Family night at the Coliseum – 9th inning drama to down the Red Sox, capped with a fireworks display viewed from the playing field…
I suppose it’s jealousy, but only to a certain degree.
Oakland fans and Boston fans: 2 distinctive breeds. For a variety of reasons, the Oakland A’s draw the largest crowds when three teams are in town: the Giants, Yankees and Red Sox, and at times, it might seem like there are equal numbers in attendance rooting for the visitors. I don’t remember it always being this way.
The Giants have strung together some pretty good seasons recently, the preseason Bay Bridge series has always been fun to watch from both sides of the water, same true of interleague play. The Yankees and Sox draw for different reasons: history, tradition, and fierce loyalty among them. They play in storied ballparks that are tucked into neighborhoods, the average baseball fan’s consciousness can easily conjure visions of the façade at Yankee Stadium, or the green monster at Fenway. So many iconic and defining moments have taken place there – I clearly suffer from ballpark envy. But I have my own set of iconic memories that took place on our field. Hey, it ain’t beautiful, but it’s our home.
The A’s just finished playing a series against the Red Sox, my family was in attendance for the July 3 game that featured fireworks afterward. It wasn’t quite a last minute decision, but without really planning in advance for it, we got tickets, gathered up some snacks, and found ourselves sitting in the 2nd deck near the left field foul pole. The stadium was at far less than full capacity when Coco Crisp led off the bottom of the first with a home run to stake the A’s to a 1-0 lead. People eventually found their seats, and as the sections filled up, it was easy to make note of the number of Boston faithful that were in our presence.
I like to think of myself as fairly thick skinned, but there just happened to be a few people sitting in our section who pushed my buttons. I suppose it was a source of motivation to root more vigorously for my A’s, as I found myself shouting out a coarser-than-usual “SIT DOWN” or “GOT HIM” whenever a good defensive play retired a Red Sox batter.
Let’s start with ponytail mom. Sitting 3 rows in front of us, she has the look of a well-heeled suburban soccer mom in her 40s, married to a mid-level executive, blond ponytail bouncing from underneath her weathered Red Sox cap. But what’s this? Her husband and 4 kids all have identical equally weathered caps, as though they were bought that way. OK, I own pre-faded jeans, my bad for pointing this out. What’s bothersome is seeing her jump up to celebrate a Boston batter reaching base. Sorry, but save your jumping up and down for a hard hit double in the gap, not for reaching on an error by the second baseman. I didn’t hear exactly what she was saying, but I imagine it as “Oh yay! He did something good!”
Next is Mr. Encyclopedia, who, for 2 innings sat in the row right in front of me. Fairly or unfairly, he fulfilled my own stereotype of the typical Boston fan. Wearing a Pedro Martinez replica jersey, he had a nervous energy and intense demeanor, fidgeting in his seat, rocking from side to side as he professed as to how Jon Lester would pitch successfully against Oakland hitters (pretty decent night for Lester, unless of course, you count the leadoff homer), or how Dustin Pedroia was going to rifle one into the gap (he didn’t). Clearly a smart guy, more that once I heard him recite a player’s statistic, my guess is he’s in multiple fantasy leagues. Good for you, Skippy. When Pedroia was called out on a close play at first base to end an inning, I put a little more behind my shout of “OUCH”. There go your stats.
Sitting next to Mr. Encyclopedia is yuppie girl. I had little problem tuning her out, but I did catch enough of her conversation (hey, she was sitting almost directly in front of me, I’m just trying to watch the game, OK?) about the great Boston neighborhoods she’d lived in back in the day. “You just don’t find that out here.” Thank you for the brilliant observation. You’re in California now for what reason? Be gone.
We talked about our strategy for going onto the field to watch fireworks after the game. The line forms from the first deck in the left field corner, just below our section. To land the choicest plot on the outfield grass, Nat and I decided to get in the front of the line and give cuts to Mary Ann and Eric whenever they arrived, so we headed down in the 8th inning. 3 television monitors are visible from the corridor where people are lining up, and although we couldn’t see in detail, as the fireworks line grew, we saw the events that led up to the A’s stunning comeback and victory. Joy. Elation. High fives. Hoarse voice. Before the winning run crossed the plate in the bottom of the 9th, a number of Boston fans, seemingly craving attention, would parade past the growing gathering of A’s fans, holding up their caps, so proud of their 1 run lead and expected victory, whereupon they were subjected to a chorus of booing, hand gestures, and profanity. Excuse me, but your gloating is about to come to an end.
I don’t dislike the Red Sox, honestly. There was a time when I really hated them, but I got over it long ago, probably when Dave Stewart went about OWNING Roger Clemens in truly meaningful games. I do admire their fans’ zeal, just not in OUR house.
Coming back to my memory are some other sweeps over the Sox. A couple times in the playoffs (1988, 1990), and a stunning sweep at the Coliseum that wrested the wildcard lead from Boston in August of 2001. I took an “extended lunch break” from work that day to soak in the victory under ideal bay area baseball weather conditions.
Natalie, member of the class of 2012
Got to hand it to them, my brother Mark and his wife Suzanne throw a mean party. These photos are mainly from the band’s perspective…
Our anniversary falls on the same day as Lester’s birthday, so in his honor…
As I entered my driveway after a day at work, I saw Lester jump up from a laying down position near the fence, tail wagging wildly. I knew he had jumped the fence again, but before I could scold him, a stranger approached me from from across the street.
“Yeah, anything the matter?” I’d never seen this guy before, and I briefly tried to guess what he wanted. Maybe Lester knocked his kid over while playing. There were a few neighborhood kids not intimidated by his size that would come over and ask to walk him up and down Oak Street. Maybe he saw Lester chase a cat; sure there were a few instances of that, but that’s another story. I’m ready to hear what this guy has to say.
Right away he starts in. “It was just like Lassie or Rin Tin Tin or something man. See my car over there?” He pointed to a white sedan near the corner of Grove Way. “It was about an hour and a half ago. I was working, laying on the ground below it, wrenching, you know, when I hear your dog come over. He comes over and sniffs my leg then kind of lets out a whimper and a bark. I saw he was friendly so I got up and began to pet him. I thought at first that he wanted to play. Then he gently tugged at my sleeve like he wanted me to follow him over here. Well I did, and when I got over here, I saw some little poodle kind of dog at the bottom of your driveway, laying still on its side and bleeding. Your dog looked at me and barked loudly a couple of times. So I went to your next door neighbor’s house and told them to call animal control.”
As it turns out, the dog got hit by a car right in front of my house and managed to limp to the side of the road. There was a small blood stain that led a few feet up my driveway. The guy told me that Lester must have sensed the dog in distress, jumped the fence and summoned help.
The tags on the dog were traced and identified its owner as the Sultan of Brunei. The dog was airlifted (using the vacant lot across the street as an impromptu heliport) to UC Davis, where doctors said had he lay bleeding another minute there he would have surely perished. The Sulltan later contacted me and invited me to stay at his palace for a while, but I had a ball game that Wednesday night and I politely turned down his invitation.
believe it… or not?
Our gig coincided with a partial solar eclipse. We had a great crown this particular day.
My little league pitching career came to a screeching halt when, at 12 years old, I could no longer find the strike zone. Fortunately for my team, we had other arms to take my place, and I settled in behind home plate. I relished being a catcher, and from their earliest playing days, I tried to impress upon my kids how gratifying it could be. It also helps to be on a team where there is quality pitching. Natalie finally tried it out in a game against OMI at Bates field. She found out what I’d known all along.
Thanks to Dick Atkinson for the photos
It’s been 30 some years since I saw Sammy Hagar play. If I recall, it was a new years eve show at the Cow Palace, but there’s a good chance my recollection of the date and venue are off by years, miles, or both.
I got an email recently from the manager at the Cabo Wabo Cantina in South Shore Tahoe, one thing led to another, now Trivalve will be heading up there to play 2 dates for the launch of Sammy’s most recent distilled product, Beach Bar Rum. If you’re in Tahoe on May 4 (Friday) or May 5, come on out to our show, we’re hoping to do a shot or 2 with Sammy himself!
Couldn’t finish this piece without giving props to Ronnie Montrose, R.I.P. I clearly remember seeing Gamma play at Justin Herman Plaza right around 1980, that much I’m sure of.
we played Whole Lotta Love with Sammy, cousins Cher & Ed showed up, along with Sammy Rose & family
(Listen) Last time I played in something like this was back in ’79 (whew). Ferenc of Pollo del Mar and DJ Cousin Mary of KFJC lined this one up and all the bands knocked it way out of the (menlo) park. If you couldn’t be at the British Bankers Club in person or listen to the live broadcast, we have 3 songs from the event posted at http://trivalvesurf.com/2011/05/16/live-tracks-from-the-kfjc-battle-of-the-surfin-bands/ Enjoy!
The first year my daughter was on the roster of a tournament team, she was 9 years old and only saw garbage time on a team that won just 1 or 2 games all summer. My friend Mike’s daughter had a similar experience on that same team, our girls represented the younger end of the spectrum and rode a lot of pine. They’re now juniors at rival high schools, although the rivalry is mostly amiable when it comes to softball – CPS has won each of the last 7 matchups dating to their freshman seasons. We see each other at the games, do some friendly razzing and catch up.
The same team has another of Nat’s former teammates, Haley (now a freshman) as their starting pitcher. Nice girl, good athlete, I coached her on 2 summer teams, we’ve known the family for some years. With Natalie pitching in the top of the first, Haley takes one the other way, slugging a long triple over the right fielder’s head. Bottom half of the same inning with Haley on the mound, Natalie sends a bomb way over their centerfielder’s head for an 2 run double. Win-win, I enjoyed seeing both kids having success.