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That Good Ol' Timmermann Family
2005-05-14 22:02
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

I know this is an old topic and not a very timely one, but I can't resist highlighting this excerpt from my ex-Daily News teammate Tom Timmermann - brother of you-know-whom - of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

On a radio show recently, I heard a local sportscaster who will remain nameless (OK, it was Doug Vaughn) asked, "What city has the worst sports fans?" His reply: "Dodgers' fans are notorious for leaving early." You'd think they were trying to get a head start on setting fire to orphanages.

Vaughn is certainly not the first person to say this and he certainly won't be the last, though if we could arrange that, I'd be all in favor. For anyone who thinks Dodgers fans are less than great because they leave early, try standing on the pedestrian bridge at Busch Stadium in the seventh inning some night and tell me who's leaving early. During the ninth inning of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series with the Astros last year, I could see Cardinals fans (or Astros fans cleverly disguised as Cardinals fans) heading to the garage.

People think Dodgers fans leave exceptionally early because from the press box you can see the parking lot and it's easy to see the red tail lights of hundreds of cars heading for the freeways. But here's something I've discovered in a lifetime of attending sporting events around the nation: Fans leave early. It's what they do. Yes, Dodgers fans leave early. So do Cardinals fans, and in fairly equivalent numbers. On Thursday afternoon at Busch, fans were leaving in good numbers at a little before 3 p.m., apparently needing to pick the kids up at school. There's always something. ...

Fans leave games for all sorts of reasons. They have a long drive home. It's a school night. It's cold. They're bored. The game is one-sided. They hate to sit in traffic. They don't want to pay the babysitter an extra $8. They're racing home to watch Doug Vaughn. Is leaving the ballpark early that different from turning off the TV and going to bed before the final out?

Prelude to this: Dodger Thoughts, May 4, 2003 - "We Show Up"

Fans leave early everywhere. No city is immune from it - they're just all immune from the jokes. For example, just a week ago, Minnesota Timberwolves fans poured out of their arena throughout the fourth quarter of their loss to the Lakers in Game 5 of their first-round NBA playoff. No one made fun of those fans. But the fact that they did this in a playoff game, in the biggest game in the team's history, in a sport where big comebacks happen as frequently as cell phones ringing in movie theaters, indicates to me that they must not be above taking an early departure in other situations.

I'm not trying to single out Minneapolis - it happens everywhere.

Second of all, does any group of fans come out to see their team like Dodger fans? Even though the team hasn't won a playoff game in 14 1/2 years, their worst year of attendance has been 2.3 million - in the 1994 strike season. In every year since the Dodgers' last playoff appearance in 1996, attendance has remained above 3 million.

Yes, there is a big metropolis around Dodger Stadium. But that cuts both ways. You can't discount the 40,000 people that show up on average for every game, and then harp on the number that leave - even if that number were 50 percent (which it isn't). How many teams have 20,000 fans that stay from beginning to end?

Comments
2005-05-14 23:41:57
1.   Bob Timmermann
I can picture a mob carrying torches and pitchforks marching on my brother's home right now.

He will be pelted with frozen custard and toasted raviolis.

2005-05-15 05:55:38
2.   MSarg29
That was a courageous column your brother wrote. Very insightful and fair.

My brother is also a sportswriter. He writes for the Home News Tribune in Central New Jersey. His covers Rutgers basketball and football. I'm proud of the fact that even though he writes for a relatively small newspaper, he has a vote in the NCAA college basketball AP top 25. His stuff often runs in other Gannett papers in the NY/NJ area.

He has covered some Yankee games and the Jets draft as well this year.

2005-05-15 10:23:43
3.   Bob Timmermann
My brother votes for the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame.

People are always complaining about who does or doesn't get into Oneonta.

2005-05-17 11:11:18
4.   ElysianPark62
I am reminded of something a Boston Globe writer penned a few years ago. He claimed that "thousands of tail lights" could be seen leaving Dodger Stadium as Gibson hit his legendary HR.

In reality, if you go back and look at video clips, there is no pile-up of cars waiting to leave. No traffic jam whatsoever. There are few enough to count fairly easily.

His comment shows you that people's perceptions can skew recollections of things that supposedly happened even decades ago. He believed Dodger fans leave early, therefore thousands had left that game. But they didn't! Nothing like reconstructing history based on your biases.

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