I’m a longtime season ticketholder and have posted before about the attendance issue. Today I finally got the impression that the casual fans may be about to show a much more serious interest in the team—enough of an interest, in fact, to start showing up for games in much greater numbers.
As before, the evidence I offer is anecdotal in nature and hence I may be overinterpreting it. But for what it is worth, here it is anyway.
Following a several-year old routine, this afternoon I took my regular one mile walk to my local Starbucks here in small town Northeast Ohio. As always, I wore my Tribe cap. But unlike any other day in the last three years of these daily visits, today the baristas wanted to talk about the Indians, and they were pretty excited about the team. And it was the baristas who brought the subject up.
Before I was just some older guy who always wore an Indians cap. Now I was an authority on the Cleveland Indians.
They had apparently all seen the game on television the night before. When I told them that I was there it seemed to engender a little respect, maybe even some envy.
One young woman asked the name of the rookie who had hit his first home run. I told her that it was Lonnie Chisenhall, and she said that she was going to have to start learning the players’ names. The young man working next to her asked about the cost of tickets in various locations at Progressive Field. It turned out that the store’s seventeen employees have decided to go to an Indians game for their annual summer outing—something they’ve never done before. So the Indians can now count on selling seventeen more tickets than they sold in recent years.
I mention this because it immediately reminded me of the last time I had a similar experience. It was in the spring of 1995 and involved my regular golf group. For the ten or twelve years I had been playing with them I always wore my Tribe cap. They knew that I went to a lot of games, but the Indians were never a subject that interested them before. Now they suddenly wanted to talk about little else. And then they started asking to go to games. And we all know how the community embraced the team over the next seven years.
This current time strikes me as being like 1995 in other respects, too. Then the Browns and Cavs were terrible (the Browns were to announce their departure several months later), and casual sports fans seemed to be looking for a different team to follow. Now, of course, both the NBA and the NFL are in the midst of work stoppages, and the Browns and Cavs are both bad teams.
So I wonder if the stars might not be aligning properly once again for a rebirth of fan support for the Tribe. Several days ago Terry Pluto said the team was anticipating attendance of about 15,000 fans per game for the Toronto series. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a lot better.