FanPost

Fans As In Fanatics

I was following the back and forth between Jay and Voltaire and was reminded of something.  Let me do a little "self-hating" here and note that the Cleveland fan base - in general - has become less "fanatic" over the past few decades.

In the 50's and 60's all of Cleveland's fans for all the sports were, for the most part, working class guys - note the guys part.  Tickets were inexpensive, back when the minimum wage was $1.50 an hour you could get a ticket to an Indians game for about two bucks and a Browns game for about five.  Parking for a Tribe game was often free - if you didn't mind parking just north of the railroad tracks between W3rd and W9th.  You might get held up for two bucks to park there during a Brown's game, but I always thought that was some kinda scam run by a couple a guys who had the balls to charge you to park on a lot they didn't own.  But as the prices rose, attending baseball and football and basketball games became more a leisure activity for those who had more "disposable income".  That and the fact that all of the high paying blue collar jobs at the mill or the GM diesel yard or Sherman Williams or a host of other now defunct and vanished plants withered up and died and left fewer and fewer working class guys with enough money to actually go to the games.  So now an activity that was almost exclusively played by the working class and watched by the working class became less and less their province.  They hadn't been priced out of playing it, but they have been priced out of watching it.

This was brought home to me when my brother and I got tickets to a Seahawks/Browns game.  The seats were in the second row of the upper deck exactly on the 50 yard line.  One seat left or right of where we were sitting woulda put you on the 49.  My brother and I were usta sitting with the maniacs in lower corners or the bleachers.  Here guys would be falling outta the stands when the Brown's gotta first down - all hell would break lose if they actually scored a touchdown.  But up here, surrounded by doctors and lawyers and captain's of industry on the 50 you'd get that polite golf clap when the Brown's scored.  Half the time they were too busy smoozing or talking on their cell phone to actually see what the hell was going on.  

So when the Indians left the old Cleveland Municipal to the Jake I think something else left the team also.  When going to Tribe games became "hip" the warp and woof of the crowd changed too.  Gone where the leather-lunged steel workers with the profane Noel Coward wit and the bleacher bums too into the game to worry about being pelted with freezing rain.  Of course the losing left too, that might have something to do with it - I'm not sure.  All I know is it ain't the same crowd there now that was there when I was a kid.

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