Baseball:Then and Now Are you really the wildest fan ever? By Nathan Wolf Smith
Do you think you are the wildest fan ever? Well, take a look at this. It’s 1908 at the Polo Grounds. You and 5,691 other Giants fans run on the field, jubilant. Hey, the Giants just clinched the National League pennant. Fast forward 61 years, to 1969 at Shea Stadium. When you look up toward the bleachers, you see hundreds of signs, cheering on the Mets. Now make a jump of only 6 years, to 1975, in The Great American Ballpark. When you look at the jumbotron, you see signs cheering on the Reds. Now back to the present. No crazy stuff. Just fans settling in their seat for a ballgame, and the occasional sign.
So now you see the four fan eras of baseball. Running, signs, jumbotron, and settled. So, now that you’ve “seen it all,” do you still think you’re the wildest fan ever? You still might think you are a wild fan. Do you run on the field after a big win? I don’t think so. Do you hold up signs? Probably not. Aha! So you are not the wildest fan in history. Yes, once upon a time, it was a tradition to run on the field after big wins. The tradition died with the 1920’s. And yes, people used to wave around
signs like lunatics. But that lasted until 2000. And that is sixty years, not twenty. So basically, we modern fans aren’t as wild as we think we are. So next time you jump and down at a ballgame, remember there have been wilder actions. Much wilder actions.
Run on the Field! • After big wins, it was customary for fans to run on the field. In fact, in 1912 Smokey Joe Wood’s secret weakness was was discovered: he needed to warm up before games. This was because some devout fans lost their regular seats. And losing your seat was the worst thing that could happen to you.
Rivalries • Rivalries were intense between fans, but were virtually not existent between players. Here Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner, possibly the two greatest rivals in baseball, shake hands.
The Dodgers • The Dodgers had some of the wildest fans ever, and they even had a band! That is the biggest show of devotion ever! Period.
The Mets • During the 60’s, the Mets were the most fun team in baseball, and usually, you could only see signs of encouragement for the Mets. Not the fans. But you could certainly hear them!
The Jumbotron • During the 1970’s, when you looked at the jumbotron, you would see encouragement to the home team.
The Present Compared with the craziness of the past, fans of today are very laid-back.
…but there are fun accessories, too!