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  • Women of the Diamond: The Fans


    Sherry Cerny

    Having something special to share with your closest friends and family is part of what makes traditions so unique. As women, typically brunch, manicures, shopping, and trips to Mexico are all a part of what "women do" to spend time together, but there is something more special and unique than just your' average female' - that's the female baseball fan.

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    My love for baseball is what got me into writing about it. The more I watched, the more I learned. I have been a fan of the Twins since as far back as I can recall, but I didn’t start truly watching until right before the strike in 1994. As I grew in my love for the sport, the more I loved the interaction with fans. That was easy when I was home in Minnesota, but after a life-altering move to the east coast, I had to find new ways to communicate with fans. I found twitter in 2012 and other fans. It made me feel like I was home. 

    The more I watched the games, the more I had to say on Twitter, but 120 characters didn't seem to be enough for me. I knew how hard it could be for women in journalism, but I knew I wanted to say more. Lately, there has been a lot of emphasis on women in sports, and when I reached out with my desire to be a writer, Twins Daily immediately took me under their wing to get me started. As I continued to grow in followers, content, and fans, I noticed that more women worked in baseball and as fans. 

    Baseball is the second most popular sport in the United States behind Football and seventh in the world. Baseball also has one of the most gender-even fan bases. Men make up 55% of the fan base, and Women make up 45% of the fan base. This past week, even in a state that competes with other major professional leagues, the Minnesota Twins home opener drew in more than 35,000 fans after a 99-day lockout and a shortened spring training. Almost half of those were women.  

    I was there with my mom and waiting to meet up with a group of women I met on Twitter and attending the game. Female baseball fans are a particular type of woman: passionate, competitive, complex, and loving. We are independent and strong and can speak our minds, especially during a bad call. 

    We started our Twins Twitter group to talk about the Twins and baseball in general. We decided to meet up and say hi to each other and meet in person. After all, we have spent hours talking about the game, the players, the organization, and the rules. Our group ranges from all areas, professions and ages. We have different views on the game's rules and how plays, contracts, and rosters are made. We all have different views on life, but we all come together and agree on one thing: we love Twins baseball.  

    We all have memories stemming from childhood, talking about our favorite players of yesteryear: Trevor Plouffe,  Brad Radke, LaTroy Hawkins, Justin Morneau, and now fanning over players like Byron Buxton, Joe Ryan, Carlos Correa, and Max Kepler. This season's line-up, the trades, and the acquisitions left our mouths watering for the home opener after the excruciating 99-day lockout.

    To say the lockout unhinged us may be an understatement. None of us could imagine a world without baseball, relying on rumors, old stories, and hopes of what was to come. The day finally arrived, though, and as I walked around the stadium, I noticed the number of women in attendance, and it made my heart full. 

    I arrived through Gate 34 as the Mariners were taking batting practice. Crowded around the railing were tons of people hoping to catch a ball, so I moseyed on over to watch the kids holler and wave in hopes of getting a big leaguer's attention for the coveted official MLB ball. Harley was there with her dad, Alex. She had just caught a ball, and in a pink hat that was just a little too big for her, she jumped up and down in excitement at her first ball from a major league player. Her dad took her ball and placed it in her bag as she turned around, almost hoping for more balls to be thrown her way. 

    Harley was here for her second home opener and arrived early like the rest of us to catch some batting practice and watch the players. Not bad for a four-year-old. She doesn't know the players yet, but that's okay; she is more excited about watching the game, catching the balls, and getting snacks. She has plenty of time to learn the other stuff, and dad Alex is an avid fan who encourages her fandom. She's more interested in catching more balls than speaking to me but allowed me a little extra time to ask what her favorite food was at the stadium, and she said Cotton Candy, which earned an emphatic high five from me because that's my favorite too. 

    She went on to tell me that she played baseball outside of the stadium, and she enjoyed it.

    That's the thing about baseball, it's fun, and it's for everyone. Seeing her excitement for the day and what it entailed showed me that we have not only future generations of fans but also future generations of women who will grow in the game. She has core memories that she will be able to share with her kids and traditions that will lead her to keep the game alive for generations to come. 

     "They'll watch the game, and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again." 

     - Terrance Mann Field of Dreams

    The impact of baseball has erased many things like sadness during a pandemic, made things whole like bringing us together after, and kept things constant in a world that seems unsure. 

    Melissa and Pamela have been coming to games together since before they had their kids. This year is different. This is the first time they brought their daughters along for the experience and joined in the home opener's annual tradition. Melissa was excited about all the new food showcased this season, and they were all excited for the team as a whole.  

