Stadium Etiquette

The culture of baseball is a mannered one, with definitive unwritten rules on decorum that have developed over the past 100 years. (Don’t show up a pitcher with excessive home-run celebrations, don’t throw at a hitter’s head, don’t get tobacco juice on the batboy.) The rules for spectators have always been somewhat more nebulous. No longer.

Getting to Your Seat
Hang around the entrance ramp until the mid-inning changeover or a visit from the pitching coach. At the very least, wait until an at-bat is over, then hustle. Stay on the right side of the aisle, and if an at-bat starts while you’re en route, crouch. If people around you violate these rules, retaliate by pretending you didn’t notice that they were trying to get by, then crane your neck around them as they pass.

Illustrations by Jason Lee

Stopping Children From Kicking Your Chair
So frustrating, the social taboo against slapping strange children! Turn your head in a nonthreatening, friendly manner and see if you can make eye contact with a parent. If he doesn’t shrug his shoulders apologetically and gently admonish the child, engage your nemesis with a “Who’s your favorite player?” line or hand him a glove, program, or random object you found on the ground. Kids love that stuff!

Yelling at an Opposing Fan
This guy will be getting the business all game, so you’re going to have to resort to deception to make a real mark. Befriend him early—he will be looking for a friendly face—and make him think you’re on his side. Later, when he least expects it, preferably in the satisfied lull that follows an outstanding inning for the home team, stand up and unleash a catalogue of derogatory stereotypes about the backwater city his loser team hails from. Then sit back and revel in your intricate heckling gambit!

Ejecting a Seat-Stealing Interloper
Trying to cadge seats you didn’t pay for is just part of the game. When you find someone in your seat during the first few innings, you enter a delicate theatrical ritual woven into the game’s fabric as deeply as the finger-pointing and dirt-kicking between irate manager and curmudgeonly umpire. Politely lay claim to your rightful spot, and don’t laugh when the intruders stare quizzically at their tickets and pretend it was an honest mistake. Later in the game, when seat predation becomes even more socially acceptable, keep one member of your party planted at all times to mark your turf.

Becoming a Seat-Stealing Interloper
Unless a lengthy rain delay has thinned the crowd, don’t move down to better seats before the fifth inning. A few limitations: Never make anyone stand up to let you into a seat that’s not yours, and always check with the nearest fan to make sure that the seats are indeed vacant. If you want to be drunk and obnoxious, go for it. Just don’t sit next to a family unless they look like they are also drunk.

Ordering a Refreshing Beverage
Raise your fingers to indicate the number of beers you want. Be restrained; don’t wave, but shout if you like: The stadium is the only place in which yelling to get the attention of service-industry employees is acceptable, as long as you use the same hearty ballpark cadence with which they’re selling their wares. (“Heyyyy … beer heeeyah!!!!”) Tip decently, and under no circumstances make anyone pass coins down the row back to you.

Leaving Early
Don’t leave early.

Stadium Etiquette