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Why I’m a fan of the Detroit Tigers

I’m a new fan by most standards, but my devotion is genuine.

Division Series - Baltimore Orioles v Detroit Tigers - Game Three Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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Asking someone why they’re a fan of a team is kind of like asking, “Why do your love your siblings?” or, “How did you choose your best friends?” It’s not the kind of question you can provide an easy answer to.

For some, a love of the Detroit Tigers was impressed upon them at birth. Generations of fans have grown up having the love of baseball, and of the Tigers in particular, handed down to them like a legacy, from their grandparents, to their parents, and then on to their own children.

People will warmly recall listening to a Tigers game on the radio with their father while learning to fix a car; or going to games with their mother, who taught them all about the rules, while sharing popcorn and hot dogs.

A love of baseball is often learned because someone we love gave it to us as a gift. Baseball is a bond that unites families and friends. Sharing it is like letting someone in on a wonderful secret.

I didn’t come to the Detroit Tigers as a child. My fandom is younger than most, having only begun in 2011. But it was gifted to me all the same, shared with me by someone who loved the team. And I saw the way he loved the game, and the players, and my own love for the sport blossomed. Soon, my devotion to the team was all my own. I watched the games, memorizing player names, re-discovering as an adult a sport I hadn’t paid attention to since I was nine years old.

I’m the kind of person who dives head-first into new passions. Once I’ve decided to like something, I will obsess about it, devour all available knowledge of it, and then usually move on to the next thing. But with baseball, it was different. The available knowledge was endless. The histories were rich, the books available covered every topic from players to physics to the racial divide that plagued baseball’s youth. As a history major, I was besotted on a whole new level by just how deep this rabbit hole could go.

Now, I’ve entered my seventh season of Tigers fandom, and the obsession shows no sign of waning. I know more now about the team, and about baseball in general, than I ever imagined. I know more than even the person who introduced me to the Tigers knows. And still, the possibilities to learn more continue to astonish me.

The Tigers themselves barely resemble the same team I first fell in love with in 2011, and in some ways that is a good thing. Baseball teaches us to adjust. We learn to say goodbye, and to welcome new faces. We can look at players who once donned an old English D, and think of them fondly as “old friends.”

During my time with the Tigers I have seen tremendous successes and heartbreaking failures. I learned how to accept that “you can’t win ‘em all” is as true on the field as it is in life. I have stayed up far too late to watch a West Coast game in extra innings, and have spent far too much money to buy a ticket to watch the Tigers lose the World Series.

I have learned so much, not just about baseball, but about a team, and the men who make it up. I’ve learned about fans, and about the joy of sharing this thing I love with others.

I don’t know if I could pinpoint exactly why I chose this team over any other, I just know that when I first sat down in 2011 and saw Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and Alex Avila take the field, I felt like a part of me had come home.

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