This is a question I’m sure many out of town fans have been asked at one time or another. It just doesn’t make sense for you to not like the team in your state (or my case province).
This is especially true from my life. Born in Ontario Canada, Toronto should be my natural choice of baseball team, shouldn’t it? I mean, my earliest memories in baseball are of the Toronto Blue Jays winning the World Series.
My answer is that Baseball is a game of tradition and there is no exception when dealing with the fan’s perspective. True, a lot of the time it is buried within the city or states tradition as well. But there are other roots. Think back to your earliest baseball memories. Do you remember both teams that were playing? Do you remember any of the players? How were you experiencing the game? Who were you experiencing the game with?
Many fans can probably answer all of these questions without a shadow of a doubt. I am not one of these fans. All the games blend together because I do remember a lot of them. Before I hazard what is probably a pretty accurate guess as to my very first baseball experience, I do remember details of my first world series. It was the 1992 World Series, everyone in the area was watching it, and there was a lot of hype! Growing up in Ontario Canada this was the first time a Canadian team had ever won the World Series. It was huge. Even casual fans were watching this epic event. I won’t lie; I was cheering the blue jays on too…but only because the Tigers were not playing.
The tigers were my team. The school year before the 1992 World Series I would have been in the first grade. I remember one French class where we played a game of word baseball. I don’t recall the rules of the game but I do remember the French teacher having the class choose a team. Naturally everyone wanted to be the blue jays, but I demanded the tigers. The solution was the game was to be played the whole class versus me.
Now to answer my questions on the earliest baseball memories…the tigers were obviously one of the teams involved and it was more than likely in my backyard listening to the legendary Ernie Harwell on the radio. I don’t remember the players who were playing in the first game, but I was well aware of the players who played daily during that era. I could have told you which player batted where and what position he usually played.
The final question was who was with you during this experience? I would hazard to guess the answer is the same on most accounts. Baseball is in the blood, so I don’t think it is a stretch to call the team that you root for hereditary. My first game was with my father. When he started listening to baseball with his father and grandfather, the Toronto Blue Jays were not around. Heredity is the reason I am a tigers fan.
The London Tigers definitely didn’t hurt the case either. In a city a little under an hour away was the Tigers farm team for 4 years. We used to go to several of those games. I remember seeing players like Travis Fryman and Rico Brogna play minor league games. I can still hear the theme song for those tigers playing over the loud speakers of Labatt Park:
London Tigers baseball, Tear’em up Tigers! Let’s go!
It was a sad day when the London Tigers moved out of town, but not too sad. It just meant we had to make the extra hour long trip to Detroit and watch games at the late Tigers stadium.
Now, why do you follow your team?