If there were any year Pete Seat wouldn’t go to the World Series, 2020 would make sense.
In a season played without fans, nobody would judge the guy with a 14-year Fall Classic attendance streak for sitting one out, right? His travels have taken him to at least one World Series game every year since 2006 in Detroit. Sometimes he’d fly in for the day, get a standing room only ticket and not even worry about a hotel room — he’d go from the game to the airport and head home.
His usual annual routine included mapping out possible World Series scenarios, finding affordable tickets and planning out flight agendas. There’s enough work in going to the World Series as it is. Throw a pandemic on top of it? Yikes.
Or so he thought.
Then MLB made the surprising decision to open up a percentage of tickets in Arlington’s Globe Life Field. They were socially distanced and had to be purchased in pods of four, and getting one, he figured, was going to be just as hard as previous years. If not harder.
But what’s the point of having a streak — whether it’s a World Series streak or a hitting streak — if you’re not going to be challenged once in a while? So the day tickets for the World Series went on sale, Seat (yes, that’s his real name) had five devices queued up trying to order tickets. He had 15-20 friends doing the same.
“You know what they say about the virtual waiting room,” he told Yahoo Sports this week. “You win some and you lose most.”
Well, he won this one. After four minutes of waiting, he had scooped up four tickets to Game 2 of the World Series. He needed to find three friends.
On Wednesday, he hopped on a plane in Indianapolis, where he lives and works as a vice president at a public affairs firm. World Series No. 15, he was coming.
“Neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor pandemic can halt the streak,” he said.
An official excused absence from the commish
Plenty of people around Seat know about the streak. It’s not really something he can keep a secret. He’s quite proud of it. But when baseball started its 2020 season with no fans in the seats, he started getting the same question: What about your streak?
He got a suggestion from a friend: E-mail MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and ask for an excused absence. The Indy 500 offered excused absences to its loyal fans with streaks. But the World Series was totally different. It was a bit of a long shot that the commish would respond too. But what why do we watch sports if not for traditions and streaks? He sent the e-mail.
“If he says I’m good to go without attending,” Seat said, “at least I’ll have peace of mind.”
Not long after, he got a letter in the mail from Major League Baseball. He was giddy. What could it be? A response? Tickets?
It was a letter from Manfred, who said in part:
“We appreciate your commitment to the greatest tradition in sports … While the first neutral-site Fall Classic in modern history will take place in Arlington, Texas, it is impractical to think you will be able to attend. In this scorer’s judgment, your love for the game — and your streak — will remain intact. I am sure you will do everything possible to continue your streak in 2021.”
Seat was amazed.
“It was the first time the streak has been acknowledged in any way by MLB,” he said. “It was nice that it crossed his desk and he took the time to get back to me.”
But soon enough, an excused absence wasn’t going to be enough. MLB announced five days later that fans were going to be allowed in the stadium. Seat thought about the last 14 years. He couldn’t stop now.
“There’s the thrill of maintaining the streak,” he said. “I’ve always been a big fan of tradition and keeping things like that alive. And there’s no better baseball than October baseball and particularly World Series baseball.”
Why the World Series streak is worth it
Why is always one of the most important questions. Why, Pete, are you so committed to this? Why, Pete, do you do all this every year? Especially this year?
The streak originally started because he needed a break from work. He was working in Washington, D.C. at the time, as a staffer in the George W. Bush White House. Detroit wasn’t far. And it just seemed like a good idea.
“This is fun,” he realized. “it’s fun to go and not necessarily have a vested interest. To soak up the atmosphere and cheer with the fans around you.”
The streak continued because Seat is a Cubs fans and he figured it was a good replacement for the Cubs World Series he thought would never come. The Cubs did get there — and so did Seat. That year, the streak definitely visited Wrigley.
These days, now that Seat is a bit older and the streak is a bit more mature, there’s a different why to it all.
“The World Series is the best of baseball and the best of America — and it’s one place where you can always expect the unexpected. I’ve seen Clemens, Schilling, Johnson and Rivera pitch in a single game. I’ve seen Alex Bregman hit a grand slam and Luis Gonzalez bloop a single to center in the bottom of the 9th to win Game 7. I listened to Ray Charles conduct a soundcheck and watched as my former boss, George W. Bush, threw out the first pitch. I first met John McCain at a World Series game and briefly appeared in the background of a Letterman sketch — a dream of mine. And I once even randomly ran into a friend who lives in Saudi Arabia at a game in San Francisco, five years before I sung Baby Shark with 43,888 off-key fans in Washington, D.C. Why else would I spend months tracking flights and tracking teams? Why else would I enlist the volunteer assistance of friends across the country to secure tickets?”
On Wednesday night, Seat entered Game 2 wearing the World Series jacket he wears every year. He also had on a cap from the 2019 World Series. That’s one of his traditions. He buys a cap each year and wears it to the following year’s series.
As the game was about to start, he took in the scene and answered a text about whether the whole journey felt a little sweeter this time around.
“With everything that’s happened this year to all of us. All the uncertainty. All the delayed life events and postponed trips, yes,” he wrote. “This is something special. The excitement is a little subdued. There’s not as much activity on the concourse. But I think we all know we’re part of a crazy moment in the history of Major League Baseball.”
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