I’m always interested in why a person has the rooting interests they do. Why are you a fan of your team? Did you grow up in the area? Did your parents cheer for the team and you inherited it? Did you adopt the team after moving?
I think I’ve talked about my fandom journey in the past here; my family is from the St. Louis area and my grandpa was a Cardinals fan, but I never felt like that was my team. After falling in love with baseball after the 1985 World Series, I sought games out. The teams I was able to watch the most of were the Cubs and Braves, so by default, they were my favorites. I watched them with interest but didn’t consider anything a favorite until 1988, when a dorky, pitcher obsessed child became enchanted by a skinny little pitcher named Greg Maddux and the rest is history.
RaysFan posted a fun little article about his early baseball history and Reds fandom. I’d love to hear more from the rest of you all about how you came to this beautiful game, and which team captured your heart and mind.
11 thoughts on “Why Do You Wear the Laundry?”
I grew up in north-central PA, in a town that was roughly equidistant from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Most people in town rooted for the Phillies, whose games were on the local radio station, (and summer evenings will always remind me of hearing Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn at my grandparents’ house) and the Steelers, because the Eagles sucked in the 70s, I guess. I, however, was a Pirates fan (and a Dolphins fan, because 17-0 means bandwagon for a young boy), which meant static-filled broadcasts of KDKA AM where I could only sometimes hear Milo Hamiltion and Lanny Frattare tell me “There was no doubt about it” after another Bucs win. I stayed loyal to them even after moving the DC Metroplex in the late 80s, right up through Sid Bream sliding home in game 7 of the 92 NLCS.
After that, the Pirates began their wandering in the wilderness, and absent today’s viewing options, they got hard to follow from afar. At the same time, I started playing fantasy baseball (NL only), and I learned that the only way to succeed at that game is to not have a team to root for, other than your fantasy team, so I went that route for a while.
I quit playing fantasy baseball about the time Les Expos moved to DC, and so I adopted them, because it’s easiest on a sports fan to follow the local team. (I’d never really been a hockey fan, but I’d already adopted the Caps a few years earlier, and so this became the blueprint for my adopting the Nats.) It was a painful first few years, but it’s been well worth it since 2012, even with all the postseason heartbreak prior to last year.
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SG, I didn’t know you had been a Pirates fan! And I totally get the root for the home team thing; that is why I also have a soft spot for the Brewers, having lived in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin for nearly 15 years. I’ve attended more Brewers games than any other.
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FYI football immortal Don Shula passed away today at 90. I was going to put up a separate post but got tired of wasting my time trying to find an image this piece of shit hosting site of ours could upload without choking on it. In any case, RIP Big D.
Hats off for a great coach.
Indeed. In the news coverage of Shula’s death, I was reminded of the ultimate compliment paid to him once by Bum Phillips:
“He can take his’n and beat your’n, and he can take your’n and beat his’n.”
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I’m sure I’ve told this before, but…my mother is a Michigander. Her large family is made up of diehard Tigers fans. My maternal grandfather was a pitcher from a small town in the Mitt, and in the 30’s, he was drafted by the Tigers. He never made it to the majors with them, but our family has always stayed loyal to the team. Grandpa played in the independent leagues for awhile after the Tigers were done trying to develop him. In the end, he couldn’t give up drinking to succeed. My mom told me there were lots of euphemisms for hungover in his assessment reports.
There is some haziness in his narrative for me. Although Grandpa spent most of his time with the Tigers organization, he did apparently make a big league appearance for the Phillies once or twice. I think it was during WW2 when there was a shortage of sober players. His B-Ref page is full of wrong information (he played for Beaumont, not Tulsa) and I don’t really have a strong sense of his story. But, the legacy of fandom remains.
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I grew up with a love of baseball mainly due to the fact that my friends and I all played it and watched it locally. There was an amateur/industrial league in those days, with many of the small towns on both sides of the New Brunswick-Maine border fielding teams, and our house was just a ways beyond the left field chain-link fence of the town ball field. I could sit on our huge front veranda and watch pretty good games all summer long. It wasn’t uncommon that a home run ended up on our lawn, and we would just pick up the ball, trot across the road and throw it back to the left fielder.
