Parkton man Greg Hudnet is what you call a super fan—to put it mildly.
At 63 years old Hudnet is a retired Baltimore County Fire Department captain who traded in a double starched white button down adorned with 36 years worth of medals for a fuzzy purple hat, matching camouflage pants, a bunch of big, bold, beaded necklaces and two unique cars.
He is the Baltimore Birdman and he loves his hobby.
Hudnet was an instant hit with fans Wednesday and Thursday at the Baltimore County Baby Boomer and Senior Expo. He charmed passersby with the stories behind the two cars that made him the type of guy Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata invites over to his luau.
“We’ve been Colts fans, Ravens fans our entire life,” Hudnet said of his family, standing next to a purple 1952 Buick Special and orange 1941 Plymouth.
Most men ask pro athletes to sign a card or pose for a picture. In Hudnet’s case, they ask him if they can sign his dashboard or the custom outfitted baseball bat turned door handle in the Plymouth (see photos).
“When I was about this big,” he said with his hand hovering just over his knee, “my dad used to take me to the dirt tracks to watch the races.” His father worked as a mechanic in the fire department.
“So I’ve been working on cars my whole life,” he said. Hudnet is also a collector who even after unloading 40 cars, still has 20 in his garage for future projects.
But the process of transforming an old school Buick and an even older model Plymouth began with a simple decal sticker and a love of Baltimore sports.
“When I got the Buick it was already purple and white and I had a “Bad Birds” decal on the back window. I just decided to make it purple and black.”
And then he added custom decals and striping to the front and sides and a pair of glowing red eyes that hang from the front windshield visor.
For kicks he threw in blinking purple LED lights (think Knight Rider) and bright purple under-glow (think Fast and Furious).
“Everybody wants both cars together,” he said joking of the dozens of Baltimore sports events he’s booked with his hobby. “We’ve been everywhere.”
If the cars weren’t enough to turn heads, the Birdman’s signature look draws attention. This is a man who would stick out among fanatics even at a home game.
“When I retired and started wearing this she walked like 15 feet away from me like ‘I don’t know you,’” Hudnet said. There are few 63-year-old man who can pull off purple camouflage pants and enough beaded necklaces to make a New Orleans blush, quite like Hudnet. And there are fewer 60-year-old who are forced to set up a Facebook fan page because his personal page received too many friend requests.
Asked how he though the Orioles would do against the Yankees this week he calmly replied, “They’re going to win the next two.” With Thursday's win, Hudnet is halfway right.
“You’ve got two types of fans," he continued. "You’ve got Ravens fanatics and you’ve got Orioles fans. You’ve got 10 home games and you’ve got 80 home games. They are just two different crowds.”
Which side are you on?