Attending a baseball game is an inherently social activity, as the interaction between fan and game is generally nicely enhanced with some good quality fan-to-fan interaction. Not that a game can’t be a great experience on your own, but that I, for one, tend to hope for opportunities to get to know other fans around me. Given that 4 of my first 6 games have been alone, I’ve definitely been looking out for some good-quality conversation. And whether it’s been just a couple of exchanges, engaging in an in-depth conversation, or making a new friendship that carries on after leaving the park, I’ve fortunately been doing pretty well so far.
The roadtrip itself is a great icebreaker, as it turns out. While selling people on the concept in the UK produced a mixed, if generally positive impression, raising the concept to other fans at a baseball game has brought uniform enthusiasm, and a hearty collection of “I’ve always wanted to do that” responses. To call out a few examples in particular:
I met a very cool person at the Yankee game, despite her insistence on cheering for the Yankees as a day-to-day activity rather than just as a ballpark-touring temporary allegiance. We discovered soon into our conversation that we shared a fair bit in the way of common background and career direction, and that our common deep interest in sports made for a great backdrop for ongoing conversation. This really helped enhance the Yankee Stadium experience. And, credit where credit’s due, my schedule re-jigging to hit up Cleveland earlier in the trip was inspired by this dedicated Yankee fan. Hats off.
The Phillies game worked out well from several fronts. On my right were the three people who’d received 4 tickets to the game (free), sold one of them to a pair of Mets fans outside the stadium (at face value), who then sold it to me (for a premium). From a financial point of view, I suppose I had the short straw, but I still realized economic profit vis-à-vis my willingness to pay, so all was good. My being the 4th seat of the group almost made for a natural introduction and for easygoing conversation throughout the game. I also had a very good time talking to the couple on my other side, who were splitting innings with their daughter and her boyfriend between these seats and standing-room only. The daughter’s softball scholarship to university was an obvious indication of a thorough knowledge of the sport, and all 4 were great to spend time with.
My experience at the Orioles games was a bit more limited in interaction. Though to be fair, even just a brief description of my tour to a man visiting the game with his two teenage kids in the row behind me was enough to get him to offer me a beer at last call – “out of respect for the worthiness of my trip”. Good stuff.
We’ll see how things continue moving on, though with the reputation for hospitality and friendliness prevalent in the South and in the Mid-west, I’m guessing there’ll be plenty of good quality conversations ahead.