After being entrenched in minor league baseball for five months now, I have learned quite a few things. It is a beautiful game with towering peaks of success and deep valleys of defeat. One thing that holds true despite the result is the presence of diehard fans.
Sure, plenty of fans just come to the game for the mid-inning promotions and ballpark food (and drinks, of course). But there are some, especially at certain ballparks in our league, that are very committed. We have several fans that come to every Silver Hawks game, rain or shine, and it is fun to get talk to them and field questions about the team and my perspective on the game.
Last night, though, I had an interesting encounter with a fan in Dayton, OH.
Let’s start with this: there is no doubt that I am a passionate person. In general, I like to keep my cheering pretty reserved, especially when we’re on the road or it is a tight game. But, when Daniel is pitching — all bets are off. I cheer for my husband pitch after pitch because as his wife, I consider myself one of his biggest supporters.
So, last night, D started against the Dragons, a team that had given him two out of his three losses this year. On top of that, he started against the Reds #1 prospect who, consequently, is on his way to AA. Needless to say, tensions were high.
I was really nervous before the game. Like hand-shaking, nauseated-feeling nervous. I consulted the Bible and refocused myself. I reminded myself God is in control and has every result already written, which calmed me down.
Anyways, as the game rolled on and Daniel put together one of his best starts of the year, I was cheering. Away team fans are never anyone’s favorite, but I wasn’t being negative towards the other team or obnoxious in any way. I started to notice a group of people about three rows down, particularly one woman, who kept shooting me bad looks after I would cheer. As the stands thinned out and there was no one in between us, I could hear her comments. She repeatedly told the people with her how annoying I was and laughed every time I clapped or said anything at all.
Finally, she lost all sense of reserve and turned around and stared me down. I am generally opposed to conflict, so I told the other girls with me I wanted to stop cheering to diffuse the situation. They encouraged me to continue cheering because I wasn’t doing anything wrong and it was my job to support my husband.
Then, she made a comment to the man next to her that she just couldn’t do it anymore, gathered her things and stood up to move. As she walked down the aisle, she stared me down the entire way.
I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I said “it’s my husband pitching, I’m going to cheer.” As she mumbled something back, which I didn’t hear due to the blood pumping extremely fast in my chest, the other girls stepped up and had my back, insisting to the woman that she shouldn’t have come to a baseball game if she didn’t want to hear cheering. And that was that.
I couldn’t stop thinking about this woman the rest of the night. Was her son pitching for the Dragons or was she just a diehard fan? Is she just one of those people that is always negative? I will never know the answer, but I did decide to write a “letter to minor league baseball fans” because something needs to be said.
Before I get heat about this, I know as we continue on this journey and, God-willing, move up the ladder, Daniel will have plenty of haters in the stands and on the internet. I am working on my tough skin, but that doesn’t change the reality of the stakes of this lifestyle.
When we decided to take a leap of faith and leave everything to have me travel with him, we knew there would be more riding on every game. Our livelihood essentially lies in balls and strikes.
With such stakes, pressure and stress, who wouldn’t be emotionally invested in the games? What this woman didn’t and may never realize is that while she can go home and get ready for work in the morning, my husband’s “work” is her night out at the ballpark. As much as fans think that a fun Friday night baseball game is about them, it really isn’t. Every player has a career on the line every game and your rude comment or rash judgement of a player’s ability makes you seem heartless and ignorant.
Not to mention, when you shoot a look at one of those wives, fiancees or girlfriends because you don’t like her cheering, just remember that you have no idea what the stakes are for that person. That guy having a bad night that you are booing may not have a job or health insurance in the morning. Think before you speak.
Ok, I don’t want to rant on forever. I can promise that I will never apologize for cheering for my husband again. As we continue on this journey, I will be nothing but “all in,” which means that I will cheer every start, whether he posts a shutout or gives up run after run.