America’s Symbol of Community

Friday July 7th, 2013

Dear Diary,

I woke up so excited! I could barely go to bed last night because I was so excited for today! Later tonight my family is going to a River Cats game! I have never been to a professional baseball game let alone a River Cats game before and I don’t know what to expect! My dad always talks about how much fun the games are because of the other fans that are there. He says it’s like one big family there all cheering for the same team! I cannot wait! I will write later tonight to tell you about my experience!

……………..

WOW! All I have to say is wow! I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a blast I had! I just want to know when the next game is so that we can go again! My dad was right, tonight I made so many friends and I really did feel like part of that baseball family. Any stranger at the park was willing to give high fives and start cheers with you. My favorite part was when the team would hit a home run and the whole stadium would erupt into noise. Everyone is there to have fun and make memories whether it was with their family, friends, or coworkers. I have never experienced such energy from so many people in one place!

There were so many things going on in addition to the players just playing ball. There were free handouts as we entered and after going through the gates one of the people that worked there approached my family and asked if we had wanted a free upgrade as part of a randomly selected promo that they run. My family got to sit in really good seats right behind home plate! We got there early before the game started and it was interesting to sit and people watch. I noticed that the fans ranged from all ages and types. There was not one “typical fan” type. I loved watching the parents with little children carrying their gloves in hopes of catching a foul ball. You could tell that the parents were trying to give their child the most memorable time possible whether it was snow cones, foam fingers, or a good old ballpark hot dog.

Before the game one thing that really hit me was the national anthem! It was awesome to see so many Americans stop what they are doing, come together, and honor their country that they are so proud of! In honor of stroke awareness they had a group of older stroke survivors sing the national anthem. It was touching to see a group like them give it all they could to honor America. They may not have been the best singers but the fans absolutely loved them and cheered them on because they were a part of their “baseball community.” When the game began there were so many fun things like a pop fly competition or a super ropes race with two couples or my personal favorite the T-shirt cannon! They threw a bunch of T-shirts out and sure enough my family caught one! We opened it up to look at the shirt and surprisingly there was a voucher for a free hotdog in there!

All of the concessions are a huge part of the game and something that unites all of the fans! Of course our family couldn’t leave the stadium without eating a hotdog in the ballpark and drinking an ice cold Coca-Cola. My parents told me about the times that their parents took them to games and they shared hotdogs and cokes together.

Some more in game activities included a race of these big heads representing Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan, and Gray Davis. My family and I even got to take a picture with them! But of course there was the classic seventh inning stretch where just about every fan in the stands stood up together to stretch out and participate in the famous dance that goes along with the song. It’s traditions like these that really make me appreciate baseball games.

I may not know the person sitting next to me yet we cheer the whole game together in hope that our team will bring home the win that night. After experiencing a game like this, I realized my dad was completely right about the baseball community. The only question I had was what would the game be like if the stadium was empty, no one was there, and no fans were cheering the team on? Would I still have the same experience of watching a baseball game or would it be completely different?

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About tayjern

Hello my name is Taylor Jern and I am a sophomore majoring in Managerial Economics. I am from Corona, CA which is in Southern California. My hobbies include all sports especially soccer, which I play on the Women's Soccer Team here at Davis. I would love to get to know you! :)
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One Response to America’s Symbol of Community

  1. tayjern says:

    Commentary:
    Imagine a ballpark with no fans. Showing up to watch the big game and there is no one in sight. No cheering, no clapping, no kids running around, no laughing, talking or noises from the crowd just the sound of the wind, thousands of empty seats, and a deserted field. Come back to that very same field on game day and BOOM thousands of fans, lots of noise, and most importantly a family-like community is present. I have created a video that captures this transformation using footage from a Sacramento River Cats game. I was able to make this possible because I have an internship under the promotions manager for the team. I am responsible for planning, setting up, and executing all events and promotions that occur during each game. I chose to create this video because I feel that baseball fans display the sense of community that sporting events bring to America. I also chose to do this because of my love for sports and I feel that baseball is an icon in our country because it is known as “America’s past time.”
    The first recorded baseball game was held in 1849 in New Jersey (Sullivan). In the 1950’s baseball was extremely popular in the New York Metropolitan area. In 1869 the first fully professional baseball team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings (Sullivan). The MLB is America’s main baseball association that consists of 30 teams throughout America and one team from Canada (Baseball Almanac). By 1856, American newspapers and journals named baseball the “national pastime” or “national game” and ever since then, the name has stuck (Tygiel).
    The Sacramento River Cats are a minor league baseball team located out of West Sacramento. They were founded in 1978 and play at Raley Field (Sacramento Bee). The River Cats average 10,000 fans per game and Forbes has rated them the most valuable Minor league team in 2012 (Forbes). They are AAA affiliates of the Oakland A’s.
    These images portray America’s love for sports through the thousands of fans that come. It also displays American’s competitive spirit and most importantly, the feeling of community that the fans experience while at a game. A fan at any given moment will be cheering with the people around them for the same team yet they have never met before. These fans share common interests: a love for the game and the ballpark atmosphere. This is shown through all the cheering, clapping, high fives, crowd waves, and overall presence of the fans. Also, these games have become a family event. When parents make it a point to bring their children to a game, it shows that the experience is more then just a baseball game. It represents the countless memories fans make every game as they cheer on the team as one community. At Raley Field there are always family centered promotions like Toyota Family Tuesdays (where they offer family ticket packages, $1 hot dogs, and $1 ice cream), Fireworks Fridays and Saturdays (a full fireworks show is shown over the outfield immediately after the game), and kids run the bases on Sundays (after the game, all kids can run the bases on the field). These promotions are offered to promote that family culture which creates a family style community at the ballpark. Community can also been seen through the stadiums commercialized venue in by the selling of: tickets to get in, paraphernalia at the on deck shop, and food on the concourse. For example, many fans will share the experience of enjoying an icy cold Coca-Cola at the ballpark. This case of consumer participation supports the community through shared values, opportunity, and rituals each and every game.
    This symbol has been seen through Stuart Hall’s article Representation Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. In this article Hall states, “Representation is an essential part of the process by which meaning is produced and exchanged between members of a culture” (Hall, 15). In this case, the culture of the fans, players, and the ballpark have its own representation like phrases and images used within and around the game. Some other examples of baseball’s representation are the mascot, the chants, the news and media coverage, and the many promotional materials. This representation is part of the process that produces the meaning of community to every fan that enters. This has become a culture for everyone in attendance at these baseball games. When you break it down, it seems like it just some grass, dirt, 9 players, 1 batter, a bat, and a ball, yet this sport consistently brings together thousands of fans every game for that special something that is intangible: community.

    Works Cited

    1. Sullivan, Dean (ed.) (1997). Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825–1908. Univ. of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-9244-9. OCLC 36258074.
    2. “Year In Review: 2000 National League”. http://www.baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved 2008-09-05.
    3. Tygiel, Jules (2000). Past Time: Baseball as History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-508958-8. OCLC 42290019
    4. “River Cats owner dies suddenly at home.” Sacramento River Cats. Retrieved on 21 November 2009.
    5. “How Billionaires Like Warren Buffett Profit From Minor League Baseball Ownership ” Forbes. Retrieved on 6 June 2012.

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