    I love when I run into baseball fans who understand baseball's business and don't get too attached to the players. When I asked if any of the trades bothered them, they said, "no. Not really". They were excited about the team and the potential they have. 

    I could tell that the girls, Amanda, Taylor, and Anglea, the daughters of Pamela and Melissa, were raised in Twins Territory and shared the passion with their moms. Their first opening day was a little chilly, but they didn't let that stop them from stopping to take pictures and taking in the sights on the greens inside gate 34. They knew just as much about the team, and we're excited to join in the tradition.

    Baseball is all about traditions and transcends years. Traditions are something that brings us and keeps us close, and give us something to look forward to every year. Since they were kids, Jenny, Katie, Tiffany, and Marcy have not only been Twins fans but have been coming to the season opener since as far back as they can remember, to the Metrodome era. They don't have season tickets, but they make sure that they get together to make it to opening day and many other games as a group. They enjoy cheering on their favorite players in a fun, reverberant fashion. 

    They cheer on the players as they take their place on the field, and fans around them know that they are there for the players. They want the team as a whole to succeed, specifically with better fielding and hopefully pitching. They are passionate about this team and start to recall the previous series and games they have been at. They were even at the last regular-season game in the Metrodome on October 6th, where the Twins won a fantastic 12-inning game, 6-5, to reach the postseason. As they reminisced about the games they attended, there was talk about a sign they had during one of the games, and Marcy quickly shut down the conversation in a "we don't talk about Bruno"-esque fashion. Like unspoken rules in baseball, some things are sacred and not discussed. 

    They had so many memories of their favorite players, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, and Joe Mauer the stories and years seem to overlap. That's what this game does. It creates core memories, memories that carry on after we are gone. 

    That's what Jane is doing, carrying on her father's traditions with her. Jane is bundled up, sitting in the shadows of 111 with her phone, earphones, a device she was listening to the game on, and a scorebook. She took in the game, kept score on her score sheet, and watched the players and the umps. If anyone can rattle off stats like they were nothing, it’s her. 

    I just sat in awe, watching her and listening to her story. Her dad took her to games since the Twins were at the Met when it opened in 1961. She remembers going to games with her dad there. He would bring his scorebook and keep track, he taught her how to do the same, and it's how she fell in love with the game. If there is a fan that I genuinely aspire to be like, it's Jane. 

    Jane is quiet, probably early 60's, and remembers all the greats: Tony Oliva, Kirby Puckett, Jim Kaat, but her favorite player? Joe Mauer. I was a little taken aback by the statement. I know the millennials love him for many reasons, but Jane has her reasons too. She used to watch Joe in college, so she watched Joe Mauer grow up in the game. Her fondest memories are every time he would get a personal, division, or league record. She knows so much about the team that to her, Joe Mauer is the definition of Minnesota baseball, and so is Jane. 

    There are so many amazing things about baseball and its fans. It truly creates bonds that countermand politics, religion, and economics. While I hope to see the women I interviewed on opening day again, all of them made an impact on me that I will carry with me forever. It was fantastic to see the game through other women's eyes. 

    As for our group? We talk every day, through every game, and it's one of the best things that ever happened to me.  We grieve over losses, cheer over wins, and gripe about bad calls and the things we think should be done differently. We have some of the smartest women in the group, and I never knew how fun sports could be once you found a group with which you can share experiences. We genuinely have a bond that can’t be broken because it all centers around something we all love. 

    In a sport typically a "man world," women are closing in on evening out the gap from fans to correspondents, journalists, players, and now MLB coaches. The ceiling has been shattered, and I am so glad to be a part of a generation of women actively growing in baseball. 

    Follow my friends to talk Twins baseball with some of the savviest minds in Minnesota: 

     

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    i can’t like this article enough! Thank you!

    You should encourage all your women friends to participate on TD, if they don’t already. The forums and blogs await! Game threads in particular. It amazes me with all the women fans out there, female fans don’t make up half the participants here ... yet. I’m not much of a Twitter person, but have participated on message boards and websites for years and usually I’ve been one of two or three women. It’s nice seeing those numbers grow. It hasn’t always been an easy experience, for various reasons, but for the love of the game, and having others to talk Twins with, since I live out of state, I stick with it. So, send your friends here! It's a great community!

    Me, circa 1966? Forget the toy guns (not sure how or why that was a thing), but look at the sweatshirt I'm wearing ... 1965 American League champs :) Kinda wish I still had those sunglasses, though.

     

     

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    56 minutes ago, Squirrel said:

    i can’t like this article enough! Thank you!

    You should encourage all your women friends to participate on TD, if they don’t already. The forums and blogs await! Game threads in particular. It amazes me with all the women fans out there, female fans don’t make up half the participants here ... yet. I’m not much of a Twitter person, but have participated on message boards and websites for years and usually I’ve been one of two or three women. It’s nice seeing those numbers grow. It hasn’t always been an easy experience, for various reasons, but for the love of the game, and having others to talk Twins with, since I live out of state, I stick with it.

    Me, circa 1966? Forget the toy guns (not sure how or why that was a thing), but look at the sweatshirt I'm wearing ... 1965 American League champs :) Kinda wish I still had those sunglasses.

     

     

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    Very stylish!

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    In the world of dating services, I ended up searching for Minnesota Twins fan and connected with a wonderful lady and have been married going on 15 years this June, proposing to her via the Metrodome scoreboard in a game started by Matt Garza but won by Pat Neshek. Also, her engagement ring was a pretty jazzy Twins World Series replica!

    She even would purchase the partial season-ticket package during the years when our schedules permitted more games live!

    I am always a bit jealous as she finds TC Bear to be quite lovable. And every  State Fair when we visit Twinsland, Tony Oliva talks to her more than me.

    Thanks for seeking out all the wonderful fans of all ages and showing the Minnesota love for baseball, the sport that should be America's pastime and not running #2 to football.

    (photo from the wet and cold first game in the Dodgers series.)

     

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    Love the article Sherry!  Our little chat group makes me so happy. Most of my friends and family just aren’t on the same level of fandom as me, with the exception of my dad. And he says “he’s created a monster” with me. I told him there were way worse things to be addicted to! Plus we always have something to talk about.  He hates “the big city”, but occasionally I can get him to a game with me.

     

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    5 hours ago, Squirrel said:

    i can’t like this article enough! Thank you!

    You should encourage all your women friends to participate on TD, if they don’t already. The forums and blogs await! Game threads in particular. It amazes me with all the women fans out there, female fans don’t make up half the participants here ... yet. I’m not much of a Twitter person, but have participated on message boards and websites for years and usually I’ve been one of two or three women. It’s nice seeing those numbers grow. It hasn’t always been an easy experience, for various reasons, but for the love of the game, and having others to talk Twins with, since I live out of state, I stick with it. So, send your friends here! It's a great community!

    Me, circa 1966? Forget the toy guns (not sure how or why that was a thing), but look at the sweatshirt I'm wearing ... 1965 American League champs :) Kinda wish I still had those sunglasses, though.

     

     

    Screen Shot 2022-04-24 at 8.32.09 AM copy.png

    SQUIRREL!!!!!! what!? lol. I had NO idea! I am in AWE!!!!!! I love my time with you on the forums!!

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    1 hour ago, tonderk said:

    Love the article Sherry!  Our little chat group makes me so happy. Most of my friends and family just aren’t on the same level of fandom as me, with the exception of my dad. And he says “he’s created a monster” with me. I told him there were way worse things to be addicted to! Plus we always have something to talk about.  He hates “the big city”, but occasionally I can get him to a game with me.

     

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    Thank you for being one of my best friends and someone who makes me love the game more!

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    3 hours ago, Rosterman said:

    In the world of dating services, I ended up searching for Minnesota Twins fan and connected with a wonderful lady and have been married going on 15 years this June, proposing to her via the Metrodome scoreboard in a game started by Matt Garza but won by Pat Neshek. Also, her engagement ring was a pretty jazzy Twins World Series replica!

    She even would purchase the partial season-ticket package during the years when our schedules permitted more games live!

    I am always a bit jealous as she finds TC Bear to be quite lovable. And every  State Fair when we visit Twinsland, Tony Oliva talks to her more than me.

    Thanks for seeking out all the wonderful fans of all ages and showing the Minnesota love for baseball, the sport that should be America's pastime and not running #2 to football.

    (photo from the wet and cold first game in the Dodgers series.)

     

    277780196_10228452410161144_8128070979869312762_n.jpg

    Thank you for sharing your little love story! it's absolutely amazing and I love seeing it!! Thankyou for sharing your passion and your dating tips ;)

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    3 hours ago, twinssporto said:

    Great article! My sister has worked in the FO of the Florida Marlins for over 20 years and proudly sports her two World Series rings. Regardless, first and foremost she is a huge baseball fan. My daughter loves the game too. It's nice to see more women involved in the game at all levels including just being a fan.

     

    I would LOVE to meet your sister! Thank you for sharing your family generation traditions with yuor daughter!

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    4 hours ago, Sconnie said:

    Awesome work (as always) Sherry!

