Stitch N'Pitch melds two traditions
Indians fans bring their needles to the park for event
CLEVELAND -- Terri Swisher and her 12-year-old daughter, Loren, are looking forward to autumn.
And not just because they expect their favorite team to be locked in a pennant race. That's when the cover of blankets will allow the two Tribe fans to secretly take part in their other favorite pastime: knitting.
Not that there can't be a mid-season exception. Last month, the Swishers were part of the some 250 needle-wielding fans gathered in Jacobs Field's right-field mezzanine for Stitch N'Pitch night.
"This makes it legal for us to knit," Terri said with a laugh.
On one of 23 Stitch N'Pitch days scheduled across the Majors this year, nearly all of section 307 had their hands busy. They knitted, crocheted, cross-stitched, needle-pointed, and most importantly, had fun.
It's a hobby that's growing across baseball. After the Seattle Mariners drew 1,600 people at a knitting day in 2005, similar events took off.
Stitch N'Pitch days were held at 11 big-league parks last year, and the number has more than doubled this season. At Jacobs Field alone, attendance this year was up 150 fans from last summer's event.
"Baseball is an American tradition, and needle arts is an American tradition," said Patty Parrish, the executive director of the National Needle Association. "So we're just bringing the two together."
That hasn't been difficult. Many local shop owners have come to realize that plenty of their customers follow the Tribe.
"And I mean hardcore," Parrish said.
For the Swishers, a normal night at home would find the mother-daughter tandem navigating their needles in front of an Indians game on the tube.
"To do something that you'd be doing anyway, but here, it's awesome," Loren said. "Watching something that you love makes it great."
It was the same natural fit for Peggy Strang, owner of French Creek Fiber Arts in Avon.
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"It's just great to be sitting here with my knitting buddies," she said. "Seeing everyone smiling is wonderful. The one thing about knitting is that it gives instant friendship."
Well, there's one other thing, too.
"It makes the losses a lot easier to take," said Erica Kuntz, of Cleveland.
"Because even if the Indians didn't accomplish anything," Strang said with a laugh, "we did."
David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.