These people walk among you

When we left Bill James, he was at Royals Stadium for Game 1 of the 1985 World Series, complaining about having paid $30 for a ticket. But then he realizes, “No one has a divine right to attend the event, and if you’re not willing to pay a good price for the tickets, you shouldn’t be there.” However…

All season, whenever Susie and I had gone into games we had been extremely fortunate as to the people seated around us; we made it through almost the entire season without being in earshot of an obnoxious drunk. On this memorable occasion, the law of averages caught up with us. We were seated three rows behind the last human being in the Western hemisphere that I would ever want to marry into my family; she is to this day known in our house only as That Dreadful Woman. That Dreadful Woman combined the virtues of a coquettish Southern Belle, the kind that during a Tennessee Williams play you always want to reach onstage and strangle to speed up the plot, with those of your ordinary garden-variety obnoxious drunken fan. She had a voice that would remind you of a clarinet with a broken reed, set to the volume of an airhorn, and I suppose that she had been a cheerleader two or three years ago, for she was determined to lead the section in cheers. She was a Cardinals fan, which was not the problem; in fact, the ingrained hospitality with which Midwesterners receive guests is probably all that kept her alive as the game progressed. Whenever anything happened…no, that’s not right…whether anything happened or not she would leap to her feet almost with every pitch and, turning around and gesturing with her arms as if tossing an invisible baby into the air, implore the section to screech along with her and give her some sort of reassurance about how cute she was. After about a half-inning of this, every time she got up she would, naturally, be greeted with a chorus of people yelling encouraging things like “Sit Down,” “Shut Up,” “Watch the Game,” “Lady, Pleeeese” and “Will you get your ass out of the way?” However, being apparently none too swift even when sober, she could not take in that it was not anyone in particular who was yelling these things, but everyone in the entire area taking turns. Having focused on someone who was abusing her, she would fasten onto the luckless soul — several, I am sure, will never go back to a baseball game as long as they live — and begin to whimper accusingly about how she didn’t mean to do any wrong and she was just trying to enjoy the game and didn’t they want to enjoy the game and didn’t Royals fans like to have fun and what had she done except cheer for her team and couldn’t they be friends? Eventually she would shake hands with whoever it was; this was, after all, the only way to get her to stop whining in your face. Then she would grab her camera and put her arm around her new friend and have her husband (or boyfriend, or whoever the poor bastard was) take a picture of the event.

She had other uses for the camera — for example, she would try on a funny hat, hand off the camera to a stranger and have him take a picture of her. She would do this, mind you, with the inning in progress.

The rest of the fans in the right field bleachers were not exactly a prize aggregation, either. There was an ABC crowd camera near us, and scattered around were several dozen children and nitwits whose attention was entirely focused on it. Whenever this camera panned near us they would leap to their feet and hold up banners, requiring the people sitting behind them, which was all of us except the front row, to jump up and down constantly in an attempt to follow the game. There were several beach balls bouncing around, enough that it took the baseball fans in the area two or three innings to capture each one and neutralize it with a pocket knife. It was easily the worst Kansas City baseball crowd that I’ve seen.

Also seated around us were a number of die-hard, life-long Cardinal fans who had driven over from St. Louis (five hour drive) to see the game. By the fifth inning, That Dreadful Woman had most of them discussing whether they should continue to support the Cardinals or perhaps should switch to the

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Royals. Several people offered to buy the Dreadful Woman a beer if she would just go stand in line to buy it. She took one guy up on his offer, apparently not understanding the purpose of it — she wasn’t easy to insult, this girl — and as she was leaving a guy about ten rows behind us shouted, ‘Remember where your seat is — section 342.” Needless to say, Section 342 was in an entirely different part of the ballpark, but it didn’t work. We enjoyed the game for a half-inning until she returned.

The next night, Bill James goes back for Game 2…

As Susie and I were walking down the aisle toward our seats the man in front of us yelled gleefully “I don’t think she’s here!” We broke out laughing; we were looking for the same thing. We had the same seats for all four games in Kansas City, if there were to be four games in Kansas City, and the thought of spending three more games trying to get HER to shut up had considerably dampened our enthusiasm for the event. We never saw her again, but it was easy to spot the people who had been in the

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same seats the day before. They were distinguished by the wary looks that they cast around until the offending seat was occupied.

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