Friday, September 5, 2008

My First Ballpark Road Trip (1)

Read entire series here.

My first road trip to another ballpark outside the Bay Area came in 1985 as I ventured out on vacation to Anaheim Stadium and then Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. I went south in late August, the week between the end of my summer intern job and the beginning of college classes in the fall. The future Mrs. Scott and I had broken up earlier in the year after dating for two years after the first time we met. We had planned a trip early in the year. I had turned 21 in the spring. She wanted to go to Disneyland, etc., and I wanted to go to baseball. She wasn't a fan yet. I wrote to each team for their schedule, and bought tickets for the late summer trip in advance.

She didn't accompany me on the trip, so I went alone. It was a defining time in my life, my initial adventure as an "adult." I drove south on a Saturday morning, planning on making it to Anaheim (440 miles) by late afternoon so I could see the A's play the Angels. But I was confronted with roadblock number one. Making it through the Grapevine, my car overheated in the mountains on the downhill side heading toward Los Angeles. I was stuck in the desert in 105 degree weather, after pulling off under the freeway to escape the sun. I called for a tow truck. It didn't come. A freelance roadside helper came across me and stopped. He checked under the hood and figured that I blew a radiator hose. For 40 bucks he would drive me to the nearest gas station, get the part, install it and add water to the radiator. Good deal. It took about two hours, setting my schedule back. Just as he fixed it the tow truck driver showed up and was ticked off that I told him I didn't need his services. Anyway, back on the road.

I got to Anaheim I guess about an hour before game time. Seeing the stadium for the first time was an experience. Unlike the Oakland Coliseum, which is sunk into the ground, or Candlestick Park, which is built into the side of a hill, Anaheim Stadium was built up from ground level, so appeared much higher than what I was used to. The colors were so much more pastel as well.

I really had to pee after such a long trip, so I ran in and found a men's room. What I saw in there really blew my mind. My OC culture shock had begun. There was a worker with a spray bottle polishing the urinals. Polishing urinals? What kind of place was this? I mean Candlestick's restrooms were slime pits; places to go get rid of things. Rusty plumbing, troughs full of sunflower seed shells and cigarette butts, paper towel and toilet paper strewn all over the floor, stalls you wouldn't dare sit in. But Anaheim was sparkling clean, like Disneyland, which is only four blocks away. The contrasts were startling to somebody who only knew one way of baseball things. The parking lot had rules against tailgate parties and alcohol! A game without a tailgate party? Were these people communists? But inside, there was a saloon, and you could buy hard liquor by the shot. Go figure.

I walked all around, getting a glimpse of other-worldly ballpark sights, sounds and smells. More in my next post.

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