Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Bleacher bum

Watching Eckersley being inducted into the Hall last weekend, then reading the LFR( got me thinking.

I consider myself a baseball fan. Not a fan of stats, I don't know any. Not a fan of players, although I have some favorites, and, even though I have always enjoyed the A's, I don't even think of myself as an “A's fan"- I just love the feel.

I love the feel of baseball. The excitement you feel walking into the stadium- the glare of the sun or the bright lights- the color of the grass (and it must be grass) looking so thick and rich.

The smells and sounds of the game.

But most of all, I love the bleachers. I am convinced that, aside from a bar to lean against, wood was invented for bleachers.

As a kid, I was a bleacher rat. My dad would get free tickets to the Coliseum from work, but usually only 2, or sometimes 4 reserved seats- not enough for a family of 7, not counting the always present 3 or 4 neighbor kids who tagged along.

But that didn’t bother dad- he would pile a dozen or so of us into the battleship of a station wagon that we had and we would head up the freeway between Hayward and Oakland.

When we got there, we would all march up to the bleacher gate, dad holding the few freebie tickets out to the ticket taker, and, looking over to our sad, pitiful faces, plead “help a guy out?” He would then proceed to trade the few reserved tickets for us to all sit in the bleachers.

The ticket takers would always make a fuss about silly rules and regulations, but I always got the feeling that they enjoyed letting us in as much as we enjoyed them doing so.

We were never turned down. Not once.

Once in side it was perfect- sun, green grass, and, years before Crazy George arrived on the scene, there was my dad pounding away on a leather covered wooden drum so loud we would all laugh and pretend it was embarrassing us- until he stopped-then we would beg him to do it again.

Sitting in the bleachers back then was as close as you could get to the field. The home run fence was the first row. We would get there early and catch batting practice homers and, once or twice, get a real game homer ball.

Heckling the opposing outfielders loud enough to get a reaction- at various times we were ignored, cussed at, or flipped off- what more can you ask for? They knew you were there.

The best was getting a wave or nod, or even better, a ball tossed at you from Reggie or Billy North, or later, the best outfield ever of Henderson, Armas & Murphy.

Baseball was, and always will be, about sitting on a wooden bench with you dad.


Blogger wonderbread74 said...

Nothing like baseball to get two buddies to start weeping. This was before the A's started losing playoff games in the first round EVERY year!

7/28/2004 11:08 PM  

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