Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 03:31:27 EST


Subject: Fan

"Fan" was discussed in AMERICAN SPEECH (Fall 1996, pages 328-331) and

also in COMMENTS ON ETYMOLOGY (October 1996, pages 2-12). On page 3 of COE, a

citation includes: "_Sporting Life_, Dec. 7, 1887, p.3/6 (right part of

column is missing)."

Guess what? In the National Baseball Library's microfilm copy, it's not

torn at all! It's perfect! It reads as follows:

W. G. Betty was numbered among the Roastologists and he had a grievance.

He delived (sic) a lecture to the point, "Give Us a Show," and dealt with


Said he:--"Crank, fiend, fanatic. Now isn't that a nice array of

appellations for the many friends of the National pastime? Let us see what

Webster says about this.

"First--'Crank' can not be found in the dictionary, and must therefore be

something awful, as it is not even given and marked _vulgar_. My edition of

the book does not contain the word as applied to those who drop their fifty

cent pieces in the turnstile at Bank and Western avenues.

"Second--'Fanatic,' extravagant in opinions; excessively enthusiastic.

Now do you think the two to ten thousand people who attended the games in this

city the past season have been extravagant in their opinions and excessively

enthusiastic? The latter definition may be true to a certain extent, but the

cause thereof was removed, thanks to the efforts of the press of our city.

"Third--'Fiend,' an implacable or malicious foe, a devil; an infernal

being. This caps the climax. To think that we are classed with such as are

described above.

"Now let us see what is said of those who are very much attached to lawn

tennis, canoeing, bicycle riding and other out-door sports.

"'Devotee'--One who is wholly devoted, _admirer_; one who esteems or

loves greatly.

"'Patron'--An advocate; a supporter.

"And so I might go on and show the contrast between the lover of the

National game and others. Why should this difference be made? Just because

my taste for out-door sport has an inclination to base ball should I have such

names applied to me any more than the lawn tennis player, the canoeist or the


Tom Sullivan is to blame for the outburst for he "did it" with his

description of "fans" (see this 23 Nov. 1887 quote on pg. 328 in AS--ed.)--the

wild Western enthusiasts who meet you before the game and slap you on the back

with the inquiry:

"Well, old man, how is she going to-day?"

That is the sort of a fellow they call a "fan" out beyond the Mississippi

river. Still I think Brother Betty has moralized to good effect, don't you?



I looked though the SPORTING LIFE for April, May, June, July, August,

September, October, November, December 1886 and parts of January 1887. I

didn't find "fan," but found lots of "cranks" (or "kranks").