in

Surviving As A Dodger Fan Outside of Southern California

Introducing the first installment of a sort of mini-series here at Dodgers Nation: Dodger Fandom Outside of Sunny Los Angeles.

I’ve lived in Tennessee since the summer of 2007. I was 22, and I had been living in northern California, Giants territory. Wearing a Dodger hat in northern California was akin to wearing a bullseye, but I still always felt like I was surrounded by a sense of baseball relevancy. I was in the hub, and in the conversation.

A Different Scene Entirely

Moving to Tennessee was a different story. I had never seen a UT flag before, and I had never quite grasped that the ‘bible bet’ could easily be referred to as the ‘SEC belt.’ I remember living in California, when the conversation steered to sports, we talked MLB, NBA, and NFL. That isn’t the case in many/most parts of the South. The nearest baseball team is in Georgia, and baseball isn’t as big as it is in many places, particularly California. Wearing a Dodger hat in Nashville made you stick out. I used to play music professionally, and for smaller gigs I always wore my Dodger hat. It made gave me a sense of identity in what seemed like a foreign land to me at times.

It’s been over 10 years, and this sensation hasn’t dwindled. I was driving home with my family just a few weeks ago when I saw this at a stop light.

I was being funny with the language, but I wasn’t exaggerating. Had I been able to catch up to this car in traffic, I would have 100% taken my hat off my head and made eye contact with the driver and smiled. Seeing a Dodger hat for me is rare, much less somebody who’s a big enough fan to put a license plate frame. Neil Peart once said, “I can’t pretend a stranger is a long awaited friend.” When that stranger is wearing or sporting Dodger gear, they are a long awaited friend to me.

The Clincher In Enemy Territory

In the last two postseasons, the Dodgers have played the following teams:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Houston Astros
  • Atlanta Braves
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Boston Red Sox

I didn’t write for Dodgers Nation in 2017, but I chronicled on my own blog my trip to game 5 of the NLCS. Obviously that was an amazing game as the Dodgers clinched their first world series appearance since 1988. I took video, photos, and mental notes that I’ll never forget. I found Dodger fans near the end of the game, and we went to the bars afterwards and toasted to each other as if we were family. We were Dodger family.

I may have not felt that way if I lived in LA. My family has season tickets, and I see their photos at games, particularly playoff games. I envy that camaraderie and I imagine Dodger fans who read this article that live outside of southern California may understand that feeling.

In the 2018 playoffs I went to game 5 in Atlanta for the NLDS. If you’re noting that I’ve gone to TWO playoff games in which the Dodgers clinched a series win–yes, you can call me ‘the clincher.’ I chronicled this experience here on Dodgers Nation.

How Does One ‘Dodger Fan’?

It occurs to me while writing this article, that Dodger fans can meet up in a public place and watch Dodger games during the MLB season. This is such a foreign concept to me. It’s a lonely experience. My editor (@realFRG, he’s a peach and a friend of his own podcast) asked where I watch Dodger games. I initially thought this was an absurd question. It only seemed absurd because I watch all my Dodger games at home. I pay for the MLB.TV package every year and watch the Dodgers in my living room or in my home office.

It’s often late, due to the time difference.

Justin Turner’s game 2 walk off home run in the 2017 NLCS remains my favorite Dodger moment I can recall. It was special for a different reason as my wife who normally would have been in bed, was watching that moment with me. I had to step outside to hoot and holler, as my daughter was asleep upstairs. For Max Muncy’s 18th inning walk off, I allowed myself to doze when Boston was batting, and figured if they scored, I’d turn it off for good. I was watching this WS game on my phone, on my nightstand. It was rather miraculous that I was awake for Max’s opposite field walk off home run, much less how miraculous it was that that game actually ended.

Go to the local bar to watch Dodger games? No. They’re not on here. You’d be much more likely to see bass fishing or televised local high school games. Occasionally if one ventures over to a Buffalo Wild Wings when the Dodgers are on National TV, you might catch a game. That’s about it.

A Proud Dodger Fan

All this to say, it’s a very lonely existence, being a Dodger fan here. When someone asks if I’m a true Dodger fan, they don’t realize how preposterous their question comes off to me. The last time I watched a Dodger game with anybody else was in Atlanta when my wife and daughter were with me. I’m a Dodger fan for no bigger reason than I love this team. 99% of Dodger games I watch during the season I watch alone, other than with my Dodgers Nation family, and my Dodger twitter family.

