Skip to content

We’ve done a 360 on “The Best Fans in Baseball” thing

Apr 8, 2013, 11:06 AM EDT

Cardinals logo

I’m not sure when the notion that Cardinals fans are “The Best Fans in Baseball” started. I think it was during the McGwire years or soon after when some high profile veterans chose to wind down their career in St. Louis, citing said fans as such.  And the claim was repeated without much criticism for several years after, even by folks with no connection to St. Louis. National broadcasters not named Buck and McCarver and such.

In recent years TBFiB thing has started to grow quotation marks, with many mockingly citing it or only citing it when Cardinals fans do something that demonstrates the opposite. Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch is great for that, by the way.  The point is, there is now way more of an eye-roll associated with TBFiB thing in the past couple of years, even if no one thinks the claim is particularly important one way or another.

Today Bernie Miklasz is going revivalist on the idea, giving a full-throated endorsement of Cardinals fans as The Best Fans in Baseball:

This [Best Fans in Baseball] boasting annoys other fan bases, especially in Cincinnati, Milwaukee and on the North Side of Chicago. I’m sure that Red Sox fans throughout New England would dispute the St. Louis claim. The New York Yankees’ faithful would likely offer a few choice, colorful words of dissent.

Except that deep down inside, they know it is true.

Brave stance for a St, Louis radio/newspaper guy to take.

(just kidding Bernie, love ya, baby)

  1. shaggylocks - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Sounds like you’re saying we’ve done a 180 on TBFiB thing…

    • shaggylocks - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      Oh, you know what? Ignore this comment, because it demonstrates a lack of reading comprehension on my part. My bad. 360 it is.

  2. sir1389 - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    I’ve never heard a convincing argument for any other fan base to wear such a title other than the fans in St Louis.

    • splintchesthair - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      How about an argument that claiming to be better at liking baseball than everyone else is extremely irritating?

    • pastabelly - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      Both the Red Sox and Yankees have strong regional and national fan bases and that is grounds for any argument about which teams have the “best” fan base. How do define “best” anyway? Most knowledgable? Willing to travel to other parks to see their team? 365 days a year interest on sports talk radio? TV ratings? Well, I’m convinced the Red Sox have the best fans are their local tv ratings were in the top five last year, despite losing 93 games. Does being obsessed with your team make you a great team? Well, it makes you a fanatic. I thought the Red Sox interest would really fall off this year. I am not getting that feeling anymore. Their record setting sell out streak will come to an end after the home opener. But tv ratings will be up.

      • jbrashorlando - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        New York has the most brutal, critical, discouraging media and fans in the country. To this DAY they have words like “ChokeRod” and the like for their own players. The RedSox – I have nothing negative to say against them… and they swept my Cards in the 04 World Series so I wish I did. The Yankees however are not in the discussion. When Jim Edmonds came back to play St. Louis as A DIVISION RIVAL CUB – he got a nearly 60 second standing ovation. When was the last time the Yanks would do that? They aren’t even encouraging to their ACTIVE players.

    • seeingwhatsticks - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      I’ve never heard a convincing argument for the fans in St. Louis to have that title either.

    • fanofevilempire - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      Montreal Expos are the bestest everer.

  3. umrguy42 - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    I don’t get adamant about TBFiB, but I do like to be superior about other teams that use “___ Nation”. Cardinal Nation forever! :p

  4. kevinashcraft - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    This twitter feed is a must-follow

    They need to get over themselves.

    • sportsdrenched - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      I followed that account for general amusement for about two weeks. Then it got old real quick. #traders

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      One of the first ones I came across: “Waino f***ing kill yourself for allowing a triple to a piece of dog sh!t like Pagan.” Best fans indeed.

      • UgglasForearms - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        Yeah. I clicked the link and immediately saw posts like “suck my d*ck” and one calling Reds fans “fagg*ts” Real class there.

  5. Joe - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    I’m a Twins fan in StL. The train downtown was super-crowded with Cards fans at 8:30 this morning, which I thought was early for a noon game, even the opener. But there they were, tailgating and lining up outside the gates. Then I learned that the game isn’t until 3!

    Point is, Cards fans really are pretty zealous.

    • davidpom50 - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      I think the TFiBB thing goes way past zealousness. St Louis fans have a reputation as being knowledgeable and not doing dumb shit like starting the wave when their team is rallying, not getting on Cardinals players through minor slumps, andbeing respectful to opposing teams and fans (unlike fellow fans of my beloved Dodgers). I’ve never been to a game there, so I have no idea whether or not any of that is true, but I think that’s kind of the idea.

