Dawn of a New Baseball Season
A new baseball season is upon us, which means spring and warm weather is not far behind. So what does that have to do with a beer locker room celebration? In Toronto, the Blue Jays just so happen to have a new manager this season. Charlie Montoyo, after 18 years as a minor league manager and four as a major league coach with the Tampa Rays, was named Toronto’s manager.
After an opening day extra inning loss to the Detroit Tigers, Montoyo and the Jays took game two of the series with a 6-0 victory. Not many would look at a win on day two of the major league season as a reason for celebration. But afterwards, Montoyo sat in a laundry hamper in the team’s showers, while his players doused him with beer.
“He needed a cold one,” starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker said, “He got about 50, 60 cold ones all at the same time. It was awesome.”
First MLB Win for a Manager
It was the first major league win for the longtime minor league manager, and it definitely meant a lot to him. His players saw it as a reason for celebration and determined a beer shower was appropriate. Montoyo obviously had no problem with it and later appeared at his post game press conference soggy and smelling like alcohol.
No one would deny what this meant to Montoyo after years of struggling just to get to this point. But it does, however, make you think about locker room celebrations in sports and how alcohol plays a part. You see it in all professional sports when a team reaches what they consider a milestone.
Another Way to Celebrate
Some sports more than others take every opportunity to celebrate. Take baseball for example. On the way to a World Series title, a team can have as many as four opportunities for celebrating. Step one is to win their Division title. That gets them a berth in the playoffs where they play the Divisional series round. Should they advance, they play in the American or National League Championship series. Winning that series will send them to the World Series where another celebration may await.
A Drink from Lord Stanley’s Mug
That’s a total of four opportunities for locker room celebrations, and team’s now take advantage of every one. And it’s not just baseball that enjoys a good celebration. In hockey, its long been a tradition for players to drink alcohol out of the Stanley Cup during their locker room celebrations.
Ovechkin’s Summer Shenanagins
Which makes people wonder where did this tradition get started. Well, that’s a little bit tougher to pinpoint. Teams have always celebrated championships, and back in the day it was beer that was typically available in locker rooms. So it goes to figure that beer showers were in place well before modern champagne baths. As early as the mid-1950’s, the Brooklyn Dodgers were shown pouring beer on each other, but nowhere near as wild as today’s celebration.
In fact, champagne was reserved at that time for the post-game dinner and reception and was used primarily for sipping and toasting. Actually, keeping the bubbly on ice for the winning team goes back as far as the 1940’s and 1950’s, but the drink was served mainly for celebratory toasts. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when the drink was splashed around the Pittsburgh Pirates clubhouse after their 1960 championship. The Yankees, Dodgers and Cardinals followed suit in subsequent years.
Now: Like an Orchestra!
But the celebrations have become much more orchestrated in recent years, and the league’s have gone as far as to set guidelines for post-game celebrations. Limiting the amount of champagne bottles to two per player and only allowing a certain brand of beer, are a couple of those guidelines. Also, they have dictated that non-alcoholic beverages be made available for those who choose not to drink.
They’ve also pushed to keep the alcohol and the celebration within the clubhouse walls and not allow it onto the field. But teams routinely flirt with the rules and players have taken to the field to interface with excited fans, spraying them with the bubbly.
It has now become routine that these post-game celebrations will take place after a big win. Clubhouses are fitted with plastic to protect the area, and the alcohol, both beer and champagne, are laid out ahead of the team entering the room. In addition, goggles are available to protect the eyes from burning and from flying corks, and also provide an added flare to the festivities.
The Media Get Involved Too!
And not just players get involved in the action. Reporters, cameramen and even team executives are not immune from getting doused and become an active part of the celebration. All of this adds to the fun of the moment and most non-players have no problem with it.
Some would question the message teams are sending to fans that it is always alcohol that is used in these celebrations. However, in the majority of cases, more of the alcohol is sprayed on teammates than is consumed, and players look at is as more of a tradition than anything. In fact, adding the beer or champagne to the celebration is a way to make it seem extra special.
Who can forget Kawaski?
Although leagues have tried to regulate it in the past, beer has been a pretty common fixture in professional clubhouses for quite some time. And with champagne, the evolution from celebrating by sipping a glass of the bubbly to spraying it, has simply evolved over time.
Women’s professional locker rooms have also joined the celebration. WNBA champions in recent years have also used champagne after winning the championship in much the same manner as their male counterparts.
The bottom line is that winning a championship or reaching a key milestone is a major accomplishment. Players and teams want the celebration to be special, and use the alcohol as a way to make it that way. So the next time you see a locker room celebration, I’m pretty sure you’ll know just what to expect.