Final Thoughts

I started this piece in the morning, and in the middle of it I went to some classes. My first day back on a college campus and I saw a guy wearing a Dodgers jersey with a Dodger hat. He was aways away and walking quickly, so I didn’t say anything this time. There has to be a word for this experience better than serendipity. I start to write some thoughts on being a Dodger fan outside of California, and some guy is wearing a jersey and Dodger hat? What that word is–I can’t seem to divine. (Serendipitous)

It got me thinking about how in a small way, it’s nice to stick out like that. I’m the only one wearing Dodger gear in a room 99% of the time, and in some ways that appeals to our base human nature of standing out. Most the time though, it makes me miss being literally near Dodgers Nation.

[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/la-city-council-announces-1-22-19-justin-turner-day/2019/01/19/” type=”big” color=”red”] LA City Council Announces 1/22/19 “Justin Turner Day”[/button]

Written by AJ Gonzalez

AJ is a lifelong Dodgers fan who grew up in California. His whole family are also lifelong Dodgers fans. He lives in Tennessee with his wife, daughter, beagle, and strat.

Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. You are so right about Norcal, wearing anything Dodger here is dangerous, the very occasional person walking through a market with a Dodger hat on, thrills me, but I slowly walk up to the person and whisper “Love your Hat!” and carefully walk away, looking down with a big grin on my face….

  2. Hey A.J.
    I too live in Tennessee since 2005 and was born and raised in So Cal so missing going to Dodger games and In-in-Out are all apart of my life as well. Since moving here my whole family has moved here so I have others to watch the Dodger games with me but you would be welcome anytime to join us

    Jerry O

  3. I too am a Dodger fan since 1941 and proud of it. Sometimes, I can watch a game down here in South Florida.

    Michael Margaretten

    • Try living in Idaho Brother!!! There is no such thing as Baseball… The closest thing we have is Colorado Rockies minor league team which is just a horrible experience! I am counting g the days till this summer when I go home and catch my first Dodgers game in over 10 years… Keep your head up and GO BIG BLUE CREW!!!

  4. I lived in SoCal since birth for 45 years. Our family were big Dodger fans. As a family of six kids, we’d didn’t have much disposable income so we sat in the cheap peanut gallery seats and loved it because we didn’t know any better view. My best memories are eating Farmer John hot dogs and watching the classic infield of Garvey, Lopes, Russell, and Cey. Those were the days when players stayed with their teams for years and the owners treated them like family. Going to a Dodger game in those years was like eating your favorite comfort food. You knew exactly what the experience would be like and savored every bite. Oh well, my older sisters moved out of the house and moved to Orange County and most became, God forbid, Angel fans! In 2010, I moved with my nuclear family to the Bay Area, and the transition didn’t go so well since I carried with me my loyalty to the Dodgers. I didn’t mind the jokes, but the angry looks and mean comments were really offensive. I understand it at an actual game but not at my neighborhood Starbucks! I am obviously not some young swaggering punk, but a middle aged mother of two kids! It was actually easier during the first few years because the Giants were hot and their fans cared less about the Dodgers as they won three World Series. I have to admit I when to two WS games and cheered them on. However, when the Giants seasons became progressively worse as the Dodgers took the #1 spot in the last few years, the Giant fans have become more rude..Not all were rude; some would say I root for whoever is in the National League, but others rooted for anyone who would beat the Dodgers. Ah well, I still enjoy being a Dodger fan and wear my Dodger T-shirts proudly during the season….Dirty looks in the Bay Area be damned!

  5. Dodger fan in NE Iowa There are a dozen or so in the small county I’ve lived in since 1982. Been to a number of Dodgers games in Milwaukee and Chicago and once in Minneapolis Watching their games on At Bat is tricky here(I’ll spare you my rant) because we are considered part of the market in St Louis/Kansas City(7-8 hour drive), Minneapolis (2.5 hrs) Milwaukee (4+ hrs), and Chicago (5.5 to Wrigley ) .

  6. My husband has been a dodger fan for upwards of 30 years now and I’m an even bigger fan!! We live in Ky right over the TN line and I love wearing my dodger gear! We had the opportunity of visiting the dodger field last year and have seen some games in Cincinnati which we have plans to go again in May! There’s more fans here than you think but I get it! My hubby is even a SF fan which is weird that we live in Ky and he’s a Cali lover.

