Section 149: Master Marketers

Everybody loves bacon. Except for vegetarians and vegans I suppose. (Photo: Will MacNeil - Right Field Bleachers)

Everybody loves bacon. Except for vegetarians and vegans I suppose. (Photo: Will MacNeil – Right Field Bleachers)

During the six and-a-half seasons I’ve been a part of Section 149 we have come to take a certain degree of pride in both our dedication to the team and the various ways we express that dedication. While our zany antics are mostly about just having a good time and showing the team we’re nuts for A’s baseball, we’ve also taken it upon ourselves to spread the gospel of the Green Cathedral in the hopes that we can drum up (pun intended) more fan support and put an end to the ridicule we get from other teams’ fans for having sub par attendance. 

We always try to get friends and family to go to more games. I really can’t say for sure whether we have had an impact on getting more people in the park, but it’s impossible to deny that we’ve had a discernible effect on the way people perceive our fan base. Whether it’s fans on internet forums or analysts on MLB Network, people have started to learn that the A’s have some real deal fans who have to be dead or in prison to miss a game.

When I first became a part of the 149 crew the setup was still fairly basic: Three or four flags, a drum, and maybe a small homemade sign or two. At the time, the Left Field crew, prominently featuring Bobby in his 510 gear, was known for having the rowdiest section in the Coliseum. We slowly began to incorporate more things such as cow bells and large banners, but for the most part things remained pretty much the same for the first few years.

As time passed and our numbers began to swell, the ideas for showing our fandom began to become more elaborate and off-the-wall. Funky outfits, outlandish props, and themed days quickly became the norm. It was from this mix of creativity and randomness that Bacon Tuesday was born during the 2011 season. From then on, the amount of attention we receive has increased exponentially, and the A’s have certainly noticed.

During the 2012 rendition of Bacon Tuesday, we noticed the scoreboard in the Coliseum displaying bacon graphics and advertising the festivities of the event about halfway through the rain-soaked game. Despite not having any prior knowledge of our event, the A’s quickly picked up on it and ran with it. It should come as no surprise to anybody that Farmer John, a purveyor of lunch meats and other meat products, joined on as a sponsor this season and gives away coupons for bacon.

There's also a lot of salt in America's favorite cured piece of dead animal flesh. (Photo: Ross Retzler - Right Field Bleachers)

There’s also a lot of salt in America’s favorite cured piece of dead animal flesh. (Photo: Ross Retzler – Right Field Bleachers)

Two years ago, Will started throwing his arms around during Grant Balfour’s entrance just as a hilarious way to vent some of the angry energy and frustration that had been building up from watching a team with high expectations disappoint all season. The video below from August  16, 2011 is the earliest recorded footage we have of the “Balfour Rage.”

Metallica has a way of making people want to lose their minds and dumb out. We just figured we were doing some stupid shit to have fun. Nobody had any idea what it would snowball into.

Now we have Majestic Athletic selling “Rage” shirts and the A’s had a Grant Balfour ragin’ gnome giveaway day in which Will threw out the ceremonial first pitch. National media outlets have showered us with praise for the routine. All from Will just saying, “The hell with it,” and letting himself go crazy.

In the past year, I’ve seen countless posters on internet forums declare their love for us in 149. Even though we’re still saddled with the reputation for not packing the house on a consistent basis, real baseball fans have come to learn that those of us who do show up are loud and proud, and rather knowledgeable about the game to boot.

I’ve also seen people say that they think we’re gimmicky and only out for the attention. Trust me, we’ll be doing this shit whether it’s a sell-out or with just 10,000 in the stands, as is usually the case when we birth most of our ridiculous ideas. We actually do want attention, but not for personal noterity. We want to bring attention to the fact that many people are diehard fans of the A’s, and we love the team despite all the shortcomings (old stadium, low payroll, controversial owners, etc.) we deal with. Instead of lamenting our low standing in the hierarchy of baseball, we’ve flipped the script and turned our deficiencies into a badge of honor to be worn with pride by A’s fans around the globe.

Throughout it all, we never stop thinking of ways to have fun and get more people involved. Last night’s game was a prime example. After the A’s locked up the win, the crew headed out to the parking lot as usual for our postgame routine. While there, Anson spotted a huge throng of Japanese tourists standing near Gate A. Being the natural entertainer that he is, Anson sauntered over and made this Vine video.

I don’t know how many of those people will end up following the A’s, but if it’s at least one it shows that we know how to bring people into mix. For all the heat the A’s take for the attendance problems, they may want to consult us for ways to get people excited and into the stadium. We’re just fans, but we never stop running out of ideas or motivation.

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