Published in Contra Costa Times, West County Times, Valley Times, May 21, 2005
Hereâ€™s my dirty little secret: I am a bicoastal baseball fan. I root for both the Giants and the Athletics, who play on opposite coasts of San Francisco Bay. This duality is heresy for many baseball fans, who call me a â€œbad fanâ€ and consider sports loyalty an absolute, one-sided affair, even in a two-team market.
But how glorious to have two clubs to follow! When one wallows in mediocrity, the other is often a contender. One of my teams plays at home every day. If the other is on the East Coast, their starting times are staggered, and I can listen to or watch two games a day â€“ an embarrassment of riches, for sure.
I first contracted this affliction shortly after the playersâ€™ strike of 1981. After filming an interview with manager Billy Martin in the Aâ€™s locker room, my producer and I slipped into the lower deck stands of the Coliseum behind first base. My professional film camera was our only ticket.
It was a brilliant afternoon, and I reveled in the sudden accessibility of the game I had loved from afar as a youth. The next night I dragged my wife to a game and started to follow the Aâ€™s on a daily basis. But at that time we lived in San Francisco, a few minutes from Candlestick Park, and I often slipped out to watch the Giants too.
Duality did not always afflict me. I grew up in the New York area, for a half century the only three-team market in baseball history. As a kid in Brooklyn and Long Island, I was the only fan in my family, and I followed the Dodgers of Snider, Campanella, and Reese, intrigued by their nicknames â€“ Duke, Campy, and PeeWee. Then one fateful day those infamous Bums of Brooklyn rocked my world by announcing their move to California, along with the Giants (a team I knew or cared little about, though my ten-year-old mind was dimly aware they had a player named Mays who was pretty good).