    My daughter and I listen to Gladden and Provus during our bedtime ritual. She asks me about the players to try to stall sleep. She’s 8 and not as excited about the game as Harley, but I’ll keep working on her.

    When I come home, see if she will come to a game!  she can hang out with me and we will make it fun!

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    I LOVE this article!  It may be my favorite of the things you have written.  I have a wife and daughter who love shopping, love the lake, love music and dancing, and love traveling, but they love baseball as well.  We have the Twins on wherever we are if we are not at the ballpark.  When we are out fishing, the baseball game is our constant companion.  I think you are right--there are more and more women baseball fans, and this is so important to the future of the game.  Bless you for writing this, and for contributing to TD.

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    I was only marginally successful getting 2 of my 3 daughters interested in baseball.  They gladly come to games with me, will pay attention when I'm at home listening to the game on the radio or watch episodes of Ken Burns' "Baseball" with me, but they don't really make time for baseball on their own.  Hopefully the seed is planted, and they'll find the game.  These two scamps are graduate students now.

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    I simply love this story, Sherry! So much fantastic content!

    Little Harley is amazing. When I was 4 my hometown team won the World Series: Milwaukee Braves over the hated Yankees, four games to three, 1957.

    That same summer my grandpa took me to see his beloved Cubs at Wrigley field, not many weeks later he died of a heart attack.

    Growing up, my dad, mom, sister and I would listen to the Braves on the radio while relaxing on our screen porch.

    After the Brewers came to town, the Twins would visit County Stadium in Milwaukee frequently. I remember being awed by the home runs that Harmon Killebrew always seemed to hit there.

    It’s a pleasure to see more and more women working in baseball in various capacities as well as writing for outlets like the Athletic, MLB.com, the Star Tribune (Megan), the Pioneer Press (Betsy) — and of course you and Melissa B. and the fun commentators here at TD!

     

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    I've been a Twins fan since the earliest years. I have only very vague memories of the 1961 season but started to pay more attention the following year. While my dad was a fan I credit my mom with making baseball part of our family's lives. There weren't very many televised games back then but she usually had the radio tuned in with Herb Carneal and the rest of the crew.

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    MLB has really stepped forward and promoted women/girls in the game at all levels. It is brilliant and good for the game all around. I saw a recent interview with Rachel Balkovec on MLB Network and she encouraged women to get into the industry and stated that their resumes would go to the top of the candidate pile. This is good for the future of the sport. My youngest daughter is the only child of six that will give baseball more than a moment's notice. She's 8 and I convinced her to play in the all girls baseball tournament in June sponsored by the Twins organization. 

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    10 hours ago, Nine of twelve said:

    I've been a Twins fan since the earliest years. I have only very vague memories of the 1961 season but started to pay more attention the following year. While my dad was a fan I credit my mom with making baseball part of our family's lives. There weren't very many televised games back then but she usually had the radio tuned in with Herb Carneal and the rest of the crew.

    Same with my Mom, again back in the mid-60s and then some. One year she actually kept a score card for every game. Wish she had kept that … it would have been interesting to see. She lives in Florida now but still enjoys going to a game when I visit, either for ST or to see a Miracle (now Mussels) game. She said growing up on their farm, long before the Twins existed, she followed the Cardinals on the radio. There may have also been some kind of affiliate or minor league team nearby, but that story is foggy.

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    I feel that I should have placed more of a premium on finding a spouse who loved baseball back when I was dating. In fairness, I feel that my spouse misrepresented herself. She went to more baseball games with me while we were dating than she has in the 30 years we have been married. 

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    19 hours ago, Nine of twelve said:

    I've been a Twins fan since the earliest years. I have only very vague memories of the 1961 season but started to pay more attention the following year. While my dad was a fan I credit my mom with making baseball part of our family's lives. There weren't very many televised games back then but she usually had the radio tuned in with Herb Carneal and the rest of the crew.

    My story is story is similar.  My interest in baseball really came from mom because mom always had the games on 'CCO.  Herb was the voice of my youth.  Dad didn't care for baseball.

    Mom grew up on a farm in Iowa that didn't have electricity until she was 13 years old.  They must have followed the games in the paper.  Her immigrant father was a Cardinals fan because he spent one summer working in a factory in St. Louis.  Mom started out as Cleveland fan because of Bob Feller, of course.  That all changed when Jackie broke in with the Dodgers.  Iowa farm girl becomes a Brooklyn fan.

    Years later I was with my youngest at Cooperstown, and I was so pleased to report back to mom that Jackie Robinson's and Bob Feller's plaques were hanging next to each other in the Plaque Gallery.

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