June 13, 2014 at 9:48 AM ET
If you think there's a bigger New York Rangers fan than Joey Clams, fuhgettaboudit.
His real name is Joey Fredette, but the 48-year-old with the quintessential New Yawk accent is known mainly as Rangers superfan "Joey Clams" because he once ate 12 dozen raw clams in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn back in 1983. During "The Tonight Show" on Thursday, Jimmy Fallon aired a clip of Fredette doing an interview with a local television station at a Rangers game and then did a great impression of Joey Clams' accent and mannerisms. The man himself joined the TODAY anchors out on Rockefeller Plaza on Friday, and he had a special message for the pregnant Savannah Guthrie.
"May your first child be a masculine child,'' he told her.
He then made sure to give a shout out to all his "goombadys" (that's "friends" in New Yawk) like Bobby Blue Eyes, Anthony L. and Rocco.
When asked why he's such a big Rangers fan, Fredette responded, "I was born that way. My father's a big sports fan. I was going to Rangers games since I was a kid. Sunday mornings, I slept at my nanny's in Brooklyn. She's frying the meatballs, we ate at 2:30/3:00, [and at] 6:00, my father, my uncle, my aunt, we go to the games.''
Joey Clams' beloved Rangers are on the ropes down 3-1 in their Stanley Cup Finals series against the Los Angeles Kings as they cling to the hope that they can turn it around and win their first NHL title since 1994. The Rangers will try to keep their season alive in Game Five at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday night.
"I think we're going to win,'' Fredette said. "I think we'll be up 3-1 and score an empty-net goal, and we'll bring it back here [to New York] on Monday night. We're going to go crazy. Of course, I'll be there."
Fredette grew up in Brooklyn and has been to hundreds of Rangers games since the 1970s. He also lived in Staten Island before moving to New Jersey in 2002. A father of two daughters, he hasn't been to as many Rangers games in person because he suffered a loss of eyesight a few years ago due to detached retinas.
A former New York City bus driver, Fredette also has been involved in more than just cheering for the Rangers. In 2010, he was identified as a money collector/distributor who was part of an Internet gambling operation that booked nearly $178 million in wagers over nearly three years before being dismantled by the New York City Police Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.