A Love Beyond Baseball
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Halfway into flight 288 on Oct. 28 servicing Denver to St. Louis, the flight attendant got on the loud speaker and informed the passengers of some “bad” news. The flight’s atmosphere grew from restful to agitated, and for a few seconds there was sheer panic of what this bad news had in store for us.
“The scores are in,” the flight attendant said, dissolving out panic, “And it pains me to say that Cleveland won.”
The World Series began with a win for the Cleveland Indians and a loss for the Chicago Cubs, and the reaction was strange.
Not being a baseball fan myself, I was intrigued to know what makes baseball fans become so invested in their teams, so I made it my mission to find out. I was able to talk to two fans and hear their stories behind their love of a team.
Chicago native Lynne Case, and long time Cubs fan, says that her love of the team began with family tradition—the love of the Cubs was an intangible family heirloom that she can recall dated all the way back to her grandfather. Her grandfather passed away when she was young, but she believes that her common love is a way for her to connect with him. Case grew up in a Chicago suburb and now resides in Wisconsin. Even though she moved away from the Cub’s hometown, she continues to be proud to say that she is Cubs fan.
“Watching the games as a little girl on the television network WGN [an independent Chicago network], Harry Caray always rattled off players from either side and would scream ‘holy cow’ after important plays. After that, I did not miss a game on WGN if I could help it,” Case said. “There was nothing more special than looking forward to when Caray would sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ at the Seventh-Inning Stretch.”
After moving to Wisconsin, she was saddened to learn that her move left behind the nostalgic WGN screening of the ballgame. Despite the loss of one of the traditions that she tied to the Cubs, she remained just as big a fan as ever.
Case describes that going to Wrigley Field and seeing the Cubs play is priceless. She believes that anyone who goes to Wrigley Field will not necessarily appreciate the ballgame itself, but they will transform into a forever Cubs fan after this immersion into the atmosphere of a community beyond baseball.
“It’s 2016, and I am proud to be a Cubs fan because they are not only making history, but they are showing the world team spirit and unity,” Case said. “The players and staff are not thinking about themselves as individuals, rather as a team which is what makes them so special.”
The fans see this unbelievable sense of team spirit and Cub staff and players do too. An example is infielder Ryne Sandberg’s story. After retiring from playing for the Cubs, Sandberg, who was not fortunate enough to see a ring in his career for the Cubs, said that it was okay because the fans made it a place where the players never wanted to leave.
Similar to the immense pride of a Cubs fan, an Indians fan is happy to be part of the longtime tradition of the community created amongst Indian fans.
Indians fan Lori Randorf says that her support for the Indians developed as a result of growing up in a family and community where everyone was happy to be able to support their local team.
Randorf describes that despite the historical trend of a lack of success of the Indians, she will and has always remained a fan.
Randorf has been in Cleveland all of her life and can not recall a time when she saw a Clevelander not taking on the role of an eager and proud Indians fan.
“As a Clevelander, I just stick with the teams,” Randorf said. “It is more about pride for the city than it is about sports.”
Randorf described that this pride is a way for Cleveland residents to show the world the faces that make up Cleveland and an image of the city. The Indians have had a rough season because of injured key players, but they still managed to take themselves to the World Series. Fans could not be more proud that their team is providing Cleveland with necessary exposure; Randorf believes that the Indians success highlights the many great things about Cleveland that often get overlooked. Similar to the success of another Cleveland sports team, the Cavaliers, the success brings positive attention to the city in a way that helps to dispel the myth that Cleveland is the “mistake on the lake.”
“[Being an Indians fan] is just part of being a Clevelander,” Randorf said. “Those little blips of success –like the runs to the World Series in the 90’s – give us a glimmer of hope that our team can win! I guess that this might be why I have heard Cleveland called ‘Believeland’: we believe even if it seems impossible.”
After talking to the two fans, I have discovered that being a fan of any team is continuity in community tradition and a way to exhibit a sense of pride for your home.