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Monday, August 3, 2015

At The 'Ol Ball Game

The last leg of our Anaheim Adventures was to enjoy a baseball game at The Big A, now known as Angel Stadium of Anaheim, home of the Los Angeles Angels, better known from my childhood as the California Angels. The Big A comes from the former scoreboard, in the shape of a giant A complete with a halo around the tip. The A has now been moved to the parking lot and no longer functions as the scoreboard, it's still an iconic feature of the stadium environment.The halo still blinks when the Angels win!

The stadium was mainstay of my childhood. The Angels were a relatively new franchise in Southern California so in order to promote the team,  the city had a special program for kids called Jr. Angel Club. For like $2.00 a year you gained entrance into about 15 games which included all of the promotions like bat day, hat day, etc. Additionally, because my dad was a high school Athletic Director and coach, we received 4 general admission passes for every single home game. Our personal physician was also the team Dr. for the Angels and every once in awhile we'd get his seats...right behind home plate! The Stadium was a mere 3 miles from our house so going to the game was just no big deal. Again, like the Disney connections, I had no idea how special it was to go to the ball park for free any time I wanted to!

Additionally, the Stadium is where my dad played both of his championship games when he won the Southern California titles for high school football. So all in all, this site is always going to hold a pretty special place in our lives.

I grew up loving the Angels even though for the most part, they were pretty awful. Still, our loyalty to our home teams runs deep. So when I met Doug, an avowed Minnesota Twins fans, the rivalry was on. While the Twins had had more success than the Angels through the years, Doug still harbors childhood wounds of recalling how the Angels often traded with the Twins, "poaching the best players" (his words, not mine) from his beloved home town team. This means we both loved Rod Carew through the years!

Back in 2002 the Angels finally made a run for the World Series and won! The sweetest leg of that journey was the American League finals when the Twins met the Angels. We were living in Sweden and stayed up well into the night watching the games. It was sweet when the Angels secured their place in the Series. Doug became decidedly disinterested after that.

So when I suggested going to a game, he was his usual bogus self when it comes to baseball. "Why would I go to an Angel game" was his loving response. "Because they are playing the Twins" I retorted. Needless to say, that sealed the deal. Another bonus is that senior tickets prices start when someone turns 55. Thanks Doug for qualifying for reduced price tickets!

Unfortunately the Angels had beaten up on the Twins in the previous 2 games and overall the game was pretty boring with little hitting and scoring and thus the Twins emerged victorious. But it was a great fun to see the park, enjoy the field, and hang out at the 'ol ball game! 

An added bonus was seeing the game with a young woman who grew up at Immanuel and is now living in California. A baseball game is a perfect sporting event for getting caught up with someone as there is much time to chat in the midst of the action. We forgot to take a photo.

The other great thing about the day was meeting up with two others from my dad's coaching days at Foothill high school. Rob was a student at the high school when my dad started there and was quick to join the football crew as a manager and general all around great guy. From that initial encounter a deep and abiding relationship with this special young man emerged and their entire family became dear to us. Rob is also a consummate Angel fan, going to many games a year.

We were able to meet up with Rob and his sister Cindy before the game for lunch at a restaurant owned by another former player where we enjoyed American style (and sized!) burgers. Rob had come to my father's funeral but I had little time to talk with him. It was great to re-connect with this family (their parents have both died) and recall the special way that Rob changed all of our lives. He and Ted shared a truly special relationship and those ties linger even today.
So even though the Angels lost the game, the day was a big win for me.