Read, Write, Run, Roam

Explaining Baseball to Serbians: a how not-to guide

Image source: East Coast Baseball Academy

Last night, Muž and I entertained some of his Serbian colleagues who were visiting Washington, D.C. It was their first trip to America, and we were excited to return some of the hospitality we received abroad. However, this was an organized bunch. In the few days before we saw them, they experienced much of what DC has to offer:   they had seen the monuments, gone to the museums, been ripped off by a taxi driver. What else was there? We were stumped.


Then it hit us like a fly ball:  what’s more American than a baseball game?

We bought some nosebleed, er, “scenic” Nationals tickets, sat down, and started discussing the rules. I always thought baseball was a pretty simple game. Until I tried to explain it.

“Three strikes is an out. Unless it’s a foul ball, because you can’t strike out on a foul ball. Unless it’s a foul tip …” You get the idea. Muž was better at explaining the basics. We bought hot dogs and beer (naturally) but we did not have Cracker Jacks, because let’s face it: Cracker Jacks are vile.

After a few innings, we settled into that special baseball lull that comes with processed meat, beer, and prolonged sitting. “It’s a peaceful game,” one guest remarked. Compared to a European soccer game? Apsolutno.

Euro football is more...heated

Until the fourth inning, that is. Serbian soccer might have flares and ultrafans, but D.C. baseball has the President’s Race. Plush costumes of four iconic presidents race each other around the field. The crowd goes wild, chanting for President (Teddy) Roosevelt, who has never won a race.


When you think about it–much less try to explain it–this is pretty weird. Stuffed replicas of dead presidents compete in a foot race for our general amusement. I can’t imagine this happening in other countries.  Our guests were bewildered. Then they were amused. Then, of course, they posed for a photo with Teddy.

We sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and celebrated a Nationals win. Though it was a most American evening, we ended it Serbian-style: by piling our five guests in a compact car to drive them to their hotel. I think we left them confused about the game, but without a doubt that we were happy to show them a bit of our home.


5 responses

  1. C

    Just for the record you LOVED Cracker Jacks when you were a child.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:01 am

  2. Anonymous

    Really great piece – thanks for capturing in not so many words the magic of baseball!

    April 19, 2012 at 4:24 am

  3. Zdravo!
    You are back!! Hope you are doing great in DC! It’s a crazy stuff explaining baseball to someone who’s never seen it before. I guess European football is easier to digest!
    Do you remember you mentioned Serbian football in one of your post in the past. I’ve heard that’s gonna be a football match between Partizan and Crvena Zvezda soon if I’m not mistaken. Can you imagine streets of BG before and after this?

    April 19, 2012 at 10:46 am

  4. Hi there! If I remember correctly, the streets were filled with police in riot gear the last time they played each other. Crazy! Baseball fever is nothing compared to football mania…

    April 19, 2012 at 9:08 pm

  5. I know. I’m not sure if they got worse or my tastes improved. Probably a mix of both. Plus, the prizes are now awful.

    April 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm

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