“An opener is not like any other game. There’s that little extra excitement, a faster beating of the heart. You have that anxiety to get off to a good start, for yourself and for the team. You know that when you win the first one, you can’t lose ’em all.“ – Early Wynn
Its finally here! Opening Day is my favorite day of the year. It’s the day thousands (millions?) of us anxiously wait for during those empty months between October and March. (Seriously, Opening Day should be a national holiday – everyone should get the day off!!)
It may come as a surprise, however, that some people barely notice this monumentous occasion. To this day, there are still people who ask me, “Opening day for what?” (Someone literally asked me a few weeks ago when I said I’d just got back from Spring Training: “Oh really? What kind of training were you in?”)
So, naturally, as a baseball sociologist, I did a little number crunching. Just how many baseball fans are there? In 2010, just over 73 million people attended a regular season MLB game. The 2o1o Census counted 308.7 million people living in the United States. That means, nearly one-quarter of the people in the United States (23.6% to be exact) attended a major league game in 2010.
Sort of. That doesn’t quite mean there are 73 million baseball fans. Of those 73 million people, many were season ticket holders and people (like me) who attended more than one game, so some of the 73 million are really the same folks showing up again. Plus, there are people who, for some unknown reason, attend only because their friends/family/spouses are attending – I’m not so sure we should count them as “fans.” So, we’d have to subtract that small subset from the 73 million.
However, we could add back in minor league baseball fans (though, I’m sure their numbers are highly correlated with MLB fans). Then, of course, there are the people who’d like to attend games, but can’t afford to, can’t take the time off, don’t live close enough to a team, etc. (We could look at television viewing data to add them in, but I’d rather just focus on watching today’s games.)
So, really we probably can say at least one-quarter of the population is baseball fans. Maybe more. Given those large numbers, I think we should definitely take the day off!
Happy Opening Day, everyone!