      • splintchesthair - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:42 AM

        The problem with that is that EVERY fan base has those knowledgeable, respectful, devoted fans. And EVERY fan base has its share of drunk, racist, front-running jerks, too. Just putting on a different color jersey doesn’t make you better at being a fan than everyone else.

      • davidpom50 - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:55 AM

        Yep. I totally agree with you.

      • hermitfool - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        I usually root against the Cardinals, but the older Cardinal fans compare favorably with any fans I’ve been around for graciousness and knowledge. You can find drunken jackasses at any ball park,but the average fan in St. Louis is a gentle baseball fanatic. I only hope those classy old farts, as they die off, are replaced by similar old farts.

      • shawndc04 - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:12 PM

        Well, of all the opposing fans that come to Nationals Park, the Cardinal fans seem to be the most knowledgeable and classy. They like to discuss the game and often are pretty knowledgeable about the Nationals. Dodger fans have been pretty classy as well, although, unsurprisingly, we don’t get too many of them. For all that is said about Boston fans, they were fine when the Sox were at the park. They rooted hard for their team, but they weren’t boorish.

  6. oldpaddy - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Everyone knows the marlins have the greatest fans! Knowledgeable, passionate and… who am I kidding?

  7. js20011041 - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    In my mind, there is no doubt which team has the best fans. It’s the Miami Marlins. Anyone who can root for that organization is a hell of a fan. All 17 of them.

    • oldpaddy - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:45 AM


  8. mybrunoblog - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Hard to quantify exactly what makes a teams fans the “best”. Is it just attendance? Tv ratings? Merchandise sold? I would certainly agree Cardinals fans are among the most loyal. One could also argue that fans who continue to show up year after year when a team isn’t consistently reaching post season (Cardinals 1969-1981 and 1988-1999) might actually be hurting their team. Some owners might lose their thirst to win and spend money when they are making tons of $. Food or thought.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      If I wanted to look at it objectively, I’d look at how much attendance and TV ratings fluctuate with winning percentage (call it elasticity). And I’d compare attendance with the size of the market living within an hour of the ballpark (it’s harder to fill a stadium in Milwaukee than New York). And I’d be more interested in share than ratings, even though I think the Nielsen numbers are pseudo-scientific garbage.

      But I really don’t care. Everyone thinks the fans of their favorite team are the best fans. And that’s okay with me.

  9. themuddychicken - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    I’ve never had anything against any Cards fans.

    To the extent that people such as myself always give an eyeroll, it has more to do with it feeling vastly overplayed, overdone, and too self-congratulatory. Incidentally, spending too much time reveling in being “The Best Fans in Baseball” would, in fact, work against that claim.

  10. clydeserra - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    I remember hearing St. Louis had TBFiB long before MCGwire.

    It doesn’t matter if its true or not, we are stuck with it

  11. beefytrout - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    There’s no question that st. louis fans deeply love their team, but I don’t see why that grants them the title of “best fans in baseball.” My dear old dad (who is from Missouri) has told me on many occasions that st. louis benefited from being the furthest team to the west at one point, so they were adopted by a lot of midwesterners back in the day. Nothing wrong with that, but that doesn’t really earn a “best” distinction either.

    My family hails from Missouri, I got to see lots of st. louis fans up close and personal in the 2011 WS, and just this past Friday hung out for a bit with a st. louis fan at Rangers Opening Day.

    Are they fervent? Yes. They’re also overly sensitive (the guy on Friday claimed that how Rangers fans booed JH was nothing compared to what st. louis would have done if pujols had gone to the cubs) and they get way more irritated than most other fans I’ve seen. For all the success the team has had, the fans sure seem to have a hard time enjoying it. They would rather bow up all the time and “defend the honor” of the team.

    • stlouis1baseball - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:13 PM

      You nailed it Trout! But I would counter that it isn’t them being adopted by “Midwesterners” so much. Rather…St. Louis WAS the West Coast team for years. That has translated into generations of Cardinals fans out West. As a result, the team has always traveled well. See their attendance figures (home and away). Something else comes to mind…
      Andy VanSlyke (I believe) was quoted several times about going through slumps while in St. Louis. Said it ist the only City he can think off that a player can be in the middle of an 0 – 25 slump and have his families dinner tab picked up by restaurant patrons. All the while…being told to keep his head up and continue swinging.
      All this aside…I couldn’t care less about the moniker. Be it a moniker bestowed upon the fans by someone else…or self-proclaimed. It simply doesn’t matter to me.

