Indoctrination 101: Seven, it’s the Magic Number

Winter is here and sounds of baseball no longer permeate through the familial living room. It is a time when the women of the AJM household manipulate programming to a far greater extent than they do during the summer season. I am an adult and I have learned to cope with such sacrifice. This free time however, has been known to  cause consternation amongst the daughters AJM as they are forced to grapple for leftover scraps of free TV time. Fortunately the Mrs. and I have taught the girls mechanisms for fair decision making . . .

A couple of weeks ago the eldest daughter came to me with a proposition for choosing a movie, which required my services as arbitrator:

She said, “7” with such certainty, and became upset when I told her that I had secretly thought of the number 6. She had won the rights to the television by virtue of choosing a number closer than her sister chose but it didn’t seem to matter – I was supposed to choose Chase Headley’s number! Simple exchanges of dialogue are often one of the best parts of parenthood.

I am proud that my daughter knows Chase Headley’s number. But I have to be honest and tell you that this is not something I taught her. I have developed no game of Memory* to help her learn minutiae about the different Padres on the 25-Man Roster. She possesses this knowledge through her own powers of observation. She has absorbed bits and pieces of information, cataloging them in her malleable mind, while rearranging Padres bobbleheads on the shelf in her bookcase. Consequently, Chase Headley has become something tangible for her young mind. She knows Chase Headley therefore she likes Chase Headley – all because the Padres gave away a  bobblehead at a game she attended last season. Things are awesomely simple as a child.

* This isn’t entirely true. I have conceptualized a game of Memory using stacks of collected Blue Prints but production halted in late 2012.

Collectible trinkets such as bobbleheads are great recruiting tools for the young fan. They create buy-in and a certain level of attachment, each essential  components of fandom. This attachment must be cultivated and it must be real so they truly experience the inevitable despair that accompanies seeing their favorite player shipped off to a region of the country that doesn’t pronounce the letter R. But let’s not put the cart before the horse – to break a kid’s heart you must possess it first.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to Chase Headley. He may be sent packing during the coming weeks or he could leave as part of a crazy trade-deadline package deal next summer – or he may even sign the richest contract ever inked by a Padres player. While these scenarios remain a mystery in the short term I can only relay what I know now: my daughter’s favorite player is Chase Headley because of a bobblehead give-away. As an organization the Padres shouldn’t discount the power of that statement.

Today is  my daughter’s birthday. Coincidentally, she’s now 7.


I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly outraged by the location of statues around Petco Park. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM. The dusty archives of AJM are located at

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  • USMC53

    Nice post. My son turned 3 during this last baseball season, and he basically understands that we in the USMC53 family are Padres fans, but at this point he thinks that’s because the Padres are the “nicest.” (Whatever works.) I look forward to continuing to cultivate his fandom as he grows, so it’s good to know that taking him to Petco on bobblehead nights is a good way to get a lot of bang for the buck.
    (Hopefully there will be 5 or 6 more years in which the Padres will be able to schedule a Chase Headley bobblehead night. We’ll see.)

  • Geoff Hancock

    I have nothing constructive to add. Simply want to say this was an enjoyable read. And makes me look forward to having these conversations with my own daughter in the coming years.