The Fan Who Left
by Denis Clifford

I've been a Giants fan since 1947, when I was seven. My devotion was total, passionate as only someone can be who falls in love with a team as a child. “Yea Giants!” was the caption under my picture in my junior high school yearbook.

Nine years after the Giants moved to San Francisco, I followed them from Manhattan. Through bad years and oh-so-close years, decade after decade, I kept my fan’s faith. Someday, the Giants would win it all, and I’d be watching. The only time they did win during my 50+ years of rooting, in 1954, my father had a year’s job in France, and I learned of the Giants’ triumph through brief reports in the Paris Herald Tribune.

Last spring, I agreed with Peter Magowen: This was the best Giants team in years. And now they were in the World Series! And leading three games to two, and up 5-0 in the 6th game. By the start of the 7th inning, my hope surged to confidence. We couldn’t lose, not with our big lead, and Ortiz pitching well, and our excellent bullpen. I told Naomi, who’d become a fan as an adult, that I could smell Victory (whatever Victory smells like). Then disaster—the Giants lost, 6-5. Devastatingly pained, I felt as if every woman who’d ever rejected me had combined for one crushing blow. “I can’t believe it!” I cried. “I just can not believe it! … How could we …” I ranted on, until, to my surprise, I erupted with fury. “I’m sick of being hurt,” I screamed. “I’m fed up with the Giants and disappointment. I’ve had it!” Naomi said my response was turning weird. I raged on for another hour until suddenly I calmed—astonishingly, I now didn’t seem to care very much.

Within a day, I realized why. My seven-year fan/fanatic felt he'd been burned once too often. Impulsively and decisively, he’d grabbed his glove and bat, and went away. I sensed that he’d never return. No longer was my soul welded to the Giants’ fortunes. There was no “we” of the team and me. Abruptly, I’d become a sixty+ years old adult who'd once been die-hard Giants fan. I was now mildly interested in the 7th game, which I didn't expect the Giants to win. During the game, which Naomi watched, I sorta listened while paying bills; I asked Naomi to call me if something good was happening. When the Giants lost, I was briefly, mildly disappointed.

I certainly didn’t choose or decide that my fan should leave—he just left. As Wordsworth wrote, “Whither is fled the visionary gleam? Where is it now, the glory and the dream?” Gone, gone. I may miss that boy, especially if the Giants ever make it back to the World Series. Still, his departure allowed me to see, by the time the Giants lost the Series, that they’d had a magical year, even if the magic finally deserted them. And perhaps I’m saner with this odd detachment I’m left with. At the least, given the Giants’ history, I’m sure to feel much less pain during future baseball seasons.