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The Old Man at the Ballpark

Mar 4, 2013, 4:57 PM EDT

Old Guy

It’s a beautiful day here in Surprise, but being a Monday, it’s a lazy day too. Not a big crowd either, so I decided to take in the first six innings or so from the stands.  I squatted in the first row of the tiny second deck along the third base line. Wonderful seats. And the company was fantastic.

Sitting two rows behind me was an old Rangers fan. The one with the mustache over my shoulder. I want to take him home with me. He knows a lot about baseball, he’s sarcastic, he complains a lot, but he seemed to have a lot of fun doing it. Actually, I think he is me, about 30 years in the future.

He started heckling in the first inning, but his heckling was all well-informed:

  • When right fielder Engel Beltre ranged far to the gap to pull in a fly at the wall he said “Cruz doesn’t get that.” Then added “God damn Cruz.”
  • When Lance Berkman popped out foul on the first pitch he said “Atta boy Berkman, make ‘em work!”  I love that his heckling is informed by an appreciation of both defensive range and plate patience.
  • Padres’ first baseman Kyle Blanks hit a long home run. The man said “He knocked the “s***” outta that one!”  Then he told the pitcher who gave up the homer, Neal Cotts, “Don’t throw another one of those, OK?”
  • Later, when Berkman grounded out he said “we lose Hamilton, and we get this guy.” At that point the man’s adult son said, in a somewhat disgusted tone said “I will get you an Angels jersey if you keep this up. Do you want that?” The old man chuckled. I have this feeling he’s been driving his son crazy for years, and I hope some day my I can say I’ve done the same to my son.

There’s a fine line between being a jerk and not being a jerk. This guy seems like a master. He’s tongue in cheek enough to where he doesn’t seem mean. He’s old enough to where it’s clear that he’s not trying to impress anyone. He just likes his baseball, dammit, and prefers it if his Texas Rangers don’t suck at it.  I imagine it wears thin after a while — God bless his poor son — but for six innings it was wonderful.

  1. stlouis1baseball - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    Hahaha! Still wearing that slackers hat huh Craig?
    I gotta’ tell you…the look on your face (the part that I can see anyway)…is classic.
    Like…”I am drowing in this guys Rangers sorrow.” “But I enjoy the way he is tormenting his son.”

  2. darthicarus - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    I want to be that guy as well when I get older. Well informed heckler, maybe throw in some snark, and get on my kids’ nerves. CAN’T WAIT!

    • vanmorrissey - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      This is classic, just classic! That’s what you pay your couple bucks for in spring training. Man, just wish I could hear the dude during regular season! Sitting by him was as entertaining as the game itself, that’s what fans love! Not just on field action (or inaction), it’s fan response and banter.

  3. cur68 - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    Not only a good baseball fan, but he’s got world class whiskers, too. I might start growing m’self one them lil beauties. I sure hope Joba Chamberlian looks at HBT and checks out that gent’s handlebar. See, Joba? That’s a Grown Up moustache. Now go was your face.

    • Cris E - Mar 5, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      And check out his companion: it’s like the Texas version of Statler and Waldorf.

  4. jtorrey13 - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    God bless the trolls and I hope the weather under their bridges stays warm and moist.

  5. illegalblues - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    stories like this make me feel way less awful about turning 30 this year.

    • paperlions - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      I’m just giving you a thumbs down because you are bitching about turning 30. You think it’s bad now? You will never again feel as good as you do now.

      • illegalblues - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:30 PM

        man, that doesn’t help. doesn’t help at all. buncha old folks :(:(:(

      • paperlions - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:37 PM

        Not just old….old and jealous of you not being old.

      • illegalblues - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM

        hahaha i can dig it

      • historiophiliac - Mar 5, 2013 at 12:23 AM

        Boooo!!!