Naturally, as a Maritimer growing up in the 60s/70s, you rooted for the Red Sox as they were much closer and seemingly more accessible than the far-off Montreal Expos. Thus I grew up as mainly an AL fan. As a teenager, my friends and I would take turns hitting fly balls to each other while going through the lineup of the late-70s Red Sox (Burleson… Doyle… Scott… YAZ!… Fisk…)
About this time, however, I heard of a new team in the American League, vying with the mighty Red Sox and hated Yankees… a team called the Toronto Blue Jays. I followed them occasionally, but their games were still harder to find on the radio than the Bosox games. It wasn’t until the mid-80s, when the Jays started to see some success, that I really became a die-hard fan. I still remember the thrill of sitting in the enlisted club at Naval Air Station Bermuda, where we were deployed for a couple of weeks, and watching the Jays take on the Royals in the ALCS. We Jays fans were few but we were loud and enthusiastic.
When I was stationed in Germany from 1988 to 1993, baseball was hard to find with any regularity, save for some box scores in the Stars and Stripes US military newspaper. In mid-October of 1989, we were deployed back to Canada for a couple of weeks and I was anticipating watching some World Series games, but the Loma Prieta earthquake put the kibosh on that plan.
Then came 1992 and I was still in Germany. When the Jays made the postseason, I wondered how I was going to see any games, then a buddy told me that Sky Sports out of the UK would be covering all the games live (starting at about 11:00 pm our time). He told me I could come over and watch all the baseball I wanted as long as a) I didn’t wake him or his wife when I left at 2:00 am-ish, and b) I didn’t drink ALL his beer. Thus it was that, from a few thousand miles away in the middle of the night, I was able to see my boys win their first World Series and I think that was my proudest moment as a Blue Jays fan.
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I’m a little surprised your base didn’t get AFN TV (Armed Forces Network) from us Americans. We always got a game of the week and the playoffs and WS. Night games were brought live and also rebroadcast the next day.
AFN couldn’t sell ads though, so the commercial breaks were wall-to-wall public service ads…a lot of which were painfully stupid and annoying, to the point I was actually glad to see regular commercials again once I got home again. For a little while.
I think they did have AFN on the base proper, but we were living in apartments at the time, in German towns, so that was not an option.
The biggest difference I noticed in the American and Canadian bases abroad was this:
For our two bases in Germany (Baden-Soellingen for the Air Force and Lahr for the Army) single members had to live on base for 6 months, at which point we were “encouraged” to move out on the economy, and hopefully learn the language and customs of our host country. Married couples/families could opt for married quarters (but in nearby towns, not on base) or apartments. We got paid in Deutsche Marks, all the stores on base took only Deutsche Marks and our exchange store and commissary stocked as many local brands as Canadian ones. Every building ran on 220V 50Hz power, same as the local area (there was a brisk business in buying/renting/borrowing transformers).
From all the US bases I visited in Germany, my impression was that the US Armed Forces, when they opened a base abroad, brought a little piece of the US to whatever country they were in — everything was in US dollars, most stores stocked US brands only, people lived mainly on base, where everything was 110-120v 60 Hz, just like back home. I may be mistaken, but from what I saw, that was the norm.
Everything was indeed in US dollars. Electricity depended upon the base/ housing…some places I lived used 110, others 220…in those places we were issued transformers to convert back to 110. Many families did live off base. I lived in Germany for 4 years as a kid—three different places as my dad got transferred twice over there…we lived in a German village for one, in an American housing development off base in Heidelberg for another, and on base in the third. We kids did go the American schools, but German was a required subject.
As an Air Force officer myself, my Germany assignments were are short term, never more than 3 months, and I was always kept in singles housing on base for those.
Well, there was an exception to the singles housing thing…for a while I was assigned as a flight surgeon with a transport (C-17) squadron. When I flew as part of the crew, we were generally only in Germany a couple days and often billeted at a hotel off base. As it happened, one of those times was in September, 2001. We got there on the 10th. The next morning, I went for a hike up to a nearby castle and back. When I got back, the mission commander found me and told me what was going on (the first WTC had been hit). I watched the rest unfold on German TV,. Our crew was stuck off base for the next 4 days…nobody got on or off any American base oversees those 4 days. As soon as the base reopened, we got a call, and next thing you know, we’re winging our way to Jordan.