Fifty pounds of scrap aluminum only cost Richard Ramirez five dollars. It has since turned his house on the South Side of San Antonio into a local landmark.
Ramirez can’t remember exactly when – sometime between 1999 and 2003, he says – that he ran into someone who had a bunch of scrap metal in the flatbed of his truck. They were two-foot-tall metal letters, taken from the signage of a closed-down store. While the man valued his metal at $1 per letter, Ramirez saw inspiration to create a “SPURS” sign for the front of his house.
There wasn’t a letter P, so Ramirez took an extra R, cut off a leg and had himself “SPURS.”
Now, hundreds of fans stop by Pendleton Street to take pictures at every playoff run. A local rapper has shot a music video at the house. A local artist has drawn a painting of the place. And Ramirez is known as “The guy with the Spurs house.”
“Best purchase I ever made,” Ramirez said. “I wanted to show my appreciation for the team and share my pride with everybody. And it’s just brought me all kinds of fun.”
Many San Antonians decorate their houses with Spurs flags and signs, especially once the playoffs begin. Ramirez’s metal Spurs sign may be the city’s most recognized front-gate accessory.
The sign stays up year-round. At Halloween, castle walls surround the sign for trick-or-treaters. At Christmas, the sign gets lights. And when the playoffs get going, flags and banners line the house’s fence as well.
A few years ago, when the Spurs were trailing in a series, Ramirez added a sign that said, “Honk If You Believe.” He hasn’t put the sign back up in years, not that it has stopped fans from honking.
“Police officers will come by to ask me what the score is,” Ramirez said. “Strangers have driven by and stopped to watch the game with us.”
Ramirez, 48, has lived in the house for his entire life. He is there now with his wife, Adriana, and their two children. He doesn’t remember exactly when he put up the sign, but knows it was sometime between the Spurs’ first championship in 1999 and their second title in 2003. Those are the dates he uses to mark time, because he was in his front yard for all the clinching moments.
“The first championship is still my favorite,” he said. “I’ve loved this team ever since I went to my first game at HemisFair Arena when I was 8, and they were still in the ABA. We’ve watched them the whole time. I just remember when they won, I hugged my best friend, and we were grown men in tears.”
Ramirez watches every game in his yard, a couple of feet away from the sign. Back-to-back games get tough on him, since he tries to throw a barbecue for every tip-off. Games also can be tough on anyone watching the game with Ramirez, since he’s a man of superstition.
In the 2007 playoffs, Ramirez’ ritual was to watch every game outdoors and shirtless, with his buddy Paul on his left, his friend “Skittles” on the right and his Spurs hat hanging off the TV.
“We won the title that year, so it worked” he said.
Inside, the house is filled with Spurs bottles, cereal boxes and other memorabilia. Ramirez’s prized possession is a game-worn jersey of his favorite Spur of all-time, Sean Elliott.
A former background vocalist for Tejano singer Eddie Gonzalez, health issues have kept Ramirez at home for the past few years.
But it hasn’t stopped him from being on his front lawn for every game. Ramirez jokes that he can’t go to the AT&T Center for a game, because if he wasn’t at home when the Spurs were playing, his neighbors would be worried.
“He has rough days sometimes,” said his wife, Adriana. “During games though, he comes to life. This is his house, and he made it the Spurs House.”