By Craig Hill, Tacoma News
The baseball fan revolution has
It started in a den in Tacoma, Wash., the Marquette
University student union building, a corporate office in
Washington, D.C., and a home office in Rockwall,
It continues in cyberspace.
Thousands of fans, enraged that baseball labor
negotiations are spiraling toward the game's 10th work
stoppage since 1972, are organizing a grass-roots effort
to send a message.
"It's time for the fans to take back the game," said
Don Wadewitz, a 28-year-old administrator at Marquette
University in Milwaukee. Wadewitz and 40-year-old New
Jersey resident Jeff Santaite recently launched
mlbfanstrike.com, a Web site designed to promote a fan
boycott July 11 of baseball games, telecasts and
What they quickly learned was other fans are planning
similar boycotts across the country and were eager to
A 41-year-old Tacoma man who goes by the name
Commando Dave is trying to start a fan union.
Bob May, a 60-year-old retired businessman in
Rockwall, Texas, has started a nonprofit fan
Heather Holdridge, a 30-year-old Web page designer in
D.C., is also promoting a fan strike.
Fans trying to revolt against baseball isn't new, but
most of their protests have gone unnoticed in the past
because they've been unable to organize.
But this time, these fans believe things will be
different because of the Internet.
"There are two reasons it will be different,"
Holdridge said, citing baseball's declining attendance
as evidence that fans are already sending their message
to the game.
"First, the Internet has allowed us to connect. In
1994, I didn't know some of these fan groups in
Milwaukee and Minnesota even existed and I wouldn't have
known how to communicate with them.
"Second, there is a residual anger from 1994. We
can't believe the owners and players didn't learn their
In 1994, when baseball was heading toward a work
stoppage, Commando Dave wanted to organize a fan strike.
The only problem was he had no idea what to do.
Internet access hadn't yet become as commonplace as
cable TV. And he certainly didn't have the money for
mass mailings or an advertising campaign.
"The only thing I could think of was that Donahue
show," Dave said.
Phil Donahue wasn't interested, so Commando Dave
began calling sports radio stations, challenging fans to
take a stand. He keeps his identity secret because "I am
not the story," he said.
The response was minimal until 1999 when he started a
Web site, wethefans.com. In three years, about 1,000
fans signed up for his mailing lists and he formed
partnerships with other fan sites across the
Commando Dave has grand plans. He wants fans to have
a spot at the bargaining table with players and owners.
He also wants 100,000 fans per team to join his
"I don't see why we can't do that," Dave said. "Then
we will have real power. With the potential to massively
strike with 3 million fans, the players and owners would
have to listen to us."