For those unfamiliar with the phrase, the phrase “take him downtown” refers to a baseball player hitting a home run. It can be yelled by a fan at a ballgame, whether or not the park is located near downtown, and the location of downtown needn’t be over the outfield fence. It should be yelled quite loudly, and as is key with most effective baseball cheers, carrying the phrase over several long moments, with heightened emphasis on particular words or syllables, is critical to success (both for oneself and for one’s team).
So what’s up with “Take Him Downtown?” What’s the magic part on which the main emphasis is to be placed for maximum “bang for the buck”? In the words of many a social commentator during the last several decades, “Get Down!” Yes, down is the word, the key, the boss, the syllable that most will remember when the cheer is complete. take is a good start, a directive, a spur, a call to action. And him, well, it’s not coincidental that it’s the only syllable in the phrase that extends to a mere three letters. It represents the pitcher, the opponent, the person against which the action is being joined. It’s not actually about ridicule (though we’ll revisit that approach in future talks) against “him”; he simply serves as the device to our team’s success. And the team is identified with a town, a city, a municipality. We are exhorting our ballplayer onto feats of glory, deeds of derring-do, acts we’ll relive over and over because they repesent overcoming our fears, and our opponents. This ball will not only be hit hard, it will be hit all the way to downtown!!!
A cheer’s effectiveness is heightened if it catches the attention of fans in the stands. And if it spurs them onto cheers of their own, to joining in the magic, in doing together what no one of us could achieve on our own, so much the better. But, at its core that’s not how the best cheer is directed. The essence of a good cheer is not intrinsically about the fans, the fellow “fanatics” rooting the team on with you. No, a cheer at its most effective is an interteam communication. You’re trying to inspire fellow members of the team. The fan yelling “Take him D-D-D-O-O-O-OW-W-W-N-N-Ntown” is not trying to inspire the other 56,000 — or 56 — in the stands. This fan is the tenth — and for the moments as the pitch travels to the plate the most important — player on the field.
“Fanatics” may be deluded. I’m not sure. But I am sure that’s not what you’ll experience on this site. A great team needs fielders and runners, pitchers who throw with the left and with the right. It needs batters who can hit it a mile with brute force, and wily sorts who can direct the ball to the destination desired. It needs hurlers who can throw the ball 100 times effectively, and specialists who can throw it 10 times perfectly. But it still need one more thing, or it won’t win a game.
It needs you.