Friday, February 11, 2011

Grabbing Some Pine

Back in the late 80's, the left field bleachers at the Oakland Coliseum were old school.  Wooden benches with something resembling seat numbers stamped into them.  Bench edges and corners were worn.  Those benches were installed in the late 60's after all.  The lower half of the bleacher sections not next to the foul poles were portable and rectangular.  The bleachers formed the curve of the outfield fence, meaning that the sections could come together in a straight line across the outfield parallel to a football sideline.

The benches were for the most part made of hard wood.  No duh, but at that time, there were no alternatives like aluminum, or form-fitted plastic molded seat bottoms arranged in benches.  None of that.  Just wood.  Wood that split, wood that cracked, wood that, well, did whatever wood did.  One piece of wood out there, wood that formed our front row bleacher bench, had a knot in it.  And the wood around that knot deteriorated over time, causing a large split in the bench.  Soon, fans with pens and other objects started digging and gouging around that knot, making a small dent each homestand.  One day, the digging broke daylight through to the bottom of the bench.  And it continued over time so that not much was left holding that bench together.  Maybe the knot was the glue that kept the bench intact.

One fateful day, the Royals were in town, and we were there during batting practice.  Bo Jackson hit a big fly that eluded the faithful shaggers, and lo and behold, the ball hit that knot in the bench square...or as square as a falling fly can be square.  In the same action as the ball hitting the knot, the knot popped through and the piece of wood that was hanging by a single strand of wood fell to the bleacher floor.  It was about six inches wide by about 24 inches long.  Nevermind the Bo Jackson souvenir, I pounced upon the fragment of booty support I came to love all those years.  Yes, a hunk of wood was as good a souvenir as any ball.  The underside was kind of gross, and some kid I'm guessing was the one who stashed his wad of gum underneath it as if he were avoiding the wrath of ruler bearing school teachers.  I really need to post a photo of this hunk of history.

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