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Last October, as the rising possibility of a Subway Series became more real, fans from all over the country outside the New York City metropolitan regions posted a variation of the following joke on many baseball web sites...

"Five baseball fans climbed a tall mountain to prove their loyalty to their respective teams. When these climbers reached the summit a fan of the Braves shouted, " This is for Atlanta !", and proceeded to leap off into space. Another fan, not wishing to be outdone yelled, " This is for the Indians !" and jumped off the mountain. Then the Expos and Blue Jays fans rushed forward and screamed, " This is for baseball fans everywhere !" as they shoved the Yankees fan to his doom.

Often other teams were substituted for the fans however no one but Yankees or Mets enthusiasts were forced to make the final plunge.

The New York faithful can take it as they are so often the brunt of these type of jokes.

However, as this new 2001 season gets underway they would like to give something back to all those of us who are non-New York ( wave-loving, chop-happy, arrive-late-and-leave-early, hop-on-the-bandwagon-jumpers ) followers of this grand game of baseball.

They feel it is past time that we all learned a few things about real rooting from the smartest, most sophisticated supporters on this planet. Here then we offer ...

The New York Baseball Fans' Code of Excellence ... We do not boo our own players ... especially during slumps, divorces or the dog days of August.. for any infraction except lack of hustle. We do not interfere with the play of our own players, but wil help to steal a victory by any legal means at our disposal.

We do not paint our faces ( unless we are under the age of 12 ). We do not retain the nicknames of our heroes ... Moose, Duke, Say Hey, Scooter, Sparky, the Barber ... beyond the age of ( and here we are allowed a little more leeway 35.

We pull for all members of our team, yet we express only the most perfunctory cheers /applause for any player known to be an abusive jerk.

We do not, under any circumstances, refer to ourselves as "the 10th man."

We do not favour the use of foam props of any kind, including fingers, cowboy
hats, cheese wedges and above all, tomahawks.

We proofread all banners and signs before they reach the ballpark.

We encourage all fans under the age of 14 to bring a baseball glove or mitt to the ballpark.

We do not carry our own gloves or mitts to the ballpark ( if we're over 14 ) unless the temperature falls below freezing.

At least once in our lives, we take a child to his or her first baseball game.

We don the hats of our team ... even turning them around or inside out at relevant junctures during a game ... though we never, ever ( unless, again, we have yet to reach puberty ) wear a man's replica jersey. We keep our shirt and shoes on throughout the entire game.

We cheer for any injured player when he is carried from the field on a stretcher. We know the intracacies of the art of keeping score but are not fanatical about it. We never knock over a child to get to a foul ball although all adults are fair game.

We do not travel down from the nosebleed section during a sold-out game and start asking everyone , "Is that seat taken ?" We do not perform the wave, the chop or any other chant that originated in a football stadium.

We do not carry a butterfly net or lacrosse stick at any time or age.

Right ! Sure ! You betcha ! That's the Ticket.

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