Whether you have already gotten some lineup cards, or hope to get your first, here are five tricks to help you:
5. Do Your Homework
While luck plays a big role in getting a lineup card, you can tilt the odds in your favor by doing some homework beforehand. For example:
- Generally, it is the manager who gives away the lineup card, so make sure you know the manager’s name, uniform number and ideally what he looks like.
- Is anyone else going after one or both of the lineup cards? The more games you go to at a particular ballpark, the more likely you’ll know who, if anyone, is your competition. For example, at the stadium we normally go to, there is a boy who more often than not is at the game and going after a lineup card. If we see him at the game, once we figure out which dugout he plans to target, we usually go to the other dugout.
4. When to Ask
You can’t physically get the lineup card until after the game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask to get them before the game. We tried this – asking the manager/coach if he would give us the lineup card after the game – three times during the 2015 season and it worked all three times. If the manager/coach says no, perhaps because he doesn’t give away his lineup card or has already promised it to someone else. At least you know not to bother trying to get his lineup card after the game.
3. Don’t Take “No” for an Answer
Just because someone in the dugout says no to you when you ask for the lineup card doesn’t mean you should automatically give up. A couple of scenarios:
- If they tell you they already gave away the dugout lineup card, you can ask them for the official batting order that the managers trade before the game. Those aren’t as nice as the dugout lineup card, but are better than walking away empty handed.
- If they say no without explanation but the lineup card is still hanging up, or if they just ignore you, wait until someone else comes by and ask them. In some cases, we have had to wait until a member of the grounds crew or other stadium personnel came into or near the dugout and ask that person for the lineup card.
2. Speak Up but Use Your Manners
I’ve found that at least in some cases, the manager will give the lineup card to whoever asks for it first. So even if you are in the right spot at the right time, it is important to ask for the lineup card as soon as the manager gets near where the lineup card is. I lost at least one lineup card last season because someone asked for it before I did even though I was in a better spot to get it.
Also, being polite can only help your chances. Keep in mind that if you are going after the losing team’s dugout, that team’s manager/coaches/players probably will not be in a good mood.
1. Timing & Location
Timing and Location will play a huge role in whether or not you get a lineup card. Get one right but not the other and you may fail in your effort to get a lineup card.
For starters, know where in the dugout the lineup card is posted. In most dugouts, it is somewhere near the home plate-side of the dugout. But there are instances where the lineup card may be elsewhere in the dugout. For example, at a New Hampshire Fisher Cats @ Portland Sea Dogs game in 2015, the Fisher Cats kept their lineup card on the outfield side of the dugout, rather than the infield side.
Once you know where to go, get to a spot near where the lineup card is posted, and ideally where you can see the manager, coach or player near it and ask them for the lineup card. Ideally, find a seat near the dugout for the final inning so you don’t have to waste much time getting to the best spot to ask for the lineup card. As soon as the final out is being made, hustle to that spot. Generally, there will be a few kids (and sometimes adults) heading to the dugout after the game, but they usually are looking for baseballs, autographs or broken bats.
Keep in mind that the losing team will usually leave the dugout quickly to head to the locker room, so even if there are few people near their dugout, you still need to get to the dugout quickly before they take off. The winning team will usually go out onto the field for a quick celebration. The best time to ask the winning manager for the lineup card is as he is coming back into the dugout.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a lineup card at a particular game. Try to learn what you need to do better next time and keep trying!