Bob Grotz from Syracuse, Ind. is one of drum corps biggest fans, but most people won't recognize him under that name. When Grotz attends drum corps competitions, he becomes "The Patch Man," donning his long blue jacket which holds more than 200 patches from various drum corps. He has been collecting patches for almost three decades from every corps he has ever seen.
"I started this collection on my coat in 1979 of every corps that I could find that had a patch," said Grotz. "If they didn't have a patch, I would ask them to make one special just for me to put on this coat because every corps that I see, whether they're division III, II, I or adult, they are all excellent."
Grotz's fascination with drum corps began in 1975, when four brothers from his hometown marched with the Cavaliers. They turned him on to drum corps that year and since then, Grotz has been a fan. He marched as a member of a parade corps called the Wawasee Warriors from 1975-1977, and feels very fortunate and proud to have had that experience.
"When I first saw how amazing drum corps is, I wanted to know where it had been all my life," said Grotz. "Now, I just can't get enough of it. All the excitement and all the hard work that these kids and young adults put into their shows is just amazing."
The oldest patches on his jacket date back to 1975 from a show in Michigan City, Ind., where he bought his first patches from the Cavaliers and Phantom Regiment. Grotz has been offered money for many of the patches on his jacket, but he refuses every time. He says that these patches are more than just decorations for him; they are a representation of the love he has for drum corps, and how each corps in the activity deserves recognition.
Although Grotz will not be able to attend Drum Corps International World Championships this year, he does his best to go to as many drum corps shows as he can to support every corps that steps onto the field.
To all the corps' members in Drum Corps International, Grotz said, "Do your best and go all the way. No matter how big or small you are, the 'Patch Man' is proud of each and every one of you."