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Baseball’s Superfan

Dave Newman catches some 40 games a year in his quest to see one in every Major League stadium

Dave Newman at Yankee Stadium in 2008, his last game at the old park before it was replaced in 2009. The Yankees lost to the Red Sox 3 to 7.

In our affection for America’s iconic trio — baseball, hot dogs and apple pie — we are not all equal. I am fond of baseball. You might well be fonder. Crofton’s Dave Newman is fondest.
    Newman was born a baseball fan — specifically a New York Yankee fan. The Brooklyn Dodgers and Giants had fled to California. The Mets had not yet arrived. New York was a Yankee town, and Dave’s a Yankee family.
    “Mickey Mantle was my favorite player of all time,” Newman says. He saw his life’s most memorable ballgame back in the 1960 season, his first time to see Mantle play
    The summer of 1961 upped Newman from fond to fonder. The 10-year-old Brooklyn kid fixated on the battle of heroes as Yankee sluggers Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris batted to break Babe Ruth’s 34-year-old single-season record of 60 home runs. The story leaped from the sports section to Page One news, and from New York papers to the national stage.
    Maris broke The Babe’s record with his 61st home run in the last game of the season.
    Newman’s devotion did not flag. Game by game, he evolved into superfanhood.
    Newman has no need to estimate how many games he has seen. An analyst by trade, he has a spreadsheet that lists every game, noting the opposing teams, date, venue and, of course, the outcome. Though he started keeping records several years into his sports devotion, he had saved (and still saves) every ticket stub from every game he has ever attended.
    Since he retired in 2010, Newman’s been catching about 40 games a year. These are not just Orioles games; he is on a quest to see a game in every Major League stadium. This is a moving target, as teams build new parks and change cities. Next on his list is Denver; after that, San Francisco to see the Giants play. He had checked off Candlestick Park, but in 2000 the Giants moved to a new stadium; so it’s back to California.  
    The 2017 baseball season opened with more than 1,443 lines in the spreadsheet.
    How does he explain his devotion?
    “This is the one part of your life when you can be illogical and unreasonable,” Newman says.
    Yet civility enables him to survive as a Yankee fan in Orioles country. “We have arguments, disagreements and animated discussions, but it’s never bitter, and we stay friends,” he says. “Not like politics.”
    Improbable as it seems, Newman tries to keep his quest in perspective.
    “Family always came first, then the job, then sports,” he says. His wife is not a sports fan and rarely goes to games. “But she is very supportive,” he says, “and understands what it means to me.” That’s a good thing, as he and his son who works in Washington, D.C., have season tickets to the Nationals.

Genetic Markers of the Superfan
    Buying season tickets, following your team, saving game memorability are obsessions Newman shares with many fans — though he does them more often. Not so many are active members in the Society for American Baseball Research, a membership organization 7,000 strong dedicated to researching and publicizing the history of baseball.
    The Society is serious about its work. Every fact uncovered must be verified with at least two independent sources. Newman attends annual meetings and ballgames with the Washington/Baltimore chapter. He has also worked on several research teams, where proximity to the Library of Congress has been an asset. His research focused on the statistics of players in the old Negro League. In 1971, the Hall of Fame inducted its first Negro League player, Satchel Paige. Newman helps to gather the data that will eventually enable the Hall of Fame to identify other worthy players.
    Newman’s devotion to publicizing baseball history led to our meeting. I was his student in The History of Baseball in America in Anne Arundel Community Collage Peer Learning Partnership program. He also teaches at Anne Arundel County senior centers.
    Interested? Here’s a teaser. Contrary to what you were taught in your high school gym class, Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball. Newman’s class reveals both the true origin of the sport and how the Doubleday myth came into being.