Krukow’s Klubhouse saw policy changes this year regarding access to the seating area at Baggett Stadium.
Jefferson P. Nolan
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In Division I baseball, visiting players know they’re going to have to endure some jeers from the stands. Since the inception of the national pastime, it’s been part of the game.
But during the Cal Poly baseball team’s home stand against Cal State Fullerton last year, Titans third baseman Matt Chapman heard some things that caught him off guard.
A few Cal Poly fans in Krukow’s Klubhouse — an exclusive seating area behind the Mustangs’ third base dugout — had come to the game having done their research.
The fans investigated the players on Cal State Fullerton’s baseball team, and through Facebook, they looked up the names of Chapman’s family members.
Understandably, the Cal Poly players said they love the energy from the crowd, but when a few fans began to yell slurs about the girlfriends and mothers of the opposing players, it was apparent a line had been crossed.
“You hear it at every college baseball game … at least the good ones, where there’s a big crowd,” Cal Poly Athletics Director Don Oberhelman said. “Calling players out by name or calling the players’ mothers, sisters or girlfriends out … It’s OK to be loud, but there is a line that we just aren’t willing to cross.”
Oberhelman met with the offending parties and put the matter to rest.
But following that instance, and for a multitude of reasons, Oberhelman has made a few changes to Krukow’s Klubhouse this season.
Named after former Cal Poly pitcher and current San Francisco Giants announcer Mike Krukow, Krukow’s Klubhouse is labeled as the luxury seating area at Baggett Stadium. With the purchase of season tickets — $850 dollars for two tickets — the designated seating area offers beer, snacks and hot dogs until the middle of the seventh inning.
But in addition to occasional heckling from the crowd, past Krukow’s Klubhouse season ticket holders would sell single game tickets they didn’t want on Craigslist. For Oberhelman, this posed a few issues: After a time, the tickets would eventually pay for themselves, and since it was available to the general public, anyone who wanted could get into the exclusive area.
That includes the fans from opposing teams.
“We were playing Fresno State (last season), and there were six Fresno State fans in there being obnoxious in our premium seating for our most loyal supporters,” Oberhelman said. “That did not make me very happy.”
Now, Cal Poly Athletics has employed a credential system in which the Krukow’s Klubhouse ticket holder must wear their ticket throughout the game.
“People would swap passes,” Oberhelman said. “Three people would go in with three passes, one person would leave with the three passes and bring in two more people.”
With the newly implemented credential system, it will be virtually impossible to sneak into the arena to grab a hot dog, Oberhelman said.
Though it sounds like a challenge, the Cal Poly ticket office now has control of who is admitted into Krukow’s Klubhouse, helping with both security and traffic control.
Head coach Larry Lee and his team don’t worry too much about the crowd adjacent to their dugout, though. Now in his twelfth season at the helm of the Mustangs baseball team, Lee knows when jeers become too much for a family environment.
“We love it when our fans are boisterous … But they obviously need to do it in a positive way and be pro-Cal Poly,” Lee said. “There are things that are fine for fans to say, but there are times where you don’t want to cross the line. You have families in the stadium, and we want to make it enjoyable for the entire fan base.”
Last season, relief pitcher Reed Reilly received his nickname “Big Sexy” from a fan in the Klubhouse after he managed to pitch his way out of a jam.
“To have that energy in the bullpen, it just brings a whole new level to the game,” Reilly said. “Visiting teams are obviously bothered by it. It can go overboard, but it’s cool to have them up there.”
But without tickets being sold on Craigslist, it is possible the VIP seating area will see diminished student population this season; the price tag may be too much for the bargain-hunting college student.
“At Cal Poly, we want to be different,” Oberhelman said. “We want to be a little bit better than other places.”