feel amazing. When I lose, I just feel really tired,” Dandan said. “During the race, I go by both bullpens, and the other teams bullpen is always screaming for me if I win, and if I lose, they say, ‘Of course you lost. You’re fat.’ But as long as whatever I do out there is fun and funny, it’s worth every second to me.”
From: Runner’s World US
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