I still need to go back and write about some of our activities last week on our drive from Langley to Scottsdale, Arizona. In the mean time, I wanted to tell you about our day today (Monday March 17th), a day on which we went to our first-ever spring training baseball game in Tempe, Arizona. We have been to games in Florida over the years (The Grapefruit League), but this was the first time we have been able to get down and see some Cactus League baseball. What a different experience than Florida!
About 11 AM this morning we decided to go to a game and we had 7 different games to choose from, including one night game. All the daytime games start at 1:05 PM and from where we are located, every ballpark is within a 20-35 drive, theoretically.
Our first clue that things were different in Arizona came when we were halfway to Tempe Diablo Stadium, site for the Los Angeles Angels vs. San Francisco Giants game we had chosen to attend. Along the side of Loop101, one of the local 6 lane freeways (great road system here by the way), was a digital mobile sign flashing the message “Cubs game sold out”.
We both went “wow”, and wondered if we were going to experience something similar for the Angels-Giants game. As far as getting to Tempe was concerned, our trusty GPS told us it was a 23 minute drive from “home base”, and we knocked off the first 21 minutes without a hitch. Then we ran into traffic, and I mean heavy traffic. It took us 55 minutes to crawl the last 1.7 km to a parking spot that was a full 12 minute walk away from the stadium. As we entered the parking lot, we asked the attendant if it was always this way, and he said not usually but that the game between these two top teams was a big draw. Even so, for a work-day Monday, he was stunned at the volume of traffic.
We paid our $5 for a spot and walked toward the stadium wondering if there were even going to be any seats available. There was a bevy of scalpers along the way greeting us with “who wants tickets?”, “Who needs a pair”, and so on. We just kept walking toward the stadium intending to see what was available at the ticket window. Just as we got to the window, a man approached me with his wife and two kids in tow, and said “Are you interested in two tickets to the game? We bought 6, but the other couple who were supposed to attend couldn’t make it. They’re $50 seats at the box office, close to home plate, but I’ll sell them to you for $30 each if you’d like them”. Before I could saying anything he added “My family and I will even walk in with you, so you know the tickets are on the level”.
I had no concerns whatsoever after that pitch. Either this was the greatest con in history (man with wife and kids in tow all wearing Angels baseball shirts and hats), or good fortune was smiling on us.
After buying two “Angels red” tee shirts for Mary, a Spring Training pin for her ever-burgeoning collection (#18 on this trip alone in just the first 10 days), and a game day program, we ventured up to the gate with our tickets, and were admitted with no problem. It was as that point we took a closer look at the tickets, and realized just how lucky we actually were. The seats were four rows up behind home plate and if we had been any closer to the action, I could have called the balls and strikes,
I brought my camera with me for the day, and with seats like that, I was liking my chances of getting some great shots. See what you think….
Since it was St. Patrick’s day at the park, the vendors were decked out with various green hats, scarves, tees, and other adornments. The teams even got into the action with the Giants wearing special green hats for the occasion, and the Angels adding a Shamrock to their uniforms for the day.
We had a great day at the ball park. The temperature was 27 Celsius, the sun was shining, the hot dogs were delicious, and the ball-game itself was pretty darned good too! The Angels playing in their spring training home stadium ultimately prevailed 8-7 with a 9th inning walk-off home run by ( I’m not making this up) Kole Calhoun with Shawn O’Malley on base. Two Irish sounding names delivering the “luck of the Irish” to the Angels on St. Patrick’s day. Oh, and just in case they had failed at the plate, the next batter on deck was Grant GREEN! Really!