Lifelong 49ers Fan Turns 2,500-Mile Trip into 25

Ohio 49ers Fan Uses Distance from Favorite Team to His Advantage

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Lifelong 49ers Fan Turns 2,500-Mile Trip into 25
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Lifelong Ohion 7 49ers fan Gary Althiser tracks down 49ers tackle Alex Boone in Youngstown, Ohio. The …

Yahoo News asked big-time fans of the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens to send in photos that show the wacky and fanatic side of sports fandom. Here's one.

It wasn't exactly stalking, but it felt like it. I've loved the 49ers ever since that fateful day in 1985 at the ripe old age of 7. My aunt was rooting for "the Dolphins and Dan Marino." My response: "I'm rooting for the red and gold team and that Joe guy!" I've watched every 49ers play since then, and outside of three away games I'd never seen a 49er in person -- that was about to change.

49ers ownership resides in Youngstown, Ohio, and a friend in the media told me the team was staying in town and knew the exact hotel. No longer were they a 2,500-mile pipe dream -- now just a mere 25. I had to go to that hotel.

I told myself if I couldn't meet them, I had to at least see them. Peeking inside the entrance, 2 players were watching ESPN. My heart drops. "No autographs," security says.

I compose myself and walk to the bar for a drink and hope for the best. Just then a 6'8, 320-pound giant walks in. A fellow Buckeye and 49er -- Alex Boone! He signs my shirt, takes a picture, slaps me five, and I need a tissue. No. 1 on the bucket list was officially eliminated; a win Sunday eliminates No. 2. Go 49ers!

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