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Wally the Green Monster


July 13, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

I don't think I've ever witnessed (in person) anything sillier than the San Diego Padre friar mascot, unless it was the San Diego Padre friar mascot's dad.

Yes, a couple of weeks back when I took my father out to the old ballpark to celebrate Father's Day we were treated to not just the friar, but the friar's pops.

Then, this past Sunday, my wife and I took a trip to the Q and, while the friar's dad wasn't around, the friar was there and to make matters worse he was wearing a Hawaiian-print robe!

I will state right now that when it comes to baseball I am a purist (not so fanatical that I won't watch games played on artificial turf like a friend of mine, but a purist just the same). When I go to a baseball game I like the action on the field and don't really need anything else (i.e., friars and their fathers) to hold my attention. Unfortunately for me, I seem to be the exception to the rule in Southern California.


After living here for the past five years and attending many a baseball game, it has become apparent to me that the average So Cal baseball fan needs more than just the game to keep them entertained.

Could someone please explain this strange phenomenon to me? Why is there an arcade at Edison Field in Anaheim? Why do the Padres have cheerleaders? Why do the Dodgers exist?

Okay, no one has to answer that last question. I know the Dodgers are a cruel joke, sent to remind us all that World Series titles are won, not purchased. But could someone solve those other puzzles for me? Because with each bounce of the beach ball that results in a loud cheer, I become more confused.

What's this about beach balls, you might wonder? Well, I'll tell you. Numerous times, at games I've attended in So Cal, I have noticed that there is more applause for a beach ball bouncing around the stands than there ever is for any of the players or anything happening on the field. This, of course, begs the question — if they sold tickets to watch people play with beach balls would people actually pay for them? I'm figuring yes, at least if they were "baseball" fans from Southern California.

I know not all fans are like this. And don't think I'm focusing all my wrath on the Padres either. No, most of the beach ball idiocy I have seen has occurred in Anaheim. Edison Field is home to the dumbest, most non-caring fans I have ever seen. In fact, each time I have watched a game there I have found that more people are actually cheering for the opposing team than rooting for the Angels. I guess all of the Angel fans are too busy playing video games or re-inflating their multi-colored balls to give a damn about what is happening in the game they have paid to get into.

If you've never been to a game outside of So Cal, then you are missing a lot and if you think this is the way it is in all stadiums, then you are sorely mistaken. To illustrate my point, let me tell you the story of Wally the Green Monster.

Wally was the brainchild of some Boston Red Sox marketing whiz, who thought the big green guy, who looked sort of like the Phillie Phanatic, would appeal to children.

Wally made his Fenway debut a couple years ago and while I'm sure the kids loved him, he was loathed by the Fenway faithful. Beers and obscenities were constantly hurled at Wally and after less than a week of service, he was retired. The only reminder of Wally is the plush toy you can purchase for your baby on the Red Sox Web site. You see, Wally was simply a distraction, he was taking attention away from what was really important — the game, and the Boston baseball fans were quick to realize this and run Wally out on a rail.

Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating attacking the friar. Nor do I wish anyone throw beer at him as that might stain his snappy-looking Hawaiian-print robe. But next time those girls in the too-short shorts fire a T-shirt from their giant sling-shot at you during the seventh inning stretch, don't work so hard to catch it. And if you do happen to land one, maybe you should think about throwing it back at them. In doing so you would strike a blow for the integrity of the game and besides, you need both your hands for the next time that beach ball comes around.

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