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Becoming a Baseball Fan As a Kid
I have been a Milwaukee baseball fan since 1953. During this time I have religiously followed the professional baseball teams from where I grew up. Even when I moved to different states and went abroad, I still followed first the Milwaukee Braves and then the Milwaukee Brewers. In all sincerity I am a true baseball fan, and baseball has been a big part of my life.
As a kid, I didn't start getting interested in pro baseball until I was 9. In that year, 1953, the Boston Braves had just moved to Milwaukee, and I immediately became a Milwaukee Brewers fan. I collected the baseball cards of all team members. The cards of Eddie Matthews and Warren Spahn were very popular to have, and I would never consider trading them. Although my dad only had time to take me to a few games, I would often listen to games on the radio and occasionally watch the Braves on WGN TV when they played the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. I knew all of the players on the team as well as their personal stats.
When I was 10 or 11, my aunt gave me for Christmas a baseball autographed by all of the Braves' players. I can still see it now with the signatures of Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock, Johnny Logan, and others. Like a young fool, I never kept it unmarked. I played with it and batted it around. It probably would be worth a lot today. A few years later, another aunt gave me an autographed picture of Lew Burdette, a pitcher, who won three games in the 1957 World Series. She knew Lew, because he was her neighbor.
Following Baseball as a Young Man
After I went to high school and away to college, I didn't follow the Braves as much as I did when I was a younger kid. I didn't have the time; however, I would still read the daily box scores and sometimes catch a game at old Milwaukee County Stadium. In 1965 I remember seeing my last Braves game before the team moved to Atlanta the following year. Tickets were easy to get that year, and I remember buying mezzanine seats on the day of the game and sitting next to the press boxes. The Los Angeles Dodgers were playing that day and Don Drysdale was pitching. I'll never forget the anger on Drysdale's face after Hank Aaron tagged him for a homer. I remember him taking the resin bag and throwing it halfway across the diamond.
I stopped following the Braves after they moved to Atlanta. The Braves were traitors to their fans, and I would never forgive them. In 1970, however, the Seattle Pilots moved to Milwaukee, and the city had a new baseball team which it called the Milwaukee Brewers. I was overseas in the Navy at the time, but I still started to follow my new Milwaukee team by reading the box scores of the games in the Armed Forces newspapers.
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Characteristics of Major League Baseball Fans
Since 1970, I have been a loyal Milwaukee Brewers fan. Over this period of time, I have followed the team while living outside of Wisconsin and the country. Although the Brewers have made the playoffs only three times and been to one World Series in 1982, I have still followed the team every year through many losing seasons. I have exhibited the true characteristics of a baseball fan which I will detail as follows:
1. Unwavering Loyalty to Your Team:
I remember a lot of people jumping on the band wagon and becoming Chicago Bulls basketball fans in the 1990s when the Bulls had Michael Jordan and won so many championships. After Jordan retired. a lot of these "fans" deserted the Bulls and went to greener pastures. A real sports fan, no matter whether the sport is baseball, basketball, or football, will stick with his team through thick and thin. It's like being married to someone for better or worse.
2. Follows Their Team Constantly Throughout the Sports Season:
A true sports fan shows interest in their team by attending games in person, listening to games on the radio, and watching televised broadcasts. If he or she can't do this, he or she will read box scores and accounts of all games in the newspapers or on the internet. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I want to know is how my Brewers did in their last game.
3. Talk About Your Team with Friends or Co-workers:
I work with many British colleagues at my school in Thailand. Every time I see them, they are chatting about their favorite soccer team in Europe. They are not only talking about the latest scores of their teams, but also discussing the most recent news of players and managers. When I talk with my brother and brother-in-law, I always ask them about the Brewers.
4. Write about Your Favorite Team:
Every day I will go to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website and first read all of the articles written about the latest Brewers news. I will then go to the blogs of comments following the articles written by all of the fans. I will very often leave comments on the blogs. A real sports fan would also write letters to the sports editors of newspapers, and write articles for websites on the Internet such as Yahoo and Hubpages.
5. Wear Your Team's Cap and Jersey Proudly:
Whenever I went to a baseball game both at home or away, I would always wear my Brewers baseball cap. This almost got me into trouble when I went to a Brewers game in Baltimore in 1983 and sat in the right field bleachers. The Orioles fans got so mad at me when they saw me rooting for the Brewers.
6. Following News of Your Team During the Off-Season:
A true baseball fan doesn't stop following his team when the playing season ends. He will try to get all of the news he can during the off-season regarding player moves and signings. I have always wanted to know which players might be traded or released from the team.
7. Go to Fantasy Camps Hosted by Your Team:
Every year the Brewers as well as other pro teams hold week-long fantasy camps in Florida or Arizona during January or February. The purpose of these camps is to allow older fans with interest in playing baseball to talk and play baseball with retired former stars. This is something I have always wanted to do.
Being a real major league baseball fan has both its ups and downs. I have felt on the top of the world when my team has a 10-day winning streak, and then feel like crying when I suffer with them through a long losing streak. As long as there are real fans, baseball will continue to be America's national past time.
© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn