When does fandom become obsession?
Is it aback you can recite Dwight Howard’s career bests in every statistical class from anamnesis … yet haven’t memorized your Social Security number?
Is it aback you appear both ends of a day-night doubleheader … afresh go home to watch the replay?
Is it aback you abrasion a hockey sweater to a bells … your own wedding?
Or is it aback you’ve visited every Arctic American sports breadth in the four above sports and accumulate activity aback for more?
Most admirers apperceive breadth to draw the band amid the sports apple and the absolute world. They accept added interests that attempt for their additional time. They adore watching a bold on television as abundant as activity to the stadium.
A few of us aren’t like that. Advantageous balance? No, acknowledge you.
We accept to be there.
We don’t affliction if it’s a stunningly awkward bold amid the Bears and Panthers. We don’t affliction if Todd Collins throws four interceptions bushing in for the concussed Jay Cutler, while Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen amalgamate for three picks on the added ancillary of the ball. We don’t affliction if the best advantageous quarterback in the amphitheater is above Oklahoma Accompaniment and Texas Southern signal-caller Bobby Reid, who’s built-in abutting to us in Section 120.
We don’t care, because the Bears are the aftermost aggregation amid the 122 franchises in the four above sports we had yet to see in person.
We accumulate clue of actuality like that. Because we are the few, the proud, the affected — the superfans.
O’Reilly runs the scoreboard for Seton Hall men’s basketball and occasionally runs the alarm for the New Jersey Nets.
But baseball is his passion. He’s abounding about 1,200 able baseball amateur in added than 350 ballparks. He works in Hoboken, N.J., beneath than 1,000 anxiety from the abode breadth the aboriginal baseball bold is anticipation to accept been contested. He completed the MLB ballparks aeon in 1997, three years afterwards the players bang batty him.
“I would’ve done it in ’94 except I got addled out,” O’Reilly said. “Instead of a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday with Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Diego, I anguish up with Lake Elsinore, Rancho Cucamonga and Riverside.”
He catholic three times to Elizabethton, Tenn., afore he could analysis the Appalachian Alliance esplanade there off his list. The aboriginal time was a rainout. The additional time was beneath bright skies — but the arena was blood-soaked from a antecedent storm and advised unplayable. Undeterred, he collection 10 afar to Johnson City, Tenn., and saw a 12-inning bold afterwards volunteering to sing the civic canticle aback aggregation didn’t accept anyone else.
He acutely knew the words.
“I appetite to see amateur in as abounding parks as accessible all over the country, and who knows, maybe anytime about the world. The abstraction of seeing all these amateur is absolutely a byproduct of absent to see all the ballparks.”
O’Reilly said activity to amateur never gets old for him “because you never apperceive what you’re activity to see at the ballpark.” His best memorable day as a fan came on Sept. 4, 1993, aback he was planning to appear a bold at Yankee Stadium, followed by a cruise to see an All-embracing Alliance bold at Scranton Wilkes-Barre that night.
Of course, it was raining.
So he sat in his car in a parking lot in Fort Lee, N.J., not far from the bottom of the George Washington Bridge, alert to the radio and aggravating to adjudge what to do. Yankees anchorperson John Sterling ultimately fabricated the alarm for him, allegorical admirers that the tarp was actuality removed and bold would alpha on time.
It angry out to be the best accommodation he’s anytime fabricated as a fan, as he saw Jim Abbott bandy a no-hitter adjoin the Indians. It’s the alone above alliance no-hitter he’s apparent in person.
Andrew Kulyk and Peter Farrell
These accompany from the Buffalo breadth anniversary appear about 100 pro sports amateur per year and agilely abutment their hometown Sabres, Bills and accessory alliance Bisons baseball club.
They’ve accustomed all-embracing media absorption for commutual what they dubbed as the Ultimate Sports Alley Cruise — accessory a home bold of anniversary of the 122 franchises in the four above sports. Aback a aggregation relocates or opens a new venue, they appointment as anon as accessible to accumulate their accreditation intact.
The best memorable bold they abounding was, abominably for them, a adverse playoff accident by the Bills on Jan. 8, 2000, in Tennessee.
“It was what we alarm the Illegal Forward Lateral but everybody abroad seems to alarm the Music City Miracle,” Kulyk said. “Of course, the [replay] went ‘zip’ appropriate bottomward [off the scoreboard], like Ceausescu axis off the accompaniment television during the revolution.
“Nashville is a abundant abode to appointment … but we aloof capital to get the hell out of there.”
Kulyk and Farrell catholic to England to watch the 49ers comedy the Broncos in 2010 and ashore about to appear Premier Alliance games, breadth they were absorbed to see visiting admirers built-in calm in specific sections for assurance and acknowledged activity in amphitheater concourses.
Back in October, they catholic to Europe to watch the Sabres. Afterwards seeing the division opener in Finland, they followed the aggregation to Germany, breadth they additionally accomplished a aftertaste of the Bundesliga.
Of course, abundant belief appear with that abundant travel.
On April 9, 2000, Kulyk and Farrell headed arctic to see the Bisons comedy a day bold in Ottawa, with affairs to watch the NHL’s Senators that night. Along the drive, they accomplished that the Bisons bold wasn’t acceptable to be played because of temperatures in the 30s. So they absitively to detour about 150 afar to see the Montreal Expos comedy a 1 p.m. bold central at Olympic Stadium.
“One problem: We didn’t apprehend at the time we would accept to drive through a angry two-foot blast to get there,” Farrell said. “You apperceive how it is aback you’re active in that acclimate — white-knuckle driving, cars all over the ancillary of the alley and you’re active 30 mph bottomward the expressway?”
After accession about an hour late, they got to see bisected the game. Afresh it was off to Ottawa.
“Same blast driving,” Farrell said. “I vividly bethink aggravating to get off at an avenue to get to Ottawa, and the alone way we knew that we were on the alley was the actuality that there were lightposts on the ancillary of the alley arch you from one artery to the other. We would’ve never alike accepted breadth the alley was. … About 20 afar alfresco of Ottawa, the acclimate assuredly broke, and we got to the Corel Centre in time for the additional period.”
Hague visited every MLB amphitheater afore he was 25.
Hague went to lots of amateur with his ancestors as a kid, ultimately biking about the country with his ancestor from their home abject in Pittsburgh over a 10-year period. He dabbled in sports photography and eventually angry it into a career. These days, he has division tickets to the Steelers and fractional affairs for the Penguins and Pirates. Hague enjoys conversing with added admirers on the road, and abreast from Pittsburgh, he chooses Chicago as the best sports boondocks in America.
He went to Super Basin XLIII in Tampa, Fla., to watch the Steelers exhausted the Cardinals, and he saw the Penguins exhausted the Red Wings in Bold 3 of the 2009 Stanley Cup finals. He was in San Diego to see Barry Bonds hit career home run No. 755, attached Hank Aaron aloft the best list, on Aug. 4, 2007. But none of those qualifies as his admired sports moment.
“It’s Opening Day every year for the Pirates, because the Pirates are my admired aggregation – alike admitting a lot of bodies acquisition that adamantine to believe,” said the 27-year-old Hague. “You bigger accept the day the Pirates accomplish the playoffs, I’ll be the happiest guy in Pittsburgh.”
Hague needs to appointment Target Field in Minneapolis and the sparkling new Marlins Esplanade in Miami to already afresh complete his checklist. Get to work!
Ables is an octogenarian, but his affection never larboard college.
He’s a biased adherent of the football aggregation at his alma mater, San Diego State, dating to his canicule as a biographer at the academy bi-weekly in the 1940s. He’s abounding 718 Aztecs football amateur — home and road, of advance — including the accomplished 548. He’s additionally witnessed added than 1,000 San Diego Accompaniment basketball games.
“I aloof appear to be an old-fashioned, acceptable loyalist,” Ables said. “I amount they’re my aggregation win or lose, but I’m there to try and abutment them. I abhorrence to lose … but you don’t aback abroad aloof because they lose. It ability be banal to say, but if you break through the bad [seasons], afresh the acceptable ones are all the better.”
Former Aztecs drillmaster Brady Hoke asked Ables to allege to the aggregation afterwards a December convenance two seasons ago, and the Aztecs after won their aboriginal basin bold aback 1969.
“A lot of bodies ask, ‘What does your ancestors think?’” Ables said. “It’s consistently been a ancestors deal. My wife has gone to [440 games] and still goes to all the home games. My son [Ken] has been to [348 games].”
Ables has catholic as far as Japan to basis for the Aztecs, accepting abounding a bold adjoin Air Force billed as the 1981 Mirage Basin in Tokyo.
“It was absolutely fun, because the bold was played in Olympic Stadium,” Ables said. “One of our players was called to run up and ablaze the torch. They had about 80,000 people, and they didn’t accept a clue about football. So they had Japanese cheerleaders who told [fans] aback to cheer.”
Setterberg’s sports loyalties are advance all beyond the country.
He grew up in Arizona, breadth he acclimated to appear Phoenix Firebirds accessory alliance baseball amateur and Phoenix Roadrunners accessory alliance hockey amateur — afore the breadth became home to MLB and the NHL.
But his ancestors is from Minnesota, which agency he was aloft to adulation the Vikings, the Twins and, especially, hockey.
“Hockey is my admired sport,” Setterberg said. “Once I saw it live, that was it for me. I capital to go to as abounding amateur as I could.”
He and his ancestors had division tickets to the Coyotes for 12 years, and he served as a amulet for the now-defunct Phoenix Cobras roller hockey team.
Setterberg counts the 1994 Apple Cup final, in which Brazil exhausted Italy on amends bliss at the Rose Bowl, and the Hockey Apple Cup in Toronto in 2004 as his admired sports moments.
“Being a big hockey fan, I’ve consistently had a abstruse adulation for Canada,” Setterberg said. “I got to put on a Aggregation Canada sweater and be Canadian for a night.”
He will additionally consistently bethink activity Minnesota and seeing the Vikings exhausted the Chargers in 2007, aback Adrian Peterson set an NFL almanac with 296 hasty yards.
“We absolutely backward in the aforementioned auberge as the Chargers team, and we rode the elevator bottomward with [then-defensive coordinator] Ron Rivera afore the game,” Setterberg said. “We absolutely didn’t accept aerial hopes for the game, so we told him to booty it accessible on us.”
Setterberg now lives in New Jersey, breadth he has division tickets to the New York Red Bulls of MLS.
Michael Casiano and Gary Herman
Finally, we appear to the absolute ability of superfans.
The two New Yorkers authority division tickets to best of the teams in the New York-New Jersey area. Accessory two amateur in a day isn’t uncommon, and they barter their tickets aback bold schedules conflict.
Herman estimates he’s apparent added than 7,000 pro and academy antic events. Casiano pegs his amount at about 12,000, tallying hundreds of amateur per year aback to the 1970s.
The numbers are staggering, but they accept bold logs and scorebooks to bolster their claims. They try to see amid 350 and 400 amateur per year, primarily in the Northeast, and accept no ambition of slowing down.
“My ambition aback in the aboriginal 1980s was to see how abounding venues in anniversary activity as possible,” Herman said. “I capital to get to the best ones first. Afresh in 1985, I met [Casiano] as able-bodied as a cardinal of added sports junkies who catholic all over to see alive antic events. … I’ve accomplished my ambition and afresh some. Already I assuredly got to all the venues in the four above sports, the leagues broadcast and new venues replaced the earlier ones. So it gave me acumen to see abounding places and new venues.”
Casiano said he never gets apathetic of biking or activity to games, and he’s altogether agreeable to booty in the activity from the high deck. “I’d be priced out if I capital to sit in a acceptable seat,” he said. “That’s for sure.”
Casiano’s admired venue, accomplished or present, is Wrigley Field, with Camden Yards additionally baronial awful on his list.
“I adulation Camden Yards. Aboriginal bold anytime there, I couldn’t get a ticket. So I climbed over a fence,” Casiano said. “Since 1990, that is the alone bold I don’t accept a admission butt for.”
Casiano and Herman point to Amateur 6 and 7 of the 1986 Apple Series, aback the Mets enjoyed a improvement for the ages adjoin the Red Sox, as the best memorable amateur they accept attended.
To Herman, there are inherent advantages to adequate sports in actuality instead of on television or radio.
“I can draw my own assessment of what I’m watching as to alert to an anchorperson who’s activity to acquaint me what he wants me to believe, abnormally on the radio,” Herman said. “Another acumen is there’s consistently the abeyant to see history. If I break home and article appropriate happens on that accurate day or night, I would accept a adamantine time active with myself.”
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