TOYS AND GAMES: Ballpark Circus
The circus comes to mind when I take a good look around the ballparks I visit. No, there aren’t any fire eaters, bearded ladies, elephants or tigers, but there are a host of odd and interesting characters.
The lady who once worked at the Oakland Coliseum. She would greet you when you got off the elevator to see if you had the proper credential to be in the press box. Initially I thought her act to be obnoxious. Then a colleague passed on a story about former Major Leaguer David Justice trying to get into the Coliseum press box without his credential.
Justice was serving as the color man for a broadcast at the time and the lady asked for his credential. Remember, Oakland had been one of the stops during Justice’s 14-year major-league career, and this lady was not shy about letting anyone know what a fan she was of the team. Nevertheless, she stood her ground.
Upon being denied access, Justice asked if she knew who he was. She replied something along the lines of, “You’re David Justice, you hit 305 home runs and you’re not getting into this press box without a credential.”
Ralph, who worked at Angel Stadium, was a beauty. Armed with a pair of binoculars, this gentlemen would be prompted to action whenever a foul ball got hit into the stands. He would scan the area where the ball landed like a Naval officer on the bridge looking for mines. Once the nearest usher reached the area and saw that the ball landed safely and nobody was hurt, they would shoot Ralph a thumbs up. Ralph then offered back his signature, no-nonsense thumbs up to the usher. Serious business.
An old guy at Camden Yards stands in front of the press box and announces the hitters as if he’s a PA system: “Ladies and gentlemen, now batting for the Orioles, No. 13, Manny Machado.”
One of the new additions to my list is a security guy at Rogers Centre in Toronto. When you get off the elevator to go to the clubhouse, he hands you a fortune, like a Chinese restaurant sans the cookie.
Each of these characters is odd and quirky, but I love them all.