KQED listener Chris Thompson is an avid A’s fan who recently found himself at a Giants game with work colleagues. He noticed fans a few rows away trying to get the wave started, but saw they were quickly booed by other Giants fans. Eventually ushers came over and told the group trying to start the wave to simmer down.

Thompson wrote to Bay Curious asking:

Why don’t they allow people to do the wave at Giants stadium?

First thing we have to get cleared up right away — there is no official policy against the wave at Giants games. It’s a self-imposed ban that has been a part of Giants fan culture for decades.

But why? I mean, it’s the wave. At many stadiums, it’s as much a part of baseball as hot dogs and beer.

The Oakland Athletics Started It

Krazy George Henderson tells KQED listener Christopher about the very first wave. (Adam Grossberg/KQED)
Krazy George Henderson tells KQED listener Chris Thompson about the very first wave. (Adam Grossberg/KQED)

Some Giants fans point back to the origins of the wave on Oct. 15, 1981, as the reason they developed a no-wave tradition.

The Athletics were battling the Yankees for the American League Championship, and things were not going well for Oakland. The A’s were down by two games in a best-of-five series, and were scoreless five innings into the game.

That’s when a professional cheerleader called Krazy George decided to unveil a cheer he’d been developing at local high school pep rallies.

Watch our video of Krazy George Henderson reliving the very first wave:

There is some dispute about whether or not Krazy George’s ’81 Oakland wave was in fact the first wave in history. Other claims point to the University of Washington or international soccer matches. But if you ask Krazy George, all of those other claims were either later than October 1981, or lack the proper supporting evidence of his nationally televised wave at the Oakland Coliseum.

“I say, ‘I don’t claim to have invented the wave. I DID INVENT THE WAVE.’ ”

Whether that’s definitive or not, the wave’s early connection to Oakland and the A’s is enough to turn some San Francisco Giants fans against it.

Bennett Dake came to a recent Giants game wearing a T-shirt he got in the ’80s. The back says: “Top 10 Reasons Real Fans Go to the ’Stick.” One reason? No wave.

“That’s Oakland,” he says. “We’re San Francisco. It’s always been like that. We don’t do the wave here.”

Bennett Dake shows of his "Late Night at the 'Stick" shirt from the '80s. Number 9 reads: "No Wave." (Adam Grossberg/KQED)
Bennett Dake shows off his ‘Late Night at the ‘Stick’ shirt from the ’80s. Number 9 reads: ‘No Wave.’ (Adam Grossberg/KQED)

The Wave Was Associated With Los Angeles (and Thus, the Dodgers)

Though the wave might have started in Oakland, it was broadcast internationally for the first time during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Television sets across the world showed images of the crowd doing the wave at the soccer final — in many minds forever linking the cheer with that city.

“I think the wave is seen as something really Los Angeles, and it was San Francisco reacting to that,” says Dan Fost, author of two books about the Giants.  “[The Dodgers fan] experience is all about beating the traffic, getting to the game late, leaving early and throwing beach balls around in the stands. And the wave is just such an L.A. part of that.”

It’s Too Mainstream

One identity trait that came up repeatedly during interviews with Giants fans was their feeling of uniqueness.

“Giants fans sort of think that they’re a little different, so we would never stoop to something as pedestrian as doing the wave,” says Pat Gallagher, who worked as the team’s director of marketing for nearly 33 years.

And let’s be honest, this identity goes beyond the baseball diamond. The San Francisco Bay Area as a whole has a long history of reveling in the ways it stands apart from the rest of America.

“Not doing the wave is a way of saying, ‘San Francisco is different and we don’t do that here,’ ” says Fost.

Need another example? Look no further than the Crazy Crab. At a time when baseball teams around the country were eagerly bringing cheery mascots into the mix, the Giants introduced an anti-mascot. The crustacean was a walking mascot parody, and fans were encouraged to boo, hiss and sometimes throw things at the poor schmuck stuck inside the costume.

Real Serious Fans Are Real Serious

Beyond tradition and perception, what is it about the wave that Giants fans dislike so much?

To put it simply, some people think that “real baseball fans” don’t do it. It’s seen as yet another frivolous ballpark novelty that detracts from their beloved pastime. Right up there with the Kiss Cam.

One Giants fan we spoke with says, “It’s an obnoxious response to fan excitement. I don’t like it. I think it’s silly.”

Real fans chart every pitch and obsess over fundamentals. Everyone else does the wave and eats cotton candy.

“Giants fans don’t do the wave because they are serious about baseball,” Fost says. “They love the game, they’re paying attention to the game, and they don’t want to take themselves out of the game.”

How the Tradition is Passed On

The Giants anti-wave philosophy is carried on as a sort of oral tradition. That is, via hearty “BOOOOOs.”

Gallagher says that when the team played at Candlestick, you’d often hear hardcore fans boo when anyone tried to start the wave.

“They weren’t booing the players, they were actually booing other fans,” he says.

It appears this tradition has made the trip from the ’Stick to AT&T Park.

Giants fan Dalton Hurst had a rude awakening at one of his childhood games.

“When I was a kid, I tried to start [the wave] and someone yelled at me,” says Hurst. “I don’t know why they don’t do it.”

But New Fans Doing The Wave?

Despite the booing, long-standing tradition and ’80s T-shirts — sacrilege — the wave has been spotted circling AT&T park recently. It may be that the team’s success is attracting new fans who just don’t know the rules yet.

