• Baseball Fans: Why Do We Root For Who We Do?

    Posted by on May 29th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    I’ve been introducing my kids to all things Yankees for the past couple of years.

    My daughter, who’s almost eight, has been into it for a while now. In fact, when we went to Bat Day at the Stadium this year, and I suggested in the bottom of the 8th, after two outs – with the Yankees losing six to three – that we leave the park and go out to get something to eat, she looked at me and said “Don’t tell me you’re asking us to leave before a full nine innings are played!” (In the end, due to lobbying by wife and son, both very hungry, we caved and did leave – because the Stadium stopped selling food at that point. But, as we were leaving, my daughter said to me: “When we come to our game next month, there’s no way we’re not staying for the full game.”)

    My son has really been ramping up his Yankees fandom this season. Part of that is because both the kids are playing in Little League this year for the first time. So, we’ve been on baseball/softball overload for the last three months with going to their games, Lakewood BlueClaws games, and Yankees games.

    In addition to Bat Day, I took my son to a game this season where the Yankees pounded the White Sox and we had a lot of fun that day. Since the teams in my kids’ Little League are mostly named after big league teams – he’s on the Cubs and she’s on the Angels – he’s been very interested in learning about what the other teams in baseball are called, where they’re from, etc., outside of the ones that he already knew about (like the Twins and Angels, who he’s also seen at Yankee Stadium before, and the Mets and Red Sox, who he’s heard me talk about when the Yankees play them).

    So, my son knows about the Boston Red Sox…a little bit. And, one day, he comes home from kindergarten and says to me “Dad, I know what the Red Sox wear on their hat. It’s the letter ‘B.'”

    Hearing this, I asked him “What’s this all about?” To that he explained to me that one of his classmates – who I will call “Remy” (to protect his identity) – is a Red Sox fan and that he wears his Red Sox cap to class.

    Now, keep in mind, we live – and our kids attent school – in central New Jersey. So, it’s more typical to see Yankees, Mets and Phillies fans in our neck of the woods.

    Later that night, I asked my wife – who is very involved with my son’s kindergarten class, the kids and the other mothers – “What’s the deal with Remy in our son’s class? The kid wears a Red Sox cap to school?” And, she told me that she’s met Remy’s dad a few times and he’s always wearing something Red Sox related – like a T-Shirt, jacket, or cap – so, he probably got it from his father. “O.K.,” I think to myself, “that” makes sense.

    Moving forward, my son’s kindergarten class had a trip recently to one of these environmental centers where the kids learn about bugs, snakes, frogs and such. And, my wife was on the trip – along with some other moms. The kids were told to wear appropriate clothing for mucking around in the woods looking at this stuff – including caps to keep the bugs out of their hair. And, as you can guess where this is going…”Remy” wore his Red Sox cap.

    Now, as my wife explained it to me, some of the staff at the environmental center were ragging on Remy, pretty good, about being a Red Sox fan. When she told me this, my reaction was “Well, if he’s going to be walking around in New Jersey wearing a Red Sox cap everyday, then he better get used to having to hear about it.”

    My wife’s quick reaction to me saying this was: “Steve, he’s just six years old. Com’on…really?”

    She has a point – of course. And, my next comment was “Hey, then blame his father for doing this to him.”

    This whole thing got me into thinking about why we choose the teams that we do root for…

    I’m a Yankees fan. Both my father and his father were/are Yankees fans. But, no one in my family pushed me towards baseball or the Yankees. It just happened.

    Now, I’m just as “bad” as the father for “Remy” – since I’ve really funneled my kids into the Yankees. So, I can see, easily, how some kids become fans of a certain team because of their family.

    But, I’ve heard many an interesting story from others on how they became fans of a certain team too.

    Recently, someone told me that he’s a Red Sox fan – even though he was born and raised in New Jersey. When I asked him how this happened, he explained that he has two brothers and the three of them who play Wiffle Ball in the backyard when they were very young. And, one brother was always the Yankees, the other brother was always the Mets, which left just the Phillies or Red Sox for him – and he took Boston and it stuck. Crazy, huh?

    Years ago, I once met a guy, briefly, outside Yankee Stadium who was from Boston who was a Yankees fan. I asked him “How does that happen?” And, he told me that his father was a huge Red Sox fan and he wanted to bust his old man’s balls as bad as possible – so, he started rooting for the Yankees and never stopped.

