Why Did You Become A Fan of…

The question has been asked on multiple blogs, but it is always very relevant and quite interesting…

Why did you become a fan of your favorite baseball team?

Often, it’s simply geography or a family’s passion that is passed from generation to generation.  But other times, there are deeper, individual reasons for why we follow certain teams. 

I have always been quick to say that I became a Yankees fan on December 31, 1974.  That’s the day Oakland A’s free-agent pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter signed a 5-year, $3.75 million contract with the Yankees.

 

Walter Iooss Jr/SI

The early 70’s were a great time to be an A’s fan, and I was on the bandwagon like all my friends.  But I was starting to get older and had gained a better awareness and understanding of baseball.  After some careful thought, I decided to follow Hunter to New York in terms of my loyalty and support.  I was immediately captivated by the personalities on the Yankees roster, and Billy Martin was quickly my all-time favorite manager.  Thurman Munson became my idol, and I can still remember the magic and excitement when Chris Chambliss hit the game winning home run in the 1976 ALCS against the Kansas City Royals (I remember watching his foot placement in the batter’s box and feeling that something huge was about to happen).

 

New York Daily News

I remember my mom was getting tired of me telling her that Reggie Jackson had hit another home run in the 1977 World Series, and sadly, I remember exactly where I was on August 2, 1979.

 

Yet, when I think about why I was attracted to the Yankees, it really happened much earlier.  When I was about 7 or 8, I read a book about Lou Gehrig. 

At the time, I was just starting to become aware of Major League baseball.  I was drawn to the history and aura of the game.  I “discovered” pro football first, but baseball quickly passed football as my true love.  Today, Lou Gehrig is my personal all-time hero, and hence, the source of the name for my blog.

“I’m not a headline guy.  I know that as long as I was following Babe Ruth to the plate I could have stood on my head and no one would have known the difference.”

–Lou Gehrig

There are multiple meanings in this quote for me personally.  Not only does it pay homage to the great class and character of Lou Gehrig, but it also recognizes that I am among greatness at MLBlogs with so many outstanding writers.

I have always been drawn to the history of the Yankees, so I think the book about Gehrig set the stage for my conversion from an A’s fan to a Yankees fan a few years later. 

A very moving article to read is the “This Morning with Shirley Povich” column that appeared in the Washington Post on July 5, 1939.  The Washington Senators played a double-header against the Yankees on July 4th, and Gehrig gave his immortal farewell speech between games.

Yankees manager Joe McCarthy made the following statement at the mike that day while openly crying:  “Lou, what else can I say except that it was a sad day in the life of everybody who knew you when you came to my hotel room that day in Detroit and told me you were quitting as a ball player because you felt yourself a hindrance to the team. My God, man, you were never that.”

I think that quote alone can sum up why I feel that Lou Gehrig was such a special person…

The Senators won the first game, 3-2, but the Yankees came back to win the second game, 11-1, after Gehrig’s farewell.

This is an excellent tribute to Lou… 

 

Who would have known it would set me on a collision course against Julia of Julia’s Rants? ;) 

14 Comments

I love this post, Scott. And I can well understand how Gehrig became your hero. I can’t watch a single minute of “Pride of the Yankees” without sobbing. But it isn’t just because he died so young and so senselessly. It’s because he lived his life so graciously and humbly. He was one of the greats, all right. But Billy Martin? LOL. He was the exact opposite of Gehrig in temperament and behavior, but both shared a fierce desire to win.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

That is truly touching. I will probably do one like that.
http://thewrightway.mlblogs.com/

Great, great entry! Well, I became a Padres fan because that’s the first team I knew when I moved to United States. I went to my first second game and I just fell in love with that team. They are not the best team in the Major League but who cares? I love my team and that’s the true meaning of me being the Padres’ fan :)
http://hyunyoung.mlblogs.com

But think of all the fun you’d be missing if you hadn’t become a Yankees fan! ;-) Me – I have lived in the Boston area my entire life, my mom & dad were Red Sox fans and there really wasn’t any question of what team I would be cheering for growing up. I have a strong love and support for all teams Boston! I can’t imagine ever rooting for any other teams as my “home teams” regardless of where I live. The Red Sox, Bruins, Celtic and Patriots are a part of me. I have SO many memories – the Bobby Orr flying through air goal; the ’75 World Series; the Pats squishing the Fish (but being unable to “Berry the Bears”) and Larry Bird! Not all the memories are good, but they are part of what is me. And Scott – your blog today was excellent! Thanks for sharing how you chose the title of your blog. And I am glad that you became that Yankees fan! ;-)

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Scott,That was such a lovely tribute to Lou Gherig, I can see why he’s such a hero of yours. I can also see why that would make you into such a huge Yankee fan. I have been a Twins fan my entire life, having been born and raised in the Minny. Of course, it helps that my earliest memories of the team are such good ones, too. I was five when they won their first World Series title in 1987, and nine when they won it all again in 1991. Those were good times. Good enough to make me love them anyway, even if they make it so difficult sometimes. That doesn’t explain why in the name of Sam Hill you are a Vikings fan, though. Maybe that should be your next entry :-)-Erinhttp://plunking-gomez.mlblogs.com

There is a lot of classy players who came out of the era of baseball. And for whatever reason, most seemed to be Yankees. They set the pace for everyone else. They continue to inspire players (adults and kids) to this day. How many times do we quote them? I know I do. Lou Gehrig played though pain that most people cannot imagine. He loved the game and his team. It’s hard not to love a player like him. Good choice, Scott. Very good choice.
Canuck
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

There is a lot of classy players who came out of the era of baseball. And for whatever reason, most seemed to be Yankees. They set the pace for everyone else. They continue to inspire players (adults and kids) to this day. How many times do we quote them? I know I do. Lou Gehrig played though pain that most people cannot imagine. He loved the game and his team. It’s hard not to love a player like him. Good choice, Scott. Very good choice.
Canuck
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

JANE – I loved Billy Martin. I know that he was fiery and combative, and he did many things that he shouldn’t have. But as a manager, you always knew that Casey Stengel was watching his little fireplug, and the desire to win was unquestioned. Joe Torre came to close, but Martin remains my favorite all-time Yankees manager.

