They are the youngest and the oldest of 120 special Major League Baseball enthusiasts who have been nominated by their clubs in the inaugural MLB Fans of the Year presented by Esurance. Voting is underway at MLB.com/awards until 2 p.m. ET on Monday, and then 30 winners, one for each club, will be announced for a new award that symbolizes the unique passion and joy all fans bring to the game.
Without fans, there are no player contracts, no 162-game schedules, no walk-off homers, no ballpark dogs, no no-hitters, no All-Stars, no season tickets, no ballpark cathedrals, no curtain calls, no Draft picks, no rivalries, no mascots, no pennant races, no alternate home jerseys, no World Series, no autographed baseballs, no championship parades, no blockbuster trades, no FanFests, no live streams, no tweets, no rites of passage from one generation to the next.
The time has come to give real bragging rights to the people who make all this happen.
MLB and the 30 clubs worked tirelessly to identify the sport's top supporters, and four nominees per club have been presented for your vote. They might be you, or they might remind you of you. Rally around your fellow fans, and tell others to vote as well.
Winners whose clubs reach the League Championship Series or Fall Classic will receive tickets to root for their home team on a late-October night. For fans whose teams are not among the last four standing in the postseason, free tickets await for an April 2017 game of their choice.
Watch the nominee videos and you will no doubt recognize many of these candidates. Hey, it's that fan who invented the "Party at Napoli's" slogan seen at Indians home games this season. Hey, there's the "Greatest Sign Maker" at Oakland A's games. It's that guy who wrote the catchy song "Go Redbirds" in St. Louis, and the woman with all those pins on her Rays cap bringing friend after friend to sit beside her and learn the ropes.
There's the fan who started the "Renegades of the Rotunda," resplendent in Pirates regalia around PNC Park. It's the "catsuit guys" you see at Royals home games, and that dude with the insane mohawk glowing in Rockies colors at Coors Field. There are also a lot of fans you might not know about, who will move you when you see their stories.
Frankly, we can't say it any better than 13-year-old Jake Banas, one of the four White Sox nominees. In his video, Banas said:
"I love everything about baseball. From FanFests and Spring Training, to home games and road trips, to rookies and Hall of Famers, to bats and balls, to the World Series and perfect games, from skyboxes and cheap upper-deck seats, from old-school games and new-school games, from home runs and walk-offs, from first pitches and batting practice, from baseball cards and ballpark food, and most importantly, friends and family."
Oh, and he calls baseball "my love and my life."
Yeah, that about captures it. If you are reading this, then you are obviously on the same wave length. You may even be deserving of this award in your own right, but let's start with these 120 top fans.
They may be just coming into the game like Golnoski, and they may be filled with a long lifetime of precious ballpark memories. They will be from all walks and all ages. They are the fans of Major League Baseball, and it is time to give credit where it is due.
The MLB Fans of the Year presented by Esurance program represents the "first inning" of the Esurance MLB Awards, which honor greatness in Major League Baseball and serve as the grand finale of the game's awards season. Esurance MLB Awards voting will run from 4 p.m. ET on Monday to 2 p.m. ET on Nov. 11 and include nominees in 19 categories -- from Best Major Leaguer to Best Social Media Post to Best MLB Interview.
Media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and fans will determine the most #AwardWorthy players and moments from 2016. The MLB Awards winners will be revealed on Friday, Nov. 18, live on MLB.com and MLB Network.