As the Cleveland Indians make their first World Series appearance since 1997, Bluffton students Floid Krajcovic, Mercedes Burns, Ashley Salyer and Colton Steiner reflect on their life and experience as Cleveland fans.
What made you become an Indians fan?
Krajcovic: My whole family are Indians fans, and they are fans of all Cleveland sports teams.
Burns: Growing up with my grandparents when I was younger, my grandpa was a huge Indians fan and took me to my first Indians game. I’ve just always loved baseball and grew up loving the Indians.
Salyer: I have been an Indians fan for as long as I can remember. My family is a Cleveland everything fan and that is what I was brought up on.
Steiner: I was raised in northeast Ohio and with my family being huge sports fans, I grew in to the teams that they were cheering for and all of them loved Cleveland sports. I just loved the interaction between the fans of the Indians and the team. While I know that every team has a different connection with their fans, the connection that I was able to make felt special to me personally. Sports in general is something that my family is very passionate about so it was something I grew to love and have loved for the majority of my life.
How long have you been a fan?
Krajcovic: I was born into a family of Indians fans, so I would say since the day I was born.
Burns: Since I can remember.
Salyer: From when I first knew what the game of baseball was.
Steiner: I could say that I have been an Indians fan my entire life, but I really started being a fan when I was around five or six years old. It kind of all hit me at once when I became a fan of Cleveland sports. While my parents loved sports, they never forced it on me and I just really enjoyed watching the Indians, Cavs, and even the Browns. An early memory that I have was when my cousin, who was very young at the time, couldn’t say or pronounce my name so he just called me Coco. At the time, I really liked that because the Indians had Coco Crisp and I was a big fan of his. With him being back on the Indians roster and doing well, it brings back some great memories of that time of my life when I became a fan.
Does your family watch the games, too? And, if so, do you get in contact after or during the games?
Krajcovic: Yes, they do. Mainly after the games, but for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) I was talking to them in the seventh inning counting down the outs.
Burns: Yes, my dad watches baseball heavily. We occasionally talk about the games, sometimes I’ll watch them with him when I’m at home or I’ll watch them on my own. I constantly get updates on the games.
Salyer: Yes, my grandparents have only missed three innings of the Indians all year, and my parents also watch every night they are on when they are not busy. I have been in contact with all of them throughout the postseason during and after games.
Steiner: My family watches almost every game when we are able to. After the games, we always text each other about the game and talk about how awesome it was or how atrocious it was. But with the Indians going to the World Series for the first time since 1997, we have been very ecstatic when communicating with each other about the Tribe.
Do you feel like you have a community of fans at Bluffton?
Krajcovic: Oh yes. There are fans of the Indians on the football team, and we share the same love for the team.
Burns: We have quite a few Indians fans on campus. Some more or less bandwagon since we became good, but you’ll have that with any team. It seems that most baseball fans are either Indians or Reds fans.
Salyer: In a way I do feel like I have a community of fans here. Most of my basketball teammates are big Cleveland fans and most other friends as well.
Steiner: I feel I have a great group of fans here. Since the last 52 years of Cleveland sports history has been pretty depressing, it is a fantastic feeling celebrating the city’s success the last several months with other fans. Having a great time with fans of your team is an extremely fun experience.
What is it like for you to be in a community with a broad diversity of favorite teams?
Krajcovic: It makes it fun to be a fan of the Indians because you get to sit there and smack talk someone else’s team after the Indians beat them. It is sort of like when the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines play, that’s the biggest game of the year for most of us Ohio sports fans.
Burns: It makes it that much better. You get to talk about the opposing team to your friends who happen to like that team and vice versa. Baseball seems to be more relaxed, where if you’re a Reds fan, an Indians fan isn’t going to shun you. Whereas some Ohio State fans would Michigan fans. The rivalry on campus is good and makes it fun to watch the games.
Salyer: It doesn’t bother me to have diversity around the campus.
Steiner: I honestly really enjoy being on a campus that has such a diverse group of fans of different teams. When you have the same group of fans in one area, it is very enjoyable but it is also nice hearing about fans of other teams talk about players that are on that team to look out for. For the last couple years, a lot of the friends that I hung out with a lot weren’t fans of my favorite team. As a sports enthusiast, I get to learn a lot more about other teams and their players, so it is much more interesting to watch when you know more about the team you’re facing.
Are there any big rivalries on campus?
Krajcovic: No, not with the Indians. It is mainly with the Browns, Cavaliers and the Buckeyes
Burns: Like I said before, there are a lot of Reds and Indians fans but there are also several Cubs fans, which right now could be pretty big against the Indians if they win. Nothing is that huge around campus besides the Michigan / Ohio State rivalry.
Salyer: I wouldn’t say that I have noticed any huge rivalries on campus.
Steiner:For me, whenever my team is playing someone else’s team, which is a fun rivalry in itself because you can see whose team’s better. It also makes it more fun to watch because you actually know someone who is a fan of that team and can interact with that person more openly.
Is there a lot of smack talk?
Krajcovic: No, not really with the Indians. It’s mainly with the Browns, Cavs and the Buckeyes. These three teams are the sports teams that the football players and other sports fans I know talk smack about with each other. I really don’t know fans of teams from the American League (AL) or AL Central in baseball.
Burns: There is plenty of smack talk but that’s what makes the games more fun and entertaining, especially when it’s your closest friends.
Salyer: I’m not involved in talking about them or “smack” talking about the games. Most of my friends are Cleveland fans.
Steiner: The fun thing about sports is that smack talk is fun to do, except when your team loses. As a Cleveland fan I have had my fair share of embarrassing loses so I have gotten the post-game smack talk a lot. However, it is all part of the game and it’s one of the enjoyments about sports where we can brag about our team against someone else’s. Before the game starts, it is anyone’s game so might as well talk some trash.
Featured photo: Bluffton University junior Colton Steiner is among the many Cleveland faithful hoping for a World Series win. Photo by Taylor Cook.