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In Boston, Red Sox fans celebrated the New England Patriots’ first Super Bowl victory with chants of “Yankees [expletive]!” When Nationals utilityman Mark DeRosa played for the Chicago Cubs, fans often left supportive notes on his car when he was playing well — and, um, critical missives when he wasn’t.

“I’ve never been recognized more [out in public] than in Chicago,” said DeRosa, who has played for seven major league teams. “You know when you’re in a baseball town. The fans know when to cheer, and what they’re cheering for.”

Will Leitch concurs. The New York magazine sportswriter grew up rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals and once lived in the city, widely considered to be the nation’s top baseball town. Last year, he made his first visit to Nationals Park.

Sitting with his parents above the visiting dugout, Mr. Leitch noticed something odd.

“Fans kept walking past us the whole game, back and forth,” he said. “It was the craziest thing. Finally, we figured out that they were going down to the Cardinals’ dugout and asking if they could get [then-St. Louis slugger] Albert Pujols’ autograph. During the game!Like he wasn’t batting or doing anything.” Leitch laughed.

“My dad was morally offended,” he said. “I was more amused. Still, as a baseball fan, you have to know to not do that. I was like, ‘Wow, Washington is new to baseball.’ Maybe they’ll get it in time. They’re not there yet.”