  12. Panda Claus - Apr 8, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    The best fans in baseball might be Miami fans, or at least the most unappreciated.

    There are fewer of them nowadays, therefore they probably have a lower “clownage” percentage in the group. Plus, they are their area residents are going to paying for that new ballpark for about 30 years, which also should count for something.

    Now if only they’d get a collection together so they can spring for an organist.

  13. bfunk1978 - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Growing up in central Illinois as a Cardinals fan, I’ve heard it for as long as I can remember. Back when there was only one Buck broadcasting and it wasn’t Joe. Back in the 1980s, they were saying it all the time. And I remember thinking, “I’m sure every club says that about their fans”. Even the perpetually shitty teams have the best fans, because I couldn’t imagine being a Pirates fan. 20 years of losing. I can’t imagine being an Astros fan, a fan of a team that’s going to break all the awful records. Surely they’re on pace to set a single-season strikeout record or some other “most futile offense” record. I don’t blame the fans in Miami for not showing up.

    In fact, I’d go so far as to say the only team that could NOT make that claim is Cincinnati. The Reds ran away with the division last year. So even with bandwagon jumpers, they still only averaged 28,000 per game. That’s up from when they weren’t very good, but it appears the Reds are the best-kept secret in town.

    • Marty McKee - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      Cincinnati is the only major league team that more or less declares Opening Day a holiday and holds a huge pregame celebration including a parade. Great fans in Cincy. The Reds’ regional television ratings were the second highest among all thirty MLB teams last season.

      • kalinedrive - Apr 8, 2013 at 3:02 PM

        Opening Day IS a holiday in Detroit.

        Tigers’ Jim Leyland: Opening Day a ‘celebration’ for Detroit

        Tigers manager Jim Leyland has always appreciated how Detroit celebrates Opening Day.

        “This is a celebration day for Detroit, there’s no question about that,” Leyland said during his pregame media session at Comerica Park this morning.

        Leyland said the way Detroit treats Opening Day reminds him of how folks similarly treated deer season years ago in Pennsylvania

        “It was like a holiday,” Leyland said. “People are pretty sensitive about animals and hunting, so I don’t want to make a big deal about it, but that was a big deal back then. “Dads took their kids…it was a big celebration day.”

        Al Kaline reflects on Opening Day; Craig Monroe couldn’t sleep

        Mr. Tiger reflected on what makes Opening Day in Detroit so special.

        “Opening Day is huge for a lot of cities,” he said. “But it seems like here, the people are more genuine and love the Tigers a little bit more.”

        Monroe recalled his first Opening Day in Detroit, in 2004:

        “I didn’t know what to expect but it was such a special, special event.”

        And the thing he remembers most wasn’t the game itself, but his trip to the stadium.

        “This right here, the fans. … As a player, when you’re driving up to the tunnel of the parking garage – oh, man – all the fans, all you can think about are them and how they celebrate Opening Day.

        “This is more of a holiday.”

      • bfunk1978 - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:25 AM

        So they show up one day a year,yippee.

      • bfunk1978 - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:26 AM

        That team deserves more than one day a year. It’s GOOD.

  14. zwilhelm16 - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Biggest cry baby fans for sure!

  15. themagicfanguy - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Phillies. In that order. Sox and Yanks are in a league of their own when it comes to fanatical fan bases.

    • spudchukar - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      As stated above, there are good fans and bad fans in every city and Baseball is certainly popular in said cities as well. The Best Fan thing is of debatable. But the fans in St. Louis have embraced the notion. It has becomes a contagious, self-governing, rule of thumb, one that would nice to see adopted everywhere.

      TMFG, you seem to conflate “best”, with “largest”, a true American error.

      Here is a stat that ought to give you pause. During the 2011 WS, 85% of the TV’s in St. Louis were tuned in to the game. 85%. That has never been achieved anywhere else. And second place isn’t close.

      • spudchukar - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:03 PM

        er… should read The Best Fan thing is of “course” debatable.

    • seeingwhatsticks - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:53 PM

      You’re kidding about the Dodgers right?

  16. louhudson23 - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    I was under the impression that this title was bestowed upon St. Louis based on baseball knowledge and understanding of the game. With particular credit going to Jack Buck and the multiple generations he “raised”in the game….Neither attendance nor a widespread fan base figuring into the equation .

