I’ve been kind of batting this around in my melon for several months, if not years, now. Why do women baseball fans seem so good? And I mean starting from when you’re a kid to being a grumpy old man. I’ve always felt this way. And Im not sure I was going to be able to find a jumping off point, so I’ll just start scribbling.
I’m not trying to make a logical argument either for or against. Just a few statements and observations. I think a lot of it has to do with my mom and then later my daughter and then even after that a number of women using social media. Of course my mom first. Its not that she came to my games as a kid (too many siblings at home) but as she got older she got to palling around with Horace Stonehams wife out at Cypress Golf Course in Colma. So she spent a lot of time down in the front rows at Candlestick back in the late 60s and early 70s.
What I remember more than anything, was that she never had anything bad to say about any of the players, even the Dodgers. And her friends were the same way. My old man was a different story.
Years later, when I was coaching, the moms, girlfriends, wives, sisters were always supportive. They never wanted anybody to get hurt, or embarrassed. They were and are always knowledgeable, and never afraid to ask questions. And keep at it until they got a legitimate answer. But mainly they were interested in the player as a human being. As a player, as a character guy. And I can understand this now that I’m older. Baseball really is a game based upon close personal relationships. Its not a macho sport. Despite some of the occasional posing after strike-outs and homeruns. Its a game where quiet dignity is celebrated, even worshiped. Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Buck O’Neil, Willie McCovey and so many more. So there’s that unspoken aura of chivalry to a certain extent, whether it is real or not. I want to believe it still exists.
That there is that bridge to the old ways, and if you’ve ever been to a Giants game at PacBell, and see how the women fans are, you’ll believe it too. As a matter of fact, being tradition and superstition bound old guy on social security, I am pretty sure without the thousands and thousands of women fans, the Giants don’t win that world series. On paper, they had no business getting beyond the first round. And in the end they breezed. So thats my story on the 2010 World Series Championship, and I’m sticking to it.
About 20 years ago I was going to help out a guy I used to play with. My gig was over at another high-school and the new place was the same high school my daughter attended up in the wine country. It wasn’t a very strong program, and we were not going to win a lot of games, but it was an opportunity to reach a few kids and teach some skills along the way. Just before tryouts, my buddy has to return to LA when his father got ill, so the entire team, not just the pitching staff, falls in my lap by default. I know none of the players and vice versa.
My daughter Kris, had grown up around the game because of her older brother and could keep a pro-style score book by the time she was 11. (She graduated in Econ eventually) The school district allowed for a student trainer scorekeeper, so she got to bail out of school early during the season and make those roadtrips out to Fort Bragg, Sonoma, Petaluma and so forth with her old man.
Talking about a dad living the dream though I did not appreciate it as much as I should have. Funny part is, Kris was only 15 and all the boys of course were seniors and juniors so there were some tense situations initially, just like there is whenever a woman enters the so-called bastion of the male. Never had to worry. She was respected, and respectful back. She always cheered, even for the kids she didn’t like without sounding like a tape-recording from a White Sox broadcast. And thats pretty hard to do when you’re 4-20 for the season.
She had fun, I lost hair. See what I mean?
And later, when I moved out of the way, to give others a chance, and went back to being a fan and follower of the Giants and the best college baseball program that I know of, it was the women fans who always struck me. The girlfriends, moms, aunts, a few wives and maybe a handful of women from the softball team. But what really struck me were women Giants fans. Let me back up a minute. For those of you who have had the misfortune to listen/read my diatribes, I have constantly sabotaged a lot potential friendships with other fans, because (drum roll) they didn’t enjoy the game like I did. Thats right. Amazing. Its taken me 10 years to realize that in America, and around the world, fans are free to enjoy a game of baseball any way they want, and they don’t need my permission to do so. Oh holy shit, I’ve been saved – I think.
But talking with Anna (and several other really nice and gifted bloggers and tweeters), who I do not know except via twitter and reading her comments and questions over the last few seasons, I am so taken by her approach to being a Giants fan. She literally loves these guys unconditionally, like so many women Giants fans. Without being a silly groupie-Clubhouse Annie. And then I think about all the lessons you try to teach to guys coming up in the game that are not skills related, but life-related, and then it all makes sense. The Anna’s of the world get it. They get it as much as any player.
Because you see, to women like Anna, they intrinsically understand the heart of a player, like they understand the heart of a relationship. They are capable of somehow becoming that 10th man out there on the field and for some teams, without that 10th man, they never get to the top of the mountain.
Even today Bruce Bochy in front of the sell-out crowd after the game said as much when talking about how important fan support was. He just forgot to add “…especially the women”.