Friday, October 12, 2012


Twenty minutes before the Oakland A’s and the Detroit Tigers tangled in last night’s American League Division Series finale, a bunch of yahoos seated behind us started hurling a torrent of verbal abuse at Justin Verlander, the Tigers’ starter, as he strolled to the bullpen to warm up.

“Pussy, pussy, pussy,” they screamed, fingers pointed as if he were a molester or other serious criminal.

I looked over at my co-worker and friend, Erik, who was seated next to another friend of his, Ed, who’d been a groomsman at Erik’s wedding. “I paid good money for these seats,” which were four rows from the field opposite first base. “OK, they were free,” I added, “but I am not going to listen to these guys talking crap all night.”

Erik had gotten four comp seats from another friend, a season ticket holder, but I told him if these guys yelled “Pussy” one more time, I was getting in their faces. “They’re offensive,” I muttered.

Another guy, three rows behind me to my left, stood in the aisle and shouted, thrusting his finger back and forth, back and forth, “Shut up, shut up, shut up,” as Verlander approached the bullpen mound.

And all night long, guys in sections near us felt compelled to yell obscenities and insults at any Tiger player within sight. Miguel Cabrera, the man who just won the Triple Crown for the first time since 1967? The boos and taunts rained down on him from the moment he stepped into the batter’s box, as they did for Prince Fielder, the Tigers’ five-foot eleven, 300 lb. power hitter.

“Twinkie, twinkie, run after your twinkies,” they yelled at the portly Fielder, or they said, “Cecil, Cecil, Cecil,” the first name of his estranged father, a former major leaguer.

Why do some people, often emboldened by alcohol, feel the compulsion and right to be so idiotic? First, do the players even hear them amid the din of 48,000 fans? But, even if they do, why do some fans seem to take an almost cruel joy in heckling?

Several years ago, after Malcolm Kerr, a leading academic on the Middle East, was killed by terrorists in 1984 while teaching in Lebanon, a group of Arizona State students chanted at his son , Steve Kerr, an Arizona shooting guard, in 1988, “PLO, PLO . . . “and “Your father's history,” and “Why don't you join the Marines and go back to Beirut?”

Kerr said at the time, “When I heard it, I just dropped the ball and started shaking. I sat down for a minute. I'll admit they got to me. I had tears in my eyes. For one thing, it brought back memories of my dad. But, for another thing, it was just sad that people would do something like that.”

Ushers and other stadium officials are instructed to remove anyone from major league ballparks and stadiums if they use inappropriate language. I am not a Puritan, but I do draw the line at offensive comments, obscenities, and other foul remarks. I am there to enjoy the game, socialize with friends, converse with strangers, and there is no excuse for real fans to act so stupidly, drunk or not.

Now that I am about to climb off my soapbox, I did have one way to sort of shield myself from the abuse going on around me. I started reading the book I’d brought. You can only imagine the comments I got.


  1. Very nice piece! I never knew you had this blogspot. I might have to read it more often. Andy Altman-Ohr

  2. Hello! I saw your letter in the Funds for Writers newsletter, along with a link to this blog. Well done! There aren't too many male bloggers out there--this is great!