    • gostlcards5 - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      I think it is more “all of the above”. Baseball knowledge, widespread fanbase, respectful, etc. (Yes, I am aware that not ALL Cards fans are respectful.)

      Regarding the widespread fan base: When I was a kid in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I listened to Buck/Shannon doing games all over the place, and it always seemed that there were Cards fans everywhere (spring training, away games, etc.), and you could always hear them on the radio cheering. Of course, some of it could’ve been the radio guys selling it, but it seemed that Cards fans were everywhere from StL to Florida through the Midwest-Southeast, and all the way out west to Colorado.

  17. packer42390 - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    The fans that always get left out in this discussion are the Royals fans. True Royals fans find it extremely annoying because we know the only difference between the two fan bases is the product we get to support. Kansas City showed last year how passionate (even if you believe it was misguided passion) they are durin all-star weekend. If the royals do start winning like they are attempting to do, people are goin to be stunned at the passion, smarts and savvy of royals fans. However, until this happens all we have to go by is the swarming of cardinals fans that come over during the I-70 series, so we can’t argue with the notion of St. Louis having the best fans in baseball.

  18. Marty McKee - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    Anybody dumb enough to think the Cardinals have the best fans need only follow this Twitter feed for awhile:

    • stlouis1baseball - Apr 8, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      Said the Cincinnati Reds fan.

  19. paperlions - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    I always took TBFiB thing to mean: the most polite and generally positive no matter what fan base. Compared to other places I’ve seen games, StL has a more positive, happy to be at the park, family feel.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:09 PM

      How many parks have you been to?

      • paperlions - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        Not that many. MN, KC, Bos, TX, Hou

      • historiophiliac - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        Ok, I just needed more data in order to assess your statement.

      • paperlions - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:15 PM

        As a Cardinal fan, I find TBFiB title to be annoying. I am content with the fact that Cardinal fans, as a group, are good fans (loyal and supportive). Any further dissection is just silliness.

      • paperlions - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        and CHC…not sure how I forgot that one.

  20. swmocardsfan - Apr 8, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    You can’t let a handful of idiots classify an entire fan base. People who come out and spew bigotry or profanity are not, in my opinion, TRUE fans of any club. Obviously I am going to tout my own team (as if my handle didn’t give it away), however my opinion is that the Cards fans have gained this moniker given the fact that not only do we stand by our team and do so passionately, but we also give respect to other teams and the sport during the game. Yes you are going to have idiots who prove me wrong, but that happens in every city. I have been at Busch Stadium and seen an entire section of Cards fans, in Cards gear, stand and applaud for an OPPOSING TEAM when an incredible play is made. Cardinal fans do like to throw barbs at the Cubs and Reds, because those are rivals but at the end of the day, if Brandon Phillips, regardless of the history between him and STL, makes an amazing play, I am going to give him the respect he has earned and applaud him. This is why STL gets the “Best fans in baseball” title to me.

    • splintchesthair - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:02 PM

      So if we take the idiots out of the equation, wouldn’t EVERY team have the Best Fans in Baseball? If we’re only counting the “passionate” and “respectful” fans? There were plenty of Astros fans applauding Darvish when he came out of his near-perfect game. St. Louis has a lot of very classy fans, but it does not have a monopoly on class.

      • gostlcards5 - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:27 PM

        No, I think clearly he is saying that there are things there with the StL fan base after you remove the idiots that other teams’ fans do not have or do. (Again, please note I am only clarifying SW Mo’s statement, not declaring that Cards fans are the best…)

        I would also say, SW Mo, that regardless of any play Brandon Phillips makes, I will never applaud him. He was the instigator that started the brawl which cost a good veteran catcher (for both the Reds and the Cards) the last couple of years of his career. I certainly might say “man, that was a great play”, but he will never get more than that from me, and that includes if the Cardinals traded for him or picked him up in FA.

      • gosport474 - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        Let’s dispel the notion that Jason LaRue was a good backup catcher. Go to the Baseball Reference and look at his last three years. The truth is in the numbers. What started the whole the thing was the year before when St. Louis came to Cincinnati late in the season and LaRussa, Carpenter, and Smoltz all complained about the baseballs not being rubbed up to their standards. Amazingly no Reds pitchers complained about using the same baseballs. And this is just one example of LaRussa’s and Carpenter’s assholery throughout the years. Brandon Phillips just simply told the truth.

