There’s nothing like a little time at the old ballpark. Some fans make it to dozens of games per season, while others aren’t quite so fortunate. With the rising cost of baseball tickets going up faster than the average wages of the American middle class, it’s become harder and harder for fans to attend more than a couple games per season. With that in mind, we look at the average ballpark behavior and came up with a helpful list to create a better environment for all fans. Here are the 10 things you should never do at a baseball game.
10. Don’t act like a jerk
We’ve all been to a sporting event and sat near someone who was acting like a jerk. The classic behavior is being loud, yelling at the players, standing up in front of people and obstructing their view, and dropping some naughty words. Let’s be clear: Baseball games are family events. The price of admission for most ballparks is absurd, considering the declining wages of the middle class in America. To bring a family of four to a baseball game costs anywhere from $150 to $400, depending on many factors.
The point is, people spend their hard-earned money to have a good time. Don’t be the jerk who ruins the fun. Sit in your seat, cheer at the appropriate times, keep your voice at a reasonable level, and if you absolutely have to heckle an opposing player, try to keep it PG.
9. Don’t do the wave
There is some debate about where “The Wave” actually started, but nobody argues the fact that it started showing up in Major League Baseball stadiums at some point in the ’80s. The idea is that everyone at a stadium (or at least as many people as possible) stand up, wave their arms in the air, and then sit back down. Not all at the same time, mind you, but right after the person next to you stood up. This creates what appears to look like a massive wave in the stands. Here’s an example of the wave happening during a St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.
But you should not do the wave. The wave is bad. There’s even a website dedicated to how bad the wave is. Baseball games are for enjoying and paying attention to baseball, not acting like a fool. This goes extra hard for people who do the wave but can’t even get the rhythm down.
8. Don’t drink too much beer
We’ve all been there, right? You go to a sporting event and realize, hey, they sell alcoholic beverages at this shindig. I should drink 10, no, 20 beers! Bad idea, hombre. There’s nothing wrong with having a few cold refreshments at a baseball game. In fact, it’s the American way. But getting drunk can cause several serious problems beyond just the fact that it’s not good for you.
First, we’ll redirect you to the “Don’t act like a jerk” commandment. If you get drunk at a baseball game, you’re certain to begin acting like a jerk whether you know it or not. But most importantly, think of those around you. When you’re drunk, you’re much more likely to spill something, drop something, or … let’s say, regurgitate something … on those around you. Nobody wants this. Know your limit and don’t cross that line.
7. Don’t fight over a baseball
Baseball makes us feel like kids again, but don’t forget that you’re actually an adult. If a foul ball — or even better, a home run ball — gets hit into your general vicinity, feel free to stand up and try to snag it (beware the hard line drives, though, lest you break a hand). But where you cross the line: fighting over a baseball. If a ball ricochet’s off a chair, hits you in the gut, and slips through your arms into someone else’s hands, that’s their ball. If that person chooses to allow you to have it, thank them cordially. But do not fight over a baseball.
It should go without saying, but this applies even more for attempting to steal a ball from a child. Don’t do it. And if you do, prepare to be called out for the scumbag that you are. Brownie points for those of you who catch a free souvenir but offer it up to the nearest child. You are the greatest among us.
6. Don’t bring a glove to the game
No one at a baseball game draws side-glances quicker than the adult who is wearing a baseball glove. It’s understandable that some confusion might be at play, so let’s break it down.
Baseball is a game for children. By and large, the people you’re there to watch are all adults, so why not also be an adult wearing a baseball glove, right? Wrong. Those people are paid (handsomely) to play the game professionally, and you are not. You’re an accountant or something. There are right and wrong times to have a baseball glove on your hand. Playing catch with your child? Right time. Going to a baseball game with the hopes of snagging a foul ball? Wrong time.
Kids, bring your glove to the park. Wear your Little League uniform, too. But if you’re shaving, paying your own bills, or have ever had a conversation about the stock market, it’s time to leave the glove at home.
5. Don’t run onto the field
Does this one even need to be said? It doesn’t matter the sport, every single year a handful of idiots run onto the field during a game. Most of the time, the person has had too much to drink and is just being a jerk (hey, we see a trend here). They run around like morons until eventually they’re tackled by a police officer — or worse, given the taser treatment.
But there have been more grim instances of fans running onto the field, including the time a father and son duo at a Chicago White Sox game decided to attack Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa. Fans who run onto the field commit a criminal act, which comes with varying levels of punishment depending on the local laws. The point is, you’re voluntarily signing up to be tackled to the ground, possibly hit with a taser, and then sent to have a day in court. It’s not worth it.
4. Don’t propose to your significant other
A lot of romanticism surrounds baseball. It’s the national pastime. Our grandparents watched the game, which has remained (relatively) unchanged since their time in comparison to other sports. We think of the game as pure. So in that vein, it’s understandable why someone might think it’s a good idea to propose to their significant other at a baseball game.
But it’s not a good idea. Ballpark proposals are the absolute worst. Not everyone at the game is interested in what’s going on in your life; the vast majority are there to watch baseball. If you absolutely must publicly display your love, find a place where people haven’t paid upwards of several hundred dollars to be there. And if you’re going to ignore this advice and do it anyway, then at least don’t lose the ring and try to be absolutely sure the answer will be yes.
3. Don’t take off your shirt
Again, this probably ties into the categories about drinking and acting like a jerk, but don’t take off your shirt at a baseball game. If it’s a hot day, we totally understand. You’re sitting in the bleachers and soaking up the sun. But guess what? Nobody wants to look at your sweaty body, and this goes for both men and women. Although you could argue that a woman wearing nothing but a bikini top on a warm day at the ballpark might be a welcome addition for a certain percentage of the fans, it’s still not the right move.
Dress appropriately for the weather. If it’s hot, wear light clothing and bring sunscreen. Put on a hat and wear sunglasses to shield your eyes, but don’t take off your clothes. No shirt, no shoes, no service.
2. Don’t reach for a ball that’s in play
Every baseball fan can think of at least one incident where a fan interfered with a ball in play. What many don’t know is that, generally, the rule of thumb in a ballpark is that any fan who interferes with a ball in play is quickly escorted out. You spent a lot of money to sit in that seat; why be forced to exit earlier than you intended just to try to snag a souvenir?
But, of course, messing with a live ball can involve worse consequences than just being removed from the ballpark. Steve Bartman reached out and knocked a foul ball away from Moises Alou in 2003, helping the Florida Marlins out in a big way. A young fan named Jeffrey Maier reached over the wall and grabbed what would be ruled a home run by Derek Jeter in 1996, dearly costing the Baltimore Orioles. Simply put, don’t reach for the ball.
1. Don’t leave early
Finally, do not leave the game early. Stay and enjoy the baseball. Even if your team is down by many runs and doesn’t appear to be coming back to win, give them your full support. The best case scenario is that you get home a few minutes early; the worst case scenario is that you end up missing an amazing comeback.
There are exceptions to this rule, of course, like fans with young children who need to leave early. But weird and amazing things happen in baseball games all the time, and missing a comeback, a big home run, a dazzling defensive play, or a position player going to the mound and throwing some 70 mph meatballs isn’t worth beating the traffic. You paid your money, so stick around and enjoy yourself.