Superfans are the Heart and Soul of baseball
By Bonnie Schiedel

There are people who like to see a ball game sometimes. And then there are baseball fans who could be called “superfans.” For the Weiss family in Thunder Bay, baseball is at the heart of their family life, volunteering, and recreation.

Former Border Cats players Shane Shepard and Vinny Santarsiero with host family Andrea, Clint, Jack, and Charlie Weiss.

“My husband Clint coaches and is a co-convenor for the Port Arthur Nationals Little League, and my boys, Jack and Charlie, both play for the Lakers and are bat boys for the Border Cats. I’m more of a taxi driver/cook/cheerleader/uniform scrubber,” says Andrea Weiss. The family started acting as a host family for Border Cats players 10 years ago, and they usually host two players a season, even getting players to sign a door in their home as a memento. Weiss’s kids, of course, think it’s great to have players living with them every summer. “There’s often some wiffle ball with the kids going on in the yard, and the neighbour kids join in too. Because we’re a host family, we feel connected to the players when we go to a Border Cats game. It’s kind of like going to watch your kid play,” she says. Plus, there’s the social aspect of visiting with friends while munching popcorn and watching the game.

That atmosphere is part of the appeal for longtime fan Kim Serraville too—she rarely misses a Border Cats game with her friends Amanda Harris and Leah Bellin. “My favourite thing about baseball is meeting the players and spending time outside, watching the game live,” she says. “The best part about going to a game is hearing the train song when we win!”

Former Border Cats player Grant McKown with Marty Sauer

Marty Sauer goes to almost every game as well. “Baseball is fun because you forget about whatever is going on in your own life and just get into the game,” she says. “I like taking kids to the games too. I remember when my grandson was a toddler, we were at a Cats game and the announcer would say the number of a player and my grandson would fill in the name!” Recently, she’s been taking family friends, the kids from a local Syrian refugee family, to the ballpark to cheer on the Border Cats. Sauer has also been a host family for 10 years, reasoning that since the players play for free, she can offer room and board. And while she has gone to major league games—she has fond memories of her 1950s childhood in Chicago, when her Aunt Ada would take her to see the Cubs at Wrigley Field—she prefers local games.

“At the big stadiums the players are so far away they may as well be ants running around,” she says. “Here you get to know the players and say hi. And the ballpark community feels like family. Baseball is my game.”