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?

5 Comments

  • Aaron says:

    I moved to Ohio in 1977 where seeing baseball was an absolute joy. Prior to this, the only thing close was an occasional Spring Training game while living in Arizona. One might think watching the Indians and associating the team with joy is ridiculous. However, when one is without professional baseball, one learns not to take the team for granted. I learned many lessons watching the Indians, win or lose. Two such lessons I value are commitment (for better or worse) and perserverance.

  • Kyle says:

    I was 7 or 8 years old and growing up in central Indiana. I couldn’t really connect with either of the Chicago teams or the Cardinals like most people in this area seem to do and my parents weren’t into sports. Major League 2 had just come out and that 1995 team was just very likeable and fun to watch. Been a Tribe fan ever since!

  • Steven Samaco says:

    For me my Tribe fandom is all about the women in my life. When I was about 4-5 my mom would watch the Indians every night, no matter what. My father was a long distance truck driver and I was often home with just my mother and my little sister in the evening. Watching the Tribe with her just sort of became our thing. I started dating my wife when I was 16 in 1991, she also grew up a huge Tribe fan. Our first date was September 4, 1991 to a Canton Akron Indians game at old Thurman Munson Stadium. Our favorite date activity quickly became attending Tribe games starting in 1992 when I was old enough to drive with just me and her up to the stadium. The second half of the 90′s were a BLAST! My oldest daughter was born in 2005. Of course I exposed her to the Tribe very early on, but her interest took off like wildfire! She is absolutely in love with the team, we go to about 10 games a year and she is constantly on this Facebook fan page we found with highlights synced to Tom Hamilton’s call. She visits it at least a few times a week. I think we’ve watched Pronk’s walk off grand slam about 1,000 times-and it still gives me chills. I swear if the Tribe ever won the WS I’d cry like a baby!

  • TomW says:

    My Tribe fandom began at an early age. My first game was opening day, 1970. I was astonished that my dad would take me out of school to go. Sam McDowell pitched. Graig Nettles played third and went horizontal to try to catch a foul ball right in front of the third base seats where we were sitting. I was hooked!
    Stephanie, I’m with you on the other sports. I used to watch the Browns until they moved and then realized three years later that I hadn’t watched a single football game after that. Watched LeBron and the Cavs play a couple of times but never regularly. To me there are just two sports seasons, “baseball” and “waiting for baseball.”

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I think that someday we will be rewarded for sticking with the Tribe through the good and the bad (and like Steven, I’d probably cry too if they won it all). There’s something special about sticking with a team through the bad times – the good times are that much more rewarding. My husband is a bandwagon Yankees fan who says he couldn’t “stand the misery of being an Indians fan.” But I think that loses its luster…in 2009 he barely seemed to care that they won again.

    One positive about my detachment toward other sports – I do pretty well at fantasy football. I could care less about the teams and the players, so I pick things more rationally.