Tuesday, November 11, 2014


"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is."
- Bob Feller

I love this quote and it says how I feel about the game.  Imagine for a minute that you could move a surface level fan to feel the same way as you about the game and feel the emotion behind this quote.  That imagination became real for me when I taught my best friend baseball.

There are a number of Yankee fans out there that love the boys of summer but don't have a clue about how they play the game.  These are the fans that come out for the games on the best of days- sunny, bright, perfect weather games.  These are the fans that wear glittery NY shirts and trendy number 2 tees.  These are the fans that don't know what ERA means, or E6 or why August 2, 1979, was day to remember in Yankee history.

Well, my best friend was never that person, but she will certainly admit that she has learned a lot more about baseball through watching the game with me and reading Bleeding Yankee Blue.  How do you teach someone baseball, not to be a player but to be an educated spectator? There are three easy steps to teaching the game of baseball to an adult fan and many of you probably already know this, but what the heck, here we go!

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn,"

-- Benjamin Franklin

Number 1.  Give a clear overview of the positions. Baseball fans need to know the names of the positions, the key tasks of these positions and their number on the diamond.  When you explain centerfield, tell the fan how important speed is, calling the ball, hitting the cut off, hustle and diving for the ball at all costs and of course that centerfield is the #8 position on the field.  I found that once my friend understood the positions of the players on the field, she was able to follow the game better, pointing out great catches, not just because they are dramatic (rookie move) but because she realized how difficult it is to play positions well, she understood the magnitude of the defensive play.

Number 2.  Teach the fan how to keep score.  Now that the baseball learners know the positions and how they are played, they can keep score.  And when they can keep score,  they learn more about balls and strikes, batting averages, on base percentages, ERAs, RBIs and E6s.  When you watch a game on television, the announcers do a lot of the score keeping for you, but you can ask questions of fans with you framed around the language of the game, much like my friend did to better understand the game.  We talked about the set up guys in the bull pen, their ERA and their role in the game.  We talked about pulling the ball, the shift and infield hits.  She soaked it all in, like a sponge and really understands the game better through the lens of keeping score.

Number 3.  Discuss the strategies of pitchers, hitters and managers.  Lastly, once your adult fan knows steps 1 and 2, he or she is ready for harder stuff, like game strategies that enable your team to win.  Here we looked more closely at first pitch strikes, small ball and playing the percentages.  You see the rookie fans with glitter on their caps think the home run is the end all be all, but if you talk to my expert best friend, she will tell you how much she appreciates bloopers up the middle, bunts and little flares to right.  She appreciates speed on the base paths, catchers with quick hands and pitchers who have an amazing change up.  The rookie fan is all about the long ball, fast ball and catchers that pack the punch, but not my protege, she loves it when a guy makes contact and has a good at bat.

It's been a great couple of years, teaching my best friend more about the game of baseball and how to appreciate the base hit, the 9th batter, the lead off batter, the center fielder, the first baseman and the set up man.  If you ever get a chance to teach an adult fan something, you will find it self-fulfilling for much like a teacher who moves his or her class toward success and Aha moments, teaching my best friend baseball was better than a walk off win at the stadium- Gatorade and all.

--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
Twitter: @suzieprof

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