Several die-hard fans blamed these bandwagon fans, (or “hipsters,” as one Giants fan called them) for bringing this abhorred tradition into their no-wave stadium.

YouTube Comments on a video titled, "The Wae at AT&T Park (Giants vs. A's).
YouTube Comments on a video titled, “The Wave at AT&T Park (Giants vs. A’s).

On one YouTube video of an AT&T Park wave, the comments section spells out this argument.

Sharing our Findings

We took our findings back to Chris Thompson, the question-asker for this Bay Curious story. He couldn’t help but laugh.

“Are they proud to be that bourgeois?” he says of Giants fans. “This is baseball. … It’s waves and hot dogs and beers.”

To wave or not to wave? Sound off in the comments below.

Got a question you want to see the Bay Curious team take on? Submit it!

Why Do Giants Fans Hate the Wave? Oakland Started It. 11 January,2018Olivia Allen-Price

  • pdquick

    Boujouis? Did he actually say “boujouis”? Or did the reporter misspell bourgeois?

  • Jack

    Yeah,sf giants fans are real serious – taking selfies throughout games, wearing giraffe of panda hats, etc..in holier than thou , politically correct sf

  • annewhitacre

    oh… this is SO wrong. The wave came from Robb Weller, the University of Washington cheerleader in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. the Oakland guy may have “invented” it, but if no one did it at games, then it never happened. Head north for the real story. See Wikipedia. A one time event (if that) isn’t the origin of the Wave.

    • mittendrin

      From Wikipedia:
      “While there is general disagreement about the precise origin of the wave, …”

      So, nothing definitive there.

    • Marty

      Hate to admit it, as there is little about the GNW that is original, but you’re right about The. Wave. starting in The Emerald City.

  • bikesrok

    I have seen the upper deck at AT&T Park (aka PacBell Park to many fans), but almost never in the lower stands where season ticket holders mostly have their seats. Giants fans enjoy being quirky, giraffe hats and all.

  • RaiderSpaceman

    The wave was actually originated in Mexico, soccer fans there been doing it for generations. But I don’t expect the Anglos to know that nor give credit were is due because it wasn’t something that was first done by them =/

    • mittendrin

      Source?

  • Nina Fujikawa

    Cute article, but these are awfully silly reasons why Giants fans don’t like the wave. The only reason why we don’t like it is because it’s distracting. “Real serious fans are real serious” is a bit patronizing, but, yeah, we take the game seriously. Giants fans have had the luxury—for several generations now—to root for good teams. We want to see every pitch, every called strike three, every catch at the wall. Doing the wave implies disinterest and boredom, but happily for us, there’s nothing boring about going to a ballgame. I think you’ll find fans in every major league park who share our opinion of the wave, we’ve just been a little better at self-regulation. But to say San Francisco fans don’t like the wave because it started in Oakland (which maaaybe it didn’t) or because LA adopted it (there are much more fun reasons to root against LA than their frequent waving), or because it’s too mainstream (you gotta be kidding me with that one)… well, you clearly don’t get out to the ballpark enough. In fact, I suspect you’re an Indians fan 😉

    • Jonatton Yeah

      Oh my god, get off your high horse. You sound like that bellend Dan Fost. The Giants have been good for 5 years with a few bright spots in their 57 years in San Francisco. They almost left for the other Bay in the early ’90’s (that being Tampa), remember. Giants’ fans are not better than any other fan base. They don’t pay more attention. They don’t have their heads stuck in their phones any less. They don’t cheer for laundry any more than anyone else. They’re not better at “self-regulation” whatever that’s supposed to mean. Shut up already.

      • Nina Fujikawa

        Will do! Thanks for the reminder homie!

      • donny b

        Jeez dude, settle down! “Shut up already”? It’s a discussion. High horse, my butt.

  • Nina Fujikawa

    Oh pardon me, Orioles fan. They had a good run last year. [Said while polishing souvenir World Series trophies]

  • JDR

    Hey, lady…No wave…

  • Maxime Diament

    When I was a kid I liked going to the ballpark for many reasons, but as an adult, I want to watch as much of the game as I can. If the game stops for some reason, I see no problem with it, but the wave is a distraction. The wave is childish. It’s for dodgers fans. If you’re watching the “thinking mans game”, you’re not thinking about when to jump up and down, unless it’s to let your favorite player know how much you love them. Anyone who claims to be a diehard fan, of any team, will have their eyes on the field, not the stands. Go Giants.

  • mumu

    Last A’s game I was at, people trying to start the wave were promptly booed down by the RF bleachers, so I think it pisses A’s fans off too.

Author

Olivia Allen-Price

Olivia Allen-Price is producer and host of the Bay Curious series. Prior to joining KQED in 2013, Olivia worked at The Baltimore Sun and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. She holds degrees in journalism and political science from Elon University. She loves to talk about running, ice cream and curly hair.

Follow: @oallenprice
Email: oallenprice@kqed.org

Author

Adam Grossberg

Adam Grossberg is a video producer at KQED News. Prior to coming to KQED, he produced videos for PBS, The New York Times, Current TV and The Center for Investigative Reporting. His work has received an Excellence in Journalism award from the Society of Professional Journalists, a regional Murrow award and two Northern California Emmy awards. He is a graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Email: agrossberg@kqed.org

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