Originally created 10/26/02

World Series generating new Angels fans



ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Marque Royston had never been to a baseball game.

Then, the Anaheim Angels started winning, defeating the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins to get to the World Series.

Now, the 37-year-old Royston can't get enough of the game - or the team she's come to call her own.

"The crowds, the noise, all of it, I just love it," she said.

She is one of the thousands of first-time Angels fans who have packed Edison Field during the best season in the franchise's four decades of existence. She is also part of what the Angels hope is the foundation on which it can build generations of loyal fans.

Through decades of disappointment, the Angels have never enjoyed the loyal following that has been the hallmark of teams such as the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Cubs - or even their World Series foes, the San Francisco Giants.

Anaheim officials hope this season will change that.

"This is the easy part. Everybody loves a winning team. The real trick now is to figure out how to keep these people as Angels fans," said Tom Boyd, an expert in sports marketing at California State University, Fullerton.

The best way to ensure newly minted Angels fans keep coming back again and again would be a World Series win, Boyd said. If they lose the Series but hang on to their newfound fans, it would be a sure sign they've arrived, he said.

He pointed to huge fan bases in Chicago and Boston that have endured, even in seasons when the result has been less-than-stellar.

"These are people who have come to feel a strong bond with the team. A citizen of those cities feels a part of those teams," Boyd said.

"That's why the ThunderStix and the Rally Monkeys are so terrific for the Angels right now. These are things that are making the fans feel they are involved in the game and in the success."

Frank Blair, an 85-year-old retired dentist, has seen nearly all the Angels' ups and downs. As the Angels first season ticket holder, he remembers when games were played to a near-empty stadium.

"I think this might be the turning point. They are really prime for it," he said. "The fans are really going great. They are really stirred up for it. I think it will carry over."

Boyd also said cultivating children as fans was essential. He pointed to the success of the Detroit Tigers in pulling families to games despite a bad year. The team offered pregame activities for children, such as playing on the field and meeting the ballplayers.

At the Angels' team store, Bill Valentine recently stood in line with his two children to buy jackets and shirts.

Valentine, 39, has been an Anaheim fan since childhood. He began introducing his two children - Brent, 2, and Alyssa, 11 - to the game this year. It's an introduction that apparently has made an impression.

"Ahn-guhls," Brent said, pointing to the logo on a jacket.

"That's right, that's the Angels," Valentine said. "Every fan should know that."

Minutes later, the boy was clad in the jacket and waving a team flag.

On the Net:

http://anaheim.angels.mlb.com/