GOMETS – Thanks for the kind words. It figures to be a great year in Queens. Good luck!

HYUNYOUNG – I have been to Petco Park a few times. It is a beautiful stadium, and the team has great talent. It is a terrific team to follow, and I admire your passion for the Padres.

JULIA – I have always admired the devotion and loyalty of Red Sox fans. In the years of the Curse, the fans remained true. Of course, I didn’t listen to Boston radio to how upset the fans may have been from time to time, but the fans have always been very faithful. It is a great time in Boston sports considering the success of all four majors…

ERIN – I grew up in Iowa so I can blame the Vikings on geography. I remember being a Houston Oilers fan first because I liked the QB at the time (Dan Pastorini), but the Vikings were on TV every Sunday and I quickly became attached to the team. It was sealed when the Vikings re-acquired Fran Tarkenton from the NY Giants. Fran became my favorite player, and I’ve been a Vikings fan ever since. Hopefully one day, I will realize a Super Bowl championship with the team. Maybe that’s why I feel so strongly that they need to do whatever it takes to bring in a top flight QB to lead the team to the promised land…

CANUCK – When you see the selfishness of certain players today, it definitely helps to appreciate the selflessness of players like Lou Gehrig and how humble he was. I thought Don Mattingly had many of the same attributes, and I look forward to the day that Donnie Baseball is managing in the major leagues. Of the current players, aside from Jeter, Mariano Rivera is the class of legends. I look forward to the day they retire #42 for both him and Jackie Robinson together…

Thanks everyone for your comments!

Scott

Maybe some are fans due to simple geography, but most of us have that one player that speaks to something deep inside us. He is the player we want to be. The player we know we could be if you could transplant our heart and soul into the proper body. Often, he’s not the “man” like the Babe or Musial or Pujols. He’s just a player that comes through in the cluth, like Gehrig. Or, in my case, Yadier Molina.
Great tribute!
-Kathy
http://redbirdchatter.mlblogs.com

Scott – if your Sharks and my Bruins meet in the Stanley Cup, we might need to have a little hockey wager! ;-)

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

I became a Pirates fan when my dad took me to my first game when I was about 4. My dad was never a big sports fan, so it wasn’t like he was sitting there telling me about the game and the rules and stuff like the stereotypical dad kid baseball game story. It was a great day though. I remember after the game we went home and played catch, one of my fondest memories as a kid. Wouldn’t you know it, the Pirates lost that game. I think I watched every game on TV for the rest of that season, and a Pirate fan for life was born. Thanks, dad.

EAT, SLEEP, MLB

Wow Scott,
Great post! It always make me tear up a bit when I see Gehrig’s speech. Something like “Today, I feel like the luckiest man alive”. So touching.
So how did I become a fan of the Sox?
Dad’s family is from New England. I heard Yastrzemski, Williams, ‘The Green Monster’ stories when I was growing up. Became a baseball fan in ’03 when I was ten. Simple but there you go.
It’s so cool you know the exact date.
-Elizabeth
http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

Hi, Scott …

Excellent post !!!
.
You brought back many wonderful memories of the great New York Yankee teams of 1976, ’77, ’78, mentioning players such as Catfish Hunter, Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Reggie Jackson, and, manager Billy Martin !!! … Those were great times for all us Yankee fans, and for me, was the first winning Yankee era I experienced as a “life-long, die-hard” Yankees fan !!! … We can all thank Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner, for bringing back the winning tradition of the New York Yankees, and it started with Thurman Munson as our “captain”; hiring Gabe Paul as the GM; the signing of Catfish Hunter; and , hiring Billy Martin as manager … and, then, the many trades, and signing of Reggie Jackson, etc., finally brought the Yanks to the World Series in 1976, with the classic Chris Chambliss HR in the AL Championsip game; followed by World Sereies victories in 1977 and 1978 !!!
.
My first years as a Yankees fan, though, started during the “Horace Clarke” days in 1967-’68, when Mickey Mantle was at the end of his career, and the Yankee teams were not very good at all !!! … But, the main reason I became a Yankees fan during that time was listening to Phil Rizzuto announcing the games on T.V. and radio, and talking about the great Yankee teams, players, tradition, and history of the New York Yankees — that great Yankees tradition from: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, etc., leading into the 1970’s with Bobby Murcer, Roy White, Thurman Munson, etc. !!! … From the broadcast booth, “The Scooter”, Phil Rizzuto, continued that connection to the past greatness of the Yankees; and, when Bobby Murcer [my all-time favorite Yankee player], joined Rizzuto in the broadcast booth, that connection to the Yankees tradition continued !!!
.
Also, when I first started following the Yankees, the Lou Gehrig movie, “Pride of the Yankees”, was also a major factor for me becoming a Yankees fan !!! … The movie is a very touching and inspiring portrayal of the great Lou Gehrig, and always, even to this day, makes me proud to be a Yankees fan !!! … Scott, your tribute to Lou Gehrig was “awesome”, especially, the film clips of Gehrig on the video, and the “I’m Not A Headline Guy” quote by Lou Gehrig !!! … Very nice, and extremely well done !!!
.
Take care, Scott; and, have a great day !!!
.
— Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”
http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

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