        /throws Depends

      • paperlions - Mar 5, 2013 at 7:03 AM

        I hope you picked up your depends, you’ll need it later and you won’t remember where you put them.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 5, 2013 at 8:01 AM

        You’re the old man…and a Jealous Green one too apparently. Borrowed cur’s t-shirt, did you?

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 5, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      Yep…thumbs down from me to Blues.
      Bitchin’ about turning 30. Turning 30!
      Try 40. As Paper said…you will never again feel as good as you do now.
      So go get me a beer! Why else do you think we keep you around?

  6. mscxvd - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    “Cruz doesn’t get that. God damn Cruz.”

    Ha! I must meet this guy!

  7. historiophiliac - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    His dad is so cool. I hope you bought him a beer, Craig.

  8. thebadguyswon - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    You should offer him a gig at HBT.

  9. El Bravo - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    Craig, did you get confirmation of the quotations before print time? I wouldn’t want to misquote that tough guy and then have his son read your blog, tell him about your misquote, and then he’ll make his way to your fortified compound with a can full ‘o’ whoopass!

  10. nightman13 - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Sad thing is you get less and less of those types at games now. Now that every new stadium needs 18 arcades, a ferris wheel and a three ring circus to “enhance” the fan experience there are less and less real fans at games.

    Baseball games have become social gatherings where you tailgate, get wasted and then be obnoxious, or you get the family with 17 screaming kids. It seems like only 5% of the crowd is actually there to watch baseball, while the rest are there because it’s “something to do.”

    All teams should be required to subdivide the stadium into sections by type. The real fan section, the crotchety old man section, the boozehound section, the crying room, the texting and lol’ing section and whatever else. That way I can choose to avoid everybody that pisses me off at games.

    • paint771 - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:58 PM

      Yeah yeah, just like that. Except maybe try to make it funny. And one line. And maybe throw in a “God damn Cruz” for good measure, because that’s always a winner.

      So more like:

      “Hey son, get me a beer. I think it’s by the Ferris wheel or some shit.” [beat] “God damn Cruz.”

      Also, grow a mustache.

      • indaburg - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:47 PM

        Slow clap.

        That, sir, was awesome.

    • jlovenotjlo - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:25 PM

      Sounds like you just go to a lot of games at Wrigley Field

    • Jonny 5 - Mar 4, 2013 at 7:09 PM

      I ALWAYS make friends with old men because they are hilarious and have tons of great stories. People who don’t get that are just missing out on life.

  11. Innocent Bystander - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Is that a Win Probability Added hat?!?

    • Caught Looking - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:33 PM

      With Craig, it’s probably Works Progress Administration.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:39 PM

        It is Works Progress Administration

      • paperlions - Mar 4, 2013 at 8:09 PM

        Now I’m unsure….I always thought CEO meant Capital Embezzlement Officer or Capital Extraction Officer…are those not right either?

      • Innocent Bystander - Mar 4, 2013 at 9:08 PM

        Disappointing. I thought Craig was letting his baseball stats geek out. Instead it’s just his regular geek.

        Anyway…anybody know where I can get an OPS+ hat?

      • Gamera the Brave - Mar 4, 2013 at 11:10 PM

        Damn it, was going to bust out a “New Deal” or FDR joke, but I was way too late…

  12. APBA Guy - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    The old man’s son (to his left) looks like he’s aged just during the game. Must be the embarrassment.

  13. DJ MC - Mar 4, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    Considering the only people I tend to have behind me in the bleachers at Camden Yards are the kind who spend the whole game yelling drunken, uncreative, unfunny insults at Random Centerfielder X*, I’m happy for you.

    *One guy spent an entire game heckling Mitch Maier. Mitch freaking Maier. Though, by the time the guy apparently started reading Maier’s BR page (“You only batted .255 in the Texas League! You suck!”) it did start to get amusing. Like one of those Family Guy gags that goes on for five minutes and gets annoying before being funny again.

  14. craigmaitland - Mar 4, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    Lol great article man. Baseball is so much more than the game on the field.

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