I have a confession: I’m an ex-bleacher creature. When Pac Bell/AT&T Park opened, I got season tickets with my father in the lower boxes, close to home plate. For 12+ years, I’ve been there, trying to be loud, fun, and keeping things energized. And the truth is, the people around our seats are just as hardcore. We’re loud, we’ll heckle, we’ll start chants and cheers… Down in our lower box section, there’s not a lot of casual fans among the regulars.
But I’ve always had a healthy respect for the bleachers. Back at Candlestick, we took pride once those metal seats got put in to be loud and mean.
One game, against the New York Mets, we were picking on the left fielder, Todd Hundley. We’d been chanting at him for innings, and in the fifth or sixth, he finally responded. He turned around, waved his fingers together to indicate he was getting paid, and then slapped his ass. Of course, that only launched the loudest set of boos yet. The next batter hit a line drive at him, and he misplayed it. For the next inning, we never stopped with the “Overrated” chant, and he was taken out after that inning.
Hundley never played the outfield again in his career.
So that’s what made last week’s sojourn to the bleachers so disturbing. It was a weeknight game, and all the hardcore fans I expected to sit with weren’t there. They were more interested in fashion than the game. It was every bad stereotype of San Francisco fans, just swap the wine with beer.
So, for the next couple of weeks, we’ll get into Casual Fan Retraining. Just some tips of how to act, and what to do, to be a good fan. Not a hardcore lunatic, but at least someone who can enjoy the game the way it’s meant to be.