Since there hasn’t been any new news on the Indians, I decided to change pace a bit and talk a bit about fandom in general.
Recently, I saw an article entitled “How We Became Sports Fans: The Tyranny Of Fathers.” It focused on the idea of why we become sports fans and why we cheer for a specific team. Data states that we adapt to our father’s interests, something the funny video attached to the article does not display. (I have to say, if my child ever declared “I’m a Yankees fan” I’d probably also tell them that they needed to find a new place to live).
It got me thinking about why I like sports in the first place, and how I selected my teams. As much as I’d like to say that I broke the mold and didn’t get my sports fan tendencies from my father, I did. In fact, you can see sports interests pretty much trickle down through the males in my family, occasionally snagging a female or two, like myself.
In my family we always watched baseball. When the baseball season ended, we pretty much just waited for spring. Others in the family adopted football and basketball teams, but in my house, we waited until pitchers and catchers reported. Later in life, I started to watch some basketball and football, but never with the passion that I reserved for baseball alone.
I remember playing baseball with a wiffle bat and ball before I even started Kindergarten. I was seven when I was supposed to attend my first professional baseball game – a contest between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros. (Growing up midway between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, we always followed the Pirates and the Indians). I say “supposed to attend” because the game was moved from a 7:05 start time to a 1:05 start for a national television broadcast and we arrived after it was over. A short time later I finally saw my first real baseball game, between the Pirates and Cubs. A short time later I saw the Indians and the Twins at Municipal Stadium.
Over time, I started to pay closer attention to the Indians, and to leave the Pirates behind. It wasn’t just the Indians successes during the 1990s; it was also the fact that the Pirates roster seem to change to frequently, and I was less attached to the players. I became attached to Jacobs Field and preferred to spend my time there.
Perhaps I’m feeling a bit nostalgic because the World Series is over. Perhaps I’m a little jealous of Cardinals fans, who now have two World Series titles in the past 5 years, while the Indians haven’t enjoyed one in 63. I just wanted to take a moment to think about why I follow the teams that I do, and why I followed baseball in the first place. I guess the article was correct for me at least – I initially selected my sports fandom from my father, who inherited it from his father.
How about you? How did you start watching baseball and following the Indians?