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Subject to Change by Rudy Yniguez: It's baseball season. Yippee

April 26, 2002

I have to assume if going to a baseball game is fun, then catching a foul ball — or a home run ball — is better. Catching two during the course of a season would be even better, and three, well …

It's been about 10 years now, but every time a new baseball season rolls around I am reminded of the one year — and only one — that I had season tickets to my favorite team: the Oakland Athletics. Well, not exactly season tickets. They were partial season tickets for 20 games, but what a 20-game run. If you've ever bought tickets like that you probably ended up with seats all over the stadium, as I did. Some were along the first base line and others along the third base line. Both sides were good. In fact, they ended up being great seats.

So there I was, along the first base line when, I think it was a Brewer, pops a ball foul in my general direction. While others were tripping over themselves and others, I calmly stood up, reaching as high as I could with my Rawlings glove, and upon feeling something fall in it, opened the mitt to find the ball inside. Like most others, I raised my glove to the applause of the crowd.


Not more than the very next day I was now along the third base side, ice cream in my right hand, glove on my left. A left-handed batter at the plate — another Brewer if I remember correctly. This time though the ball was a line drive foul into the stands. With racer-like reflexes I stuck my left arm out and directly in front of a woman two seats down, caught the ball. The woman thanked me for not letting the ball hit her.

I didn't notice if I made it on the jumbo screen.

I gave the first ball to the son of a friend of mine who also was at the game, but sitting up with the seagulls. The second ball I kept, and eventually gave it away, also. It's not like an A's fan would have much use for a Brewer's ball except for bragging rights.

Not to be outdone, however, there was a third ball hit my way during the same 20-game series.

While at one game, it was announced that the next day's game would start an hour early. Of course lots of people didn't know, so when the game started the next day, the Oakland stadium was still pretty empty. As luck would have it, a foul ball came my way but looked headed to the upper deck. Nope. Instead it hit the concrete divider and fell into a seating section that was empty except for yours truly. It was a simple task to walk a few yards and pick it up.

Those were the days. Those were the days when the A's still had players like Harold Baines, Mike Bordick (my favorite), atrocious Scott Brosius, Ron Darling, 1992 Cy Young winner and MVP Dennis Eckersley (for whom they played George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers' "Bad to the Bone" each time he came out to close a game), Dave Henderson, Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, Ruben Sierra, Terry Steinbach and Dave Stewart.

The weather always seemed to be fine for A's games. I would drive into Concord from Fairfield and catch BART into Oakland. The stop was at the stadium. Frequently, I would head to a game without tickets, and without fail, would find somebody on the train selling tickets. I remember once, a friend and I headed to a game without tickets, and on the train met a guy selling two seats behind home plate at face value. It always helped to know the seating numbers so when offered tickets you knew where the seats were.

Then there was the earthquake of 1989. As a Northern Californian, I remember it well. I was sitting in my Fairfield apartment waiting for Game 1 of the World Series to start, when suddenly the television went out and the place started moving, including a hanging lamp. I immediately smiled and thought — as I always do during quakes: "Mother Nature at her best."

At the time I was unaware of the large-scale devastation and loss of life that resulted. Fortunately, Fairfield is on bedrock.

Today, living in the Imperial Valley, I don't get to watch the A's much or, for that matter, much baseball at all, what with Dish Network or Adelphia, but I'm hoping to change that. By the time this comes out today, I hope to have cable, along with the baseball package, ordered for my new digs.

Now if only hockey and basketball seasons were over.

As far as the new A's lineup goes, Jason who?

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