A Fan is a Terrible Thing to Waste

A view from the cheap seats of baseball past, present, and future.


Exploding Pig Trick

Brad: I know some of you are Saints boosters. What's the story?

Shawn: I go to Saints games, but I don't go for the baseball.

Dark Star: It's got nothing to do with baseball, and everything to do with being outside and watching somebody get their hair cut and drinking beer.

Julian: Wait a minute, it's baseball...

Shawn: It's baseball-ish.

Julian: I know the real ballplayers are across town under the roof, but it's fun, and you can appreciate the baseball on some levels. It's minor-league baseball.

Dark Star: Mike [Veeck] has tried to take everything his father ever did and put it into one game. Some night the pig's gonna blow up.

John: You're right. It just keeps coming at you. The question is, how long can that be recycled? Three years? Five years?

Dark Star: Hey, Hello, Dolly! played for 19 years on Broadway.

David: I don't know how anyone could go every day. The year Carew hit .388 I could go out to the Met every day. I mean, that's like a work of art. Like going to see the Mona Lisa every day, or watching Casablanca. I could do that. I can't go to the Saints every day. But when I do go, it's a helluva lot of fun.

Bill: I don't have any idea what their record is in the games I've been to.

Julian: But these guys, the players in that league, are characters, real people you can relate to and maybe get close to. You know, you might have a beer with one of these guys in the parking lot after the game. One guy's a schoolteacher, another guy's maybe a carpenter. You can think, Maybe if my eyes hadn't gone bad I could have played in this league. It's a little bit more like I think old-time baseball used to be.


The End of the World as We Knew It

Julian: My mother's interest in the game came from my father, which I never realized until I was 35. My father died when I was only 4 months old. The thing that I found out at 35 was that one of the things they'd had was baseball, and my mom passed baseball on to me. What I had never realized was that she was passing on my father to me. It wasn't until I dug through his pictures and found a little Italian guy playing on the Westinghouse team that that dawned on me. The other side of it is the personal relationships that develop around the game, fathers and sons, those kinds of connections.

Shawn: I really do think it's all about our dads.

Bill: But that's not gonna get lost. People are saying basketball's coming up and hockey's coming up and baseball's going down. That's not true, because baseball is still the best and the most inexpensive place for parents to take kids.

Julian: How many guys got kids, though? I raised my kid on baseball. He's 16 years old, and I sometimes think that we may be the last true generation that has a real love for this game, because I think the corporatization of the game is changing everything. I took my kids over to [a card shop] and they were picking up baseball cards and I had to force them to read the back of the goddamn cards. They knew the value of every card in their hand, but they didn't know that so-and-so had played for the Red Sox.

Dark Star: Well, the baseball card thing is just out of hand. We used to look at the picture and at the back: Ed Bailey was from Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. That was fun. Now they don't open the sets because it decreases the value of the cards. And it doesn't serve anybody.

Brad: Do fathers still play catch with their kids?

Julian: My kid doesn't want to do it, but every now and then I say, "Cmon, we'll go out and throw the ball around." But the loyalty isn't there anymore. I really do think that the changes in the game and the corporatization, even the free agency stuff, has changed the bond that we had with the game. It's not there with the kids anymore. I worry about whether we are really the last generation of baseball fans. It's harder to relate to somebody who makes even a million bucks a year. It's hard for me to relate to the ownership, to the Metrodome. Those kind of distances are being built up.

Shawn: I hear what you're saying. I also think so much is happening so fast right now that the speed of basketball seems to be more interesting to girls and boys than the pace of baseball. But I also think if you teach a kid to read, ultimately they'll come back to baseball at around 25 or 30.

David: There are no books, no poetry about basketball. You can count the number of good basketball books on one hand, and there are shelves full of baseball books.

Bill: There just aren't the characters in the game today like there used to be. I was reminded of that with all the stories that came out when Earl Weaver got elected to the Hall of Fame. There's where Pat Kelly tells Earl that he wishes he would walk with the Lord, and Earl says, "Yeah, well, I wish you'd walk with the bases loaded."

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