It was 1976, I was six going on an independent seven. Do not remember a whole lot of TV from back then. However, I do remember a lot of spring cleaning on Saturday morning's from The Manhattan Transfer and Barry Manilow among others