Grateful Dead Concerts Are Like Baseball Games 

by David Gans


The following is the text of my famous Baseball Analogy as it appeared in The Official Book of the Deadheads (Grushkin-Bassett-Grushkin, Quill, 1983). It was modified somewhat from the text I submitted, and if I ever find the original I will replace this with that. -- D.G.


Grateful Dead concerts are like baseball games: no two are ever alike. The plays are always different, and there's always fresh hope. Sometimes the game's an all-timer even though individual performances are sloppy; sometimes everybody plays great but the team loses anyway.

Some people thrive on yesterday's moments, and aren't too keen on the way the game's played today. Some have only been fans since last year and don't care what happened way back when. You can cherish the great victories and triumphant seasons and chart them across decades, or you can go simply for the enjoyment of tonight and to hell with the standings. Like all the great teams, the Dead have their pennant years and bleak innings, perfect games and whippings, hits and foul balls, heroes and goats.

To many they're an institution, to some mere child's play, and to others the Grateful Dead is more or less an indispensable part of life. There are those who say the game's too slow, that the brief moments of action and excitement are too few and far between. Like "America's Favorite Pastime," the Dead are both celebrated and criticized, and some people will never see what's to enjoy.

Like big-league fans, Deadheads are as varied as the game is long. There are scorekeepers who record every detail for statistical analysis and a place in the Hall of Fame; camera buffs and video freaks; armchair umpires, die-hards, groupies. Some are bleacher bums who'd be in the stands no matter who was playing; and there are even spousal fans who go because if they didn't, they'd be left home alone. A lot of people attend because they've always gone and really don't care to stop.

It may take a few visits to grasp the subtleties, but if you let yourself into the flow of things, there's something to enjoy from the very first moment you're there. As the old saying goes, the mind believes what the mind believes: Grateful Dead is cerebral if you choose to analyze it, but it's basic and instinctive too. Like the game of baseball.


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