I am not a bandwagon fan. And I hate it when someone, joking or not, refers to me as such. I’ve been called much worse in life, but “bandwagon fan” hurts more than others for some reason. Probably because I take sports so serious. Say what you want about my mom or what have you, but I’ll be damned if you attack my devotion to my team.
I’m sure many of you have heard the same thing, “So, how long have you been an Angels fan, since '02?” Ha ha, haven’t heard that one before buddy... Eff You! And so it goes. For the last several years, this one especially, I’ve heard that comment or one like it. Just because our Angels are kicking ass this year doesn’t mean I wasn’t a fan when they weren’t.
I moved to California when I was 10 years old, back in 1985. I had lived most of my life in southern Ohio before that (father was Air Force, so there was a place or two in between). As a Little League-playing 4th grader, I was all into baseball. Except back in those days I didn’t get to watch baseball everyday. The only teams I ever got to see play live were the Cincinnati Reds. Couple that with my dad’s favorite team, the Phillies, and those were the only 2 teams I ever followed. From time to time I’d watch the Cubs or Braves play, thanks to WGN and TBS. Other than that, I never saw any teams play on t.v. or in person. So when my family moved to California I was finally introduced to the American League.
I knew very little about the American League, other than the teams I got to see in the playoffs. Sure, I was a Royal in Little League, but I couldn’t tell you one person on their team other than George Brett. So when I finally got to go see an American League game played out here, the California Angels were the coolest thing ever. DH’s were new and exciting to me. And I first got my taste of the Yankees that night. But even though the Angels lost that night (and were nearly no-hit), I was an instant fan.
I was Brian Downing, Doug DeCinces, Wally Joyner, or Mike Witt when I played with my buddies out in our own ‘sandlot’. I remember watching Devon White’s first game and seeing him slam face first into the outfield wall. I remember the canyon-of-a-stadium we used to play in (the one good result of the Northridge quake). I remember watching Nolan Ryan’s last game in Anaheim (as a member of the Rangers) and consequently seeing his last strikeout ever. I never saw him as an Angel, but I’m a student of the game and I embraced the team’s past.
I still remember where I was when Donnie Moore gave up the infamous homerun to Dave Henderson. My grandmother was out visiting and I was listening to the game on the radio in the back of an ’85 Honda Civic somewhere in Beverly Hills. The rest of the family was busy reading Maps to the Stars homes while I sat there cursing (not out loud of course, I was with grandma) the god-dang Red Sox (what kind of name is Oil Can anyway?).
I remember 1995 like it was yesterday. Screw Randy Johnson, Griffey, Edgar, and the rest. I remember cringing when we hit the 11-games-up mark this season.
I remember (vaguely) spending the first half of my bachelor party watching the Freeway Series in July of 1999. My apologies to Shigetoshi Hasegawa, and any other Japanese fans sitting in my section that day, that was the beer talking.
And with the bad comes the good. I remember where I was during Kennedy’s 3 homerun game. I remember taking out the Twins in 5. I also remember switching my seat repeatedly during game 6 of the World Series. It’s some crazy superstition my father and I have that when our team needs a ‘kick in the pants’ we have to change seats. Well, throughout game 6 I’d worn out every seat in the living room, kicking any guest we had had over that night out of their chairs left and right. That’s when I found ‘the spot’. Our fireplace has a large enough hearth on it to be sat upon. And that’s where I sat for the magical 7th inning. Needless to say, I watched all of Game 7 from the cold, hard bricks in front of the fireplace (yeah, I was the reason the Angels won, thank me later).
Yet, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here. That’s why I come to Halos Heaven. I want to hang out with the true fans. Yeah, some are older than others, some fans are newer than others, but the single fact that you’re here, and have read this long-ass post of mine (thanks, by the way) proves your devotion to our beloved Angels. We may not have the history of other teams in baseball, but that doesn’t make us bandwagon fans. Not us.
Yes, there are many of 'those' fans out there, and I welcome them because there’s nothing I like seeing more than a sea of red inside Angels Stadium. For every fair-weather fan, there are hundreds of true ones like us.
But you’ve gotta take the good with the bad. Trust me, I know… I’m also a Bengals fan.