      • gostlcards5 - Apr 8, 2013 at 3:46 PM

        First off, I am not going to disagree about the ass-hattery of TLR or Chris Carpenter through the years. But, it is not exactly as you say. Stating that one or two people are complaining/bitching/whatever is one thing. What BP did was call the entire team “whiny bitches”, then come out the next day and thump Yadi’s shin guards like they were tight, which Yadi clearly took exception to. The escalation from there was clearly the fault of BOTH teams, however, you did not see any Cardinals players kicking Reds players in the head.

        Second, I would ask to whom you’re comparing LaRue. Most starting catchers (not named Y. Molina, Posey, Mauer) don’t hit very well. I haven’t looked at the numbers (I will later if I can), but I think he was still hitting over .220 when StL picked him up…(but perhaps I am wrong). At any rate, I certainly would call LaRue a good backup catcher, comparatively to what you could get on the market, and he was also a good veteran to have in the clubhouse.

  21. natstowngreg - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Experiences with Cards fans:

    September 1992. My job had me spending a few days in St. Louis. The Cards, just eliminated from the playoffs, played an unscheduled, meaningless doubleheader vs. the Expos on a damp, chilly night. Busch Stadium was in its artificial turf, pre-renovation mode, with football lines on the field. For all that, the attendance was 19,000. The guy sitting next to me came up from Oklahoma. I was most impressed.

    Fast forward 17-18 years. Sitting down the RF line at Nats Park, in front of a drunk Cards fan who spent the game (when not drinking) heaping abuse on Tony LaRussa, who was visible from the visitors’ 3B dugout. Definitely not impressed.

    Indeed, in close to 200 Nats games attended, I’ve heard one visiting manager booed by the visitors’ fans. Tony LaRussa. Though, on the whole, I’d say Cards fans at Nats Park aren’t particularly obnoxious.

  22. carbydrash - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    I think it’s mostly the fact that the Cardinals are a small market team, (the population of St. Louis is only 318,000) who have always drawn extremely well. Even in the lean years of the late 80s/early 90s they always ranked in the top half in attendance.

    Now, is this because they are awesome fans, or because St. Louis is a stinking hell hole and there is literally nothing else to do? You’re nightly entertainment options are 1). Go to the ballgame or 2). Make some meth. Literally, there is nothing else to do there or in the surrounding area. I mean, for Christ sakes, their landmark is a big Arch. It does nothing else…they literally just spent millions of dollars so some people could glance at it and say “Boy, that sure is a big arch!”.

    In summary, I love the Cardinals and haaaaate St. Louis.

  23. bkertz - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    I hate the BFiB moniker. Every fanbase has its collection of trolls, idiots, and general people who think they are superior. This has generally been fueled by the media and organization with some fans clearly buying into it. But who cares? Personally, as a Cardinals fan, I could care less if I am part of the best or worst fanbase. It doesn’t matter. Period.

    • gostlcards5 - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      I agree with everything except the last statement, there is a SMALL innate feeling of satisfaction to know that some people refer to you (as a fan base) as the best rather than the worst. (Although less of that when it is Cardinals fans themselves.)

  24. xmatt0926x - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    I wouldn’t deny the overall feeling of “contentment” that St. Louis fans seem to have with their teams over the years, but I also wonder how that’s been molded over the years by the franchise being such a well run and winning franchise as well. The Cardinals never seem to have too long of a run of futility and they always seem to be in the thick of contention, at least for the division. I’m not saying they’d be monsters if that wasn’t the case but it’s also easier to be a positive, patient, and overall content fan of such a good franchise, even during the off years thrown in here and there where they have no chance of contention. If they had a 20 year run of futility like the Pirates where you know the owner is pocketing revenue sharing money and they never make any moves to contend, would the St. Louis fans still be so quick to be supportive? Who knows.

  25. perryt200 - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    that was 7 months ago published in Denver.

    that was June of last year.

    but, i would go out on a limb and ask the players who the best fans are. someone get Lance Berkman on the phone and ask him. well, wait a year till he is done with the Rangers so he doesn’t tick them off.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. B. Crawford (2991)
  2. G. Stanton (2696)
  3. C. Correa (2691)
  4. Y. Puig (2627)
  5. G. Springer (2585)
  1. H. Pence (2452)
  2. H. Ramirez (2331)
  3. M. Teixeira (2280)
  4. J. Hamilton (2274)
  5. J. Baez (2170)