    And, about seven years ago, through the kids, I met another dad – around my age – who was another nutty Yankees fan. At a party for one of his kids, he introduced me to his brother who was all decked out in Mets stuff. So, referring to his brother’s attire, I asked him “You guys grew up in the same house. How does that happen?” And, he explained that his brother was a lot younger than him – and just got into baseball around 1986 when the Mets were great and Gooden and Strawberry got him hooked.

    I guess there are many roads which lead us into the teams we root for…sometimes it’s forced on us, sometimes it’s happenstance residual from “fill in the blank,” and sometimes it’s for reasons why we don’t know, for sure. How about you? What’s your story?

    Comments on Baseball Fans: Why Do We Root For Who We Do?

    1. Corey Italiano
      May 29th, 2010 | 11:08 am

      she looked at me and said “Don’t tell me you’re asking us to leave before a full nine innings are played!”
      Atta girl! I’ve never left before a full 9 innings are played, and I’ve been to some stinkers.

      As for me, I had absolutely no influences on baseball whatsoever growing up. Noone in my family watches baseball, nor do any of my friends in real life. I started watching both the Mets and the Yankees when I was young. I would switch on and off because I didn’t have cable back then, so when the Yankees were on MSG I’d watch the Mets on WWOR, and I’d also watch the Yankees on WPIX. I rooted for both teams back then, but really what got me hooked on the Yankees was the Scooter. I loved hearing him on the telecasts. Eventually I stopped watching the Mets as often (I’ll still watch a game to this day if the Yanks are off) and became a full fledged Yankee fan. I think you can credit Bernie Williams with that, as he is my all time favorite player.

    2. 77yankees
      May 29th, 2010 | 1:35 pm

      My family lived around the Stadium area for over 50 years. It’s the birthplace of my parents, my siblings and I. So it’s ingrained in us to be Yankee fans. I’ve been a Yankee fan since age 4, and never considered rooting for anyone else.

      It was always Yankee games on TV in our house growing up, and I suppose that’s been passed on to our family’s next generation who just grow curious over what we’re watching.

    3. SFYanks
      May 29th, 2010 | 2:29 pm

      My story-

      When I was a youngin my brother’s favorite player was Darryl Strawberry. So, being the younger brother that I was I completely copied my brother and Darryl soon became my fave. Except I took it to a new level by almost obsessing over anything I could get my hands on that was Darryl related.

      And of course, I became a huge Mets fan as a result. When he went to the Dodgers I became a Dodger’s fan. Ditto Giants. Keep in mind that I have lived in SF my whole life so him going to the Giants was a big deal at the time, but sure enough he ended up on the Yanks in ’95 and I’ve been a fan ever since.

      I love when people tell me that I’m not a true fan even though I can probably name the entire 40-man roster. People become fans for a variety of reasons and that’s how I got started. The blue and white runs so deep in me now that it’ll likely start a generation of Yankee fans in my fam.

      All because I wanted to copy big bro.

    4. satchel
      May 29th, 2010 | 6:16 pm

      I am a Yankees fan who has lived in Boston now for longer than I care to think about. I am not a confrontational person and I hate – and I do mean HATE – ribbing or being ribbed about fan allegiance.

      I simply don’t talk to people about baseball here, because I just don’t want to get into it. I don’t care how “good natured” it is – I don’t think it’s an appropriate subject for banter and I just don’t want to invite it.

      It’s like this. Why am I a Yankees fan? Because when I was growing up, my brothers and my father were Yankees fans, and rooting for the Yankees did what my family did.

      You could ask me why I am a Jew, and the answer is the same. Because when I was growing up, my brothers and my parents were Jews, and observing Jewish customs was what my family did.

      If you gave me “good natured ribbing” for being a Jew I’d knock your teeth in, and no one in the room would think I was wrong for doing so. So why’s it any better to give good-natured ribbing for being a Yankees fan? or, for that mattter, a Sox fan – you don’t pick on people for their religion, and baseball is like religion.

      I don’t have kids, but if I did, that’s the message I’d try to send – it’s not right to make fun of a kid who likes a different team, even if the other kids are doing it.

    5. satchel
      May 29th, 2010 | 6:17 pm

      erratum – “rooting for the Yankees did what my family did” –> “rooting for the Yankees was what my family did”

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