  7. Yes, it really sucks when you know they are playing and cable has it blocked….Not fun living in Braves territory and being a DODGER fan since way back in the Brooklyn days….GO LA…………….was at a game yrs ago in my Dodger t and got booooed…..so much for Southern hospitality!!grammia1@

  8. AJ…..You’re not alone as a Dodger fan here in Tennessee! I bleed blue back from the Koufax days. Nice work sharing your thoughts and memories. You know number. Salud Brother!

  9. I too am a Dodgers fan currently retired in Central Florida. Hailing from the New York metropolitan area, I’ve been a fan for over 65 years. Living in North and South New Jersey for many years, I could take in games in Philadelphia and New York. During a 4-year job stint in Eastern Washington in the early 1980’s, I did get to follow the Blue Crew almost nightly via the voice of Vin and an AM radio signal “bounce.” Since moving to Florida in 1998, I’ve had the opportunity to see them twice in Spring Training at Dodgertown in Vero Beach; during the regular season a few years back in St. Petersburg against the Rays (They visit Tampa Bay again in 2019); and this past season after making two 6-hour trips to Miami and Atlanta. With the advent of MLB.TV, personal computers, smart phones and smart TVs it is now easy to follow our beloved team. I caught the last 3 games of the 2018 World Series in the wee hours of the morning via MLB.TV/FOXGo and my cell phone as I was vacationing in Barcelona, Spain.

  10. This article hits home, big time! I grew up in SoCal, but have been in VA since 2000, moved out here with the Navy and stayed. Its always a ‘thing’ for me when I see another Dodger fan out here! Met a couple of fellow Dodger fans after a game in DC a couple of years ago and now we make sure to catch a few games together at a sports bar each season. Last year we went to one game in DC and we are looking to go to four different cities on the east coast in 2019!

  11. Oh, AJ, our Dodger Fandom is so parallel. Wow…I am alone in Oregon, where MLB is but a foreign language, and where I am always looking for any stranger I can instantly call “Dodger family.” Just 2 days ago, I walked into work, and there was a man sitting at the front desk, wearing a…wait for it…DODGER JACKET…zipped up, fully displaying the unspoken word…DODGERS! (I say unspoken, because Los Angeles is well, HATED in Oregon…you are evil if you support anything to do with CA, but especially Los Angeles)! I can’t fully express my reaction, but I said hello, did a double take, backed up, pointed straight at his jacket, with my jaw dropped, and eyes wide open, and reached out to high five him. Then I asked what part of he area he lived, etc. etc.

    We were having a great chat about post-seasons, favorite players, trades, etc. Shooting the breeze…simply in awe, that I could talk this talk. When all of a sudden…a lifelong Giants die hard fan walked in (whose family passed out Giants jerseys at a family Wedding). Boy, did that spark the conversation! Wow…such fun, but rare fun. That was actually my 2nd encounter with a “sort of” Dodger fan at work. It’s a lonely world. I rely heavily on my Dodgers Family on-line.

    • I too am a Dodgers fan in Portland, and I also get excited to see another fan wearing their Dodger gear. The last two years I’ve wanted to be around other Dodger fans during the WS. Unfortunately I can’t find a Dodger bar in town. There used to be a bar in Sherwood that was owned by a Dodger fan. They even had Dodger Dogs on the menu. Changed owners. Bye-bye Dodger bar.
      I’ve been making treks to Camelback every years since the Dodgers moved west for Spring Training. I explain to my family and friends that it’s like going to Church. Everyone there has the same “Faith” I do. We wear our Church clothes to the games and bars around the Phoenix area. And like you said, just to be able to talk to others about or team. That’s my religious experience.

      My best friend is a transplanted Dodger fan too. A mutual friend introduced us 30 years ago because she knew we were both Dodger fans. I don’t see her anymore. The good news is I have someone local to talk Dodgers with.

      • That’s fantastic, Dan! Drop me a note on twitter, and let’s have a Dodger chat 🙂 I need some kindred spirits to talk Dodger talk with. As I was leaving work today, I heard “Go Dodgers,” and there was that guy at the front desk, seeing me walking from afar. We talked about how we are all on pins and needles about breaking news, and I got home to the A.J. Pollock news. Yay! Go Dodgers…even from Portland, OR!

  12. I first became a Dodger fan when I was about 6 years old living in Texas. I am now 68 years old and live in WA state north of Seattle near the Canadian border. I get MLB TV and Almost always watch alone. In the summer I sit outside and watch on my I pad. I’m not real sure how I became a Dodger fan except that I was born in LA and my first little league team was called the Dodgers. I’ve never actually been to see the Dodgers live. A trip to Dodger stadium is on my bucket list.

  13. AJ, so wonderful to read your article. I too am a crazed dodger fan living in TN. Although I am in Johnson City, a few hours east if you. I watch EVERY game on mlb.tv which makes for tired eyes during the season! We go see the boys in blue every time they are within driving distance. Atlanta, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh every year. I have raised my three kids to bleed dodger blue, though non have ever been to Chavez Ravine in person.
    Whenever any of them see someone in public with a Dodgers, Lakers, or USC shirt or hat they run up to them. It is amazing the instant camaraderie that you have with a complete stranger. Dodger fans also show up in large numbers at opposing stadiums. It’s like a family reunion every game.
    If you are ever in east TN come say hello, we will watch a game together.

  14. AJ—You have described my life as a Dodger fan living outside of So.Cal. for the past 25 years. I grew-up watching Koufax and Drysdale and as an adult was a Season Ticket holder for a time. Sometimes we visit Tennesse and it would be great to meet you! In what city in Tenn. do you live?…Go Dodgers!!!

  15. Being a Dodgers fan in St. Louis is dangerous. I got on the Metro with my Dodgers cap on and was accosted for ‘banging’ gang colors. Yeah, right! This 64 year-old white, great grandmother is a gang banger. I told him I was a Dodgers fan before his mama was born. He shut up.

    • Love it, Barbara! (my mother’s name, by the way). I live 4 hours SW in Springfield. They are Cardinal Crazy here during baseball season (it’s expected, the double-A affiliate plays here at Hammons Field).

  16. Here in Northern California, we created a Facebook page “Bay Area Dodger Fans”. It’s a closed group for Dodger fans to express their love for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew free from all our giants friends and family. We go to 2-3 games together a year. We are hardcore Dodger fans living behind enemy lines! All Dodger fans are welcome to join us!

  17. Great article. I’ve been to 11 MLB stadiums, following the DODGERS, on road trips with my mom, and have encountered tons of non-Angeleno DODGER fans. We particularly enjoy finding out where they’re from & how much they love the DODGERS even if they aren’t from or live in L.A. This summers trip should be a great one…Boston & the city of brotherly love, Philly. Let’s just hope they’re kind?

  18. My work bud and I visited Cincinnati when they were playing the Padres. We had out Dodgers jerseys and caps. Best part was sitting next to a couple of Reds guys who were of the same age and treasured 70’s baseball. The 70’s, where the road to the World Series, went through the NL West. To me, my favorite rivalry and that of our new Reds buddies!

  19. AJ, I have a license plate holder too and have had people in Portland do the honk, hat, wave, thumbs up thing. I don’t tweet much, but consider myself part of the Dodger twitter family. I too watch games with iPad in hand to discuss games. Keeps me connected with My People.

  20. Living in Alabama and being a graduate of the University of Alabama, people just don’t understand when I tell them the Dodgers are my favorite sports team. I was a Dodger fan long before I even moved to Alabama. If there’s a Dodger playoff game on tv that conflicts with a Bama football game, I will always watch the Dodger game which is blasphemous in this state!! This past June I got to go to Dodger Stadium for the first time at age 61. I was blown away how friendly and nice everyone was to my wife and I. In fact, everywhere we went in LA for the week, the people were extremely cordial. Can’t wait to get back out there to catch another Dodger game and, hopefully, a Laker game, too! Hats off to So Cal!!

  21. I too am at Dodger fan living in Tennessee. This article hit close to home. I too am a Dodger fan in Tennessee. my car is decked out with a big L A window decal and a Dodgers license plate frame. I often wear Dodgers hats and shirts. As a matter of fact if the campus you were on was in Middle Tennessee on homecoming day it may have been me you saw. My wife’s old middle school uses the LA logo for their school so I thought it would be cool to represent the Dodgers and her school simultaneously during the parade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Loading…

0

Comments

0 Leave a Comment

Should The Dodgers Sign A.J. Pollock?

Dave Roberts Reflects And Moves Forward