“At the ballpark or even in front of the television, fans are, for the interlude of a few hours, different from whom they are in everyday life. … In the drama that is a baseball game the fan imagines himself not a spectator but a participant, as if the fervor of his rooting will have a bearing on the outcome.” ~ John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball

Sometime in the 1880s or so, newspapers started to mention baseball “fans” and “cranks” and “rooters.” Before that, who knows what they called the men (and they were mostly men) who would sit and watch the other men (and they were mostly men, too) play baseball.

Ty Cobb unkindly called fans “bugs,” but he didn’t have a good word to say about anyone.

Umpires might argue that today’s fans can be rowdy at times, but all in all, fans are a pretty good bunch.

We’re certainly nowhere near as rowdy as our grandparents and great- and great-great grandparents who went to games and shoved their way onto the outfield, or, if the weather was hot, would bully players out of their dugouts and take over the benches in the shade.


— SDN-006846, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum. (1908)

 Police hold back the rowdies at Chicago’s South Side Park on April 14, 1908. The White Sox will defeat the Detroit Tigers 15-8. (And, look at that trash!)

Cranks would fight with other fans, the umpires, and the players. They would throw bricks. Today, I pack my scorecard, maybe some peanuts. Back then, fans would pack bricks and guns, along with their sandwiches and moonshine.

Players would climb into the grandstands and beat up heckling fans. Fans would jump onto the field and clobber a player or ump.

Games were forfeited because fans were jerks.

Ahh, the good old days.

I have been known to complain at games if the person next to me is bogarting my cup holder. (Yours is on the right, Bozo.) Back then, I’d have been lucky to get through the game without losing an eye.

I recently asked a policeman at Oriole Park at Camden Yards what the hardest part of his job was and he said catching the underage drinkers who all sit together in the upper deck on student nights. (Yes, fans today are so well-behaved even the bad ones cooperate by sitting together.)  Other than that, he said, he got paid really well to walk around for a few hours, maintaining the peace and watching the game.

So sure, a few bad fan eggs. But, without us there would be no baseball.  We are the 10th player. We pay the salaries. We are irreplaceable.

That’s why teams have Fan Appreciation Days and lavish gifts on us to lure us to the park – caps and shirts and seat cushions. Bobbleheads that are supposed to look like certain players, but usually don’t.  Garden gnomes that are supposed to look like certain players and sometimes actually do.

Sure, it’s cheap crap, but fans will line up for hours – HOURS – to get our swag.

nick bobblehead

Nick Markakis Bobblehead? Horrible. Did Helen Keller design this?  Socks down! Socks down!

wilson gnome

Wilson Photo: by CBL 62, via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 (2011)

Brian Wilson Garden Gnome? Awesome.

Every baseball fan is a great fan.  Even if you don’t know a balk from a walk, and can’t name your team’s starting pitchers, you’re still all right in my book.

But, some are just a tiny bit all righter. Here are three of them.

On Friday night, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Seattle Mariners 2-1 in 10 innings. These fans were at Seattle’s Safeco Field.

1) Happy Homer.

cruz homer

Who cares if your team just gave up a go-ahead run, you just caught the freaking home run ball!  Good for you, happy Mariners’ fan.  Your team will lose because of that run, but at least you didn’t spill your beer.

(For the record, if you catch a home run ball, keep it. Even if it was hit by the opposition. You may think you’re some hero by throwing it back on the field in disgust, but really, we just think you’re stupid.)

Watch here.

2) One of these fans is not like the others.

oriole fan

This Orioles fan sat in a sea of Mariners on Friday night.

Editor/Husband thinks the guy lost a bet. I think he’s just a very good fan. Sure, he kind of looks uncomfortable and maybe just a little sad. But, at least he didn’t have to worry about being hit on the head with a brick.

Watch here.

3) Rally Kid

rally kid2

First off, there’s that napkin. The rally napkin. If you don’t have a ball cap to twist or turn to spur your team’s late-inning rally, then you get creative. This kid stuck a napkin on his head. Because, hey, why not?

Well, whatever it was, it didn’t work. Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano – the would-be tying run – was called out to end the game after a challenge.

The rally napkin folded like a … a … a napkin.

Ten innings that kid sat through. The tying run is on first and then, suddenly, he is gone. His team has lost.  He is not happy. I love him. I could watch him all day. (He comes at the 1:52 minute mark. He’s worth the wait.)

Watch here.

Don’t worry kid, there’s always tomorrow.


Not done yet. Here’s Fan-Tastic, Part 2 ~ Unruly Fans/Ruly Fans. Click here.


12 thoughts on “Fan-Tastic

  1. If that gnome had been of an Oriole, you might have found one in your garden in a few months. I wouldn’t have been able to resist it:):) I believe some soccer fans carry on where the old-time “rooters” left off. Give me baseball any day.

    • Awww, Gloria! I would have put it up in my massage office, next to my non-baseball gnome! :)

      The Orioles have tried some of the garden gnome giveaways, but they always end up looking exactly like that awful generic Markakis bobblehead. Your Giants and Dodgers big-market/big-money teams seem to spend a little extra to create bobbles and gnomes that actually look something like the players.

      Last night I was watching the Dodgers/Giants game and the Dodgers are giving away a Vin Scully microphone that has Vin Scully saying “It’s Time For Dodger Baseball” when you press a button. Now THAT’S an awesome giveaway!

      Of course, I always end up on non-giveaway games … always!

  2. And you know I can’t pass up commenting on post that mentions the Mariners…

    Happy Homer: 95% agree about about keeping the ball. 5% says to find a kid to give it to. Mind you, in (mumble) years of going to baseball games, I’ve never gotten a home run, or even a foul ball. First one I get, I’m keeping. Second one, I’m probably giving to a kid.

    One of these fans: The really impressive thing is that he’s not just sitting with a random bunch of Mariners fans. That’s the King’s Court he’s plopped down in: a group of fans who paid extra to sit in that section and cheer for King Felix. And yet you’re right: he doesn’t have to worry about bricks. *Or* guns.

    Rally Kid: Damn it, I’ve watched the replays over and over and I still don’t see anything definitive enough to have overturned the original call. “Indisputable evidence,” my . Where’s my brick? The replay ups are in New York. You think they would have overturned that call if Cano was still playing for the Yankees? (Good on the kid. If rally napkins don’t become a thing, there’s no justice in the world.)

    • I wasn’t sure if you were a Mariners fan … have I finally smoked you out? (I was beginning to think only National League fans read this … )

      1) I’m fine giving the ball away to a kid (or to me) … just don’t toss it onto the field to make some statement, because that’s just ridiculous. You’ll regret it. I did mention in passing last October when a Red Sox fan bullied a Tigers home run ball away from another fan and threw it on the field. I’m still steamed about this. (The link is in here:

      2) Ooh, I didn’t realize you had to pay extra for that section … is he going to get in trouble because he didn’t wear the K shirt?

      3) Sigh. Gulp. Sigh. Yes, I agree … Cano looked safe from our replay booth here in Virginia, too. Oh well, the kid’s rally napkin worked on Saturday …

      • 0. I haven’t made a secret of my affiliation. I root for the Giants as the local team, but my first loyalty is to the Ms.

        1. I remember that post. Nice B&W photos. Going after the ball full-on is one thing, but grabbing it away from the person who got it is just tacky. Throwing it back is beyond the pale. I realize it’s traditional in some parks, but I just can’t approve. That’s deviation on the same scale that causes the religious to hurl accusations of heresy.

        2. The extra cost covers the yellow shirt and K card. He won’t get in trouble: nobody is forced to wear the shirt. But he was smart not to pull an equivalent stunt in Oakland. Too many As fans who double as Raiders fans. The vibe can get more than a bit scary there.

        3. I’ll be wearing my napkin this afternoon. Would love to see rookie Elias push his record back over .500.)

        PS: As for gnomes, I’ve got a post coming up on my blog about ’em. I’ll push it a bit and try to get it up this week.

  3. Wonderful blog post.

    You are kinder and more generous than me. All fans are not equal.

    I love to be in the section with the scorecards folks, the families, the father and son watching every pitch, the A’s fans who come out on a cold and foggy Tuesday night to watch the Green and Gold play the Royals and of course, the person who comes out to the game alone to see the pitching match-up or their childhood team (Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs…) when they come into town. They are all great. But I’ve become a little weary of some of the others – the frat/sorority, corporate or others looking for something to do. It’s just another event for too many of the people in the seats. Hey look, the very large scoreboard is telling us to “make noise.” “Let’s do that. Is it time to go now? I hear the crab cakes across the street are quite tasty.”

    I’m with Casey, by the way. In all these years, I have not caught a foul ball or home run. I will have to keep the first one. I have a spot on my desk picked out for it.

    • Some of those kinda-sorta fans are maybe just a step away from the light — with a little care and TLC we might bring them over from the dark side. Plus, those expensive climate-controlled corporate suites help pay the rent, and help keep my bleacher seat costs down! :)

      No foul ball or home run ball for me either … years and years and years of waiting. During the NCAA post-season UVa’s Derek Fisher (now with the single A team for the Astros), tossed a foul ball up to us and the woman in front of me got it. That was as close as I have gotten … I took a picture of her with it, which I posted. So now at least I have a photo to prove I’ve at least been in the neighborhood!

      And, one of my Yoga students gave me a National League ball with some autographs on it that she found at a yard sale … I’ve not come anywhere close to deciphering the names, but it’s a pretty sweet gift!

      • Unfortunately, those suites don’t keep the cost of the rest of the seats down everywhere. With more teams going to demand-based pricing, it’s becoming impossible to afford to go to a game without planning weeks or months ahead.

        In one of my former lives, my grandboss decided to do an outing to an As game. He bought a pile of tickets scattered randomly around the third deck, and way out along the first base line (horrible view of the field). He wanted to encourage people to sit with cow-orkers they didn’t see every day. What actually happened was that we were mixed in with a bunch of strangers and didn’t even see our cow-orkers, let alone sit with them. The grandboss and boss didn’t come. It rained. Single worst time I’ve ever had at a baseball game.

  4. Pingback: Fan-Tastic, Part 2 | The Baseball Bloggess

  5. Pingback: Fan-Tastic, Part 3 | The Baseball Bloggess

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