Oh Bay Bombers, won't you stop in your roller derby tracks and tell us how you've been? San Francisco's famed co-ed blocking, pivoting, jamming squadron has been packing ever-increasing crowds into Kezar Pavilion, their historical home this year – and no wonder, they're killing it on track. To tell us by just how much, we wrangled a phone interview with general manager Jim Fitzpatrick, who we last checked in with shortly before his home opening match with league Lucifer Georgia Hase's Brooklyn Red Devils.
San Francisco Bay Guardian: Jim you old so-and-so! We hear you've been hit with a typhoon of reality TV shows [this year Bombers have been featured on both Jerry Seinfeld's Marriage Ref and TLC's Ultimate Cake-Off] What's up with that? Is derby just the larger than life kind of visuals those shows look for?
Jim Fitzpatrick: We've been hit with a lot of great media coverage. We even have the German version of Borat coming to film the tournament next month and there's another potential project – that's what's so bizarre about this. Years ago I skated, I blew out my shoulder, roller derby ended. Then I became a firefighter, got hurt, that ended. My doctor is actually working on a reality show about dealing with people with chronic pain, and I was so successful in that, I'll be on of the first people they profile on the show.
SFBG: Damn, superstar. So how's the actual season been going?
JF: It's been going great. The crowds have dramatically increased. It's bizarre, but if you look back and trace the history of the sport from the Depression on up, during bad economic times and times of war -- it's one of those things, it's an outlet for people that they can get their aggressions out and root for somebody that reminds them of themselves. Some of our skaters are kind of small, they wouldn't be able to compete in traditional sports like football and basketball. But put them on skates and they're amazing athletes! If you look at the crowd you see anything there from grandmas to little kids.
A man that just screams reality TV: Bombers general manager Jim Fitzpatrick. Photo by Tim Figueras
SFBG: What's the Bombers' record right now?
JF: We've won all four of our regular season games.
SFBG: Nice. What's your secret?
JF: Me. [laughs] It's one of those things, roller derby has so many diverse people that get into it. Our group is so diverse, but we really get along – it's the camaraderie.
SFBG: You have a lot of history with some of the team managers you've been going head to head with. Does it change a game for you when you're competing against someone you're acquainted with?
JF: I don't let it get to me. Dave [“Wildman”] Marez was a guy I broke in with, trained with -- we both started out with the Bay Bombers, but he left the team and we skated against each other for most of our years in the league. We get together off the track and get along great -- but on the track it's an intense rivalry.
Kezar Stadium cradles those that throw the bows. Photo by Tim Figueras
SFBG: A favorite on track moment from the season so far?
JF: Theres a couple. I have a girl on my team, Lisa Hartmayer, that blows me away. She's a registered nurse and she was one of the Olympic torch bearers in San Francisco for the Beijing Olympics. She's taken off this year, scoring a lot of points. Very physical. She's got an advantage because she's an ice hockey skater, so she loves the physical.
SFBG: Prediction for your upcoming tournament?
JF: I'm predicting we're going to be in the finals against the Red Devils. The last few championship games we've ended up facing them. It's been close, but we've beat them both times. They're one of the best teams out there.
The Bombers will be one of the top four teams in the league playing in next month's Calvello Cup (Fri/27-Sat/28). You can also catch recordings of past games on KFTY TV50 digital 199. They'll air Aug 15 and Aug 22, 11 a.m.- 12 p.m.
The Calvello Cup
Fri/27 and Sat/28 7:30 p.m., $5-20
755 Stanyan, SF