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On the Road with Senor Sock!
A Sock Sox report from Anaheim

by Senor Sock  

 

 

There’s nothing like seeing a baseball game in Chicago, preferably on the South Side. However it is interesting to see how the other half lives and occasionally watch a game on the road. I’ve seen the White Sox play in Milwaukee, Kansas City, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. One of the most enjoyable places to see a game is “the Big A” home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

The fourth oldest active baseball park (behind only Fenway, Wrigley and Dodger Stadium) Anaheim Stadium was opened in 1966 and has been known as “The Big A” and “Edison International Field” though now its Angel Stadium at Anaheim. The first game I saw there was in 1979. Ralph Garr led off the game for the Sox with a base hit. On impulse I cheered loudly, unfortunately alerting Angel fans that there was an outsider in their midst. In old Comiskey that of course could be fatal. But in Anaheim most of the fans were cool with it…except for one nasty little kid who gave me the business for the next 8 innings. He was aided by the fact Nolan Ryan was pitching and we didn’t get another hit until the 9th. That kid grew up to be Jack Black. 

The park has been renovated twice since then, adding an outfield upper deck that circled the entire stadium in 1980 in order to add 22,000 seats for football and expand seating to 67,335. This was particularly useless for the Long Beach 49ers football team, which regularly drew between 1,000-1,500 for their games. As Harry Caray used to say back in the 1970’s on channel 44, “Plenty of good seats are still available”. The LA Rams played there for 15 years before fleeing for St. Louis. When Rams left, Disney bought the park from cowboy star Gene Autry in the mid-1990’s and tore down the dull, mostly ugly upper deck and reduced available seating to 45,054. The Disney imaginers came in and redesigned the park, adding a waterfall and geysers in the midst of a fake rock setting in center field (think Disneyland’s “Grand Thunder Mountain”)  to impress chicks while lulling opposing teams into relaxing to make them easier to defeat. Fireworks are shot out from this area at the beginning of games, after home runs and after every Angel victory. They added sandstone color to the gray concrete walls and painted all the trim dark green. The orange seats were replaced with green ones. They added an arch of giant bats to the main entrance and created some shade from the summer sun by adding two giant Angel caps (size 649 ˝) for fans to stand under. They changed it from a stadium to a ballpark. It is much improved.  

During BP the stadium is quite fan friendly and allows fans to come close to the wall to take pictures of the players and try to get autographs. The Cuban Missile was especially eager to please the local fans  or perhaps he just wanted a closer look at Senor Sock, it’s hard to say which. 

Just before the game begins the Angels show a video of Angel history accompanied by the song “Calling all Angels”.  The national anthem is sung by a guest singer and the music between innings is usually prerecorded cues (you can’t beat Nancy Faust so why try and compete?) 

When the game starts, generally Angel fans pay attention. They boo AJ good naturedly (I think some aren’t even quite sure why) as well as visiting Sox fans who are lucky enough to catch a foul ball.  

For the most part Angel fans are friendly and good natured. You won’t get food thrown at you or threatened for cheering for your team. Unfortunately, like Dodger fans (who are foul mouthed and like Cub fans, not very baseball knowledgable) they have a limited attention span and have a nasty habit of smacking beach balls around in the stands during the games. I was amazed the first time I saw this. They break out the beach balls in nailbiters as well as blowouts. Last Wednesday I counted five beach balls as Gavin Floyd battled Jared Weaver in a very close game. I guess Southern California fans may not care much about their teams, but at least they’ve got balls. 

The Angel experience is also superior to going to a Dodger game in that in Anaheim they sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” just once. That’s right, during seventh inning stretches the Dodgers sing it twice, clearly indicating a lack of imagination. In both Anaheim and Los Angeles they substitute “Angels” and “Dodgers” for home team, a practice the late Harry Caray pioneered at Old Comiskey Park back in the 1970’s.  

Having had to put up with Ribbie and Rhubarb in Chicago, I’ve never been very fond of mascots, but the Angels have a good one. They have the Rally Monkey. He’s played by the little monkey Ross used to have on “Friends”. Clever video producers for the Angels put the monkey in movie trailers and music videos (like Spaceballs” or "Jaws") the best of which is probably “Bohemian Rhapsody” (sorry, couldn’t find it online). They are almost always very funny. The monkey is certainly a huge improvement from the weird animated hands graphic they used to show clapping to try and get the crowd going. 

Ticket prices at Anaheim range from $12 for upper view tickets and $14 for Family area (no beers, no bad language, no halter tops) in the left field stands ($5 for kids) to $200 for diamond MVP seats. You can often get a discount using your triple A card or by checking the team website. Except for heavily hyped games or promotional days (caps, bobble heads and kids backpack giveaways are the most popular since bat day disappeared) good seats are generally available depending on where you want to sit and how much you can afford to pay. Parking is a reasonable $8 and free street parking is available if you don’t mind walking a bit (an advantage though is you avoid the traffic jams inside the lot after games). 

I’ve seen a lot of Sox games in Anaheim over the years. 

I saw Greg Luzinski hit two home runs to help Britt Burns beat Ken Forsch and the Angels in 1981. 

I’ve seen Tom Seaver, Jerry Kooseman, Floyd Bannister win, Jamie Navarro lose and an extra inning doubleheader where the fans chanted “Daryl…Daryl” to Daryl Boston. 

I was there September 19th, 1986 when Joe Cowley pitched one of the sloppiest no-hitters in history, walking seven. Cowley walked three in the 6th and went 3-1 on Reggie Jackson and was one pitch away from being yanked when  Jackson hit a sacrifice fly to get the Angels their only run. The Sox won 7-1. Cowley never won another game in the majors again. 

I saw Kenny Williams hit a home run and Frank Thomas on his first road trip wearing number 15 before getting his number 35.  

I saw the Sox spank the Angels 15-1 on August 8, 2001. 

Unfortunately I missed Monday’s 17-3 blowout and went to the Sox 3-1 loss on Wednesday, but it was a good game. Floyd’s change up and fastball were working well, though he bounced in just about every curve he threw. However Jared Weaver was even better, using a nasty change up to strike out 8 while limiting the Sox to just one run. The Angels took the lead in the 6th and the rally monkey didn’t even have to show up.  

But it was a good game and I didn’t mind that much. Especially since I was also there October  16th, 2005. That alone makes Anaheim one of my favorite parks to visit.  

(photo credit to Megan Fox)


 

 

 

 

Editor's Note:  An idol in his native Argentina, Senor Sock became the toast of the entertainment world while a regular on E! Entertainment Television's Emmy-award winning "Talk Soup". He has been romantically linked to many of the world's most beautiful women, including Suzanne Somers, Monica Bellucci, Donna D'Errico, Halle Berry and Peri Gelpin. Visit his NEW WEBSITE at http://sockfilmreviews.bravehost.com.   He is of course, a lifelong White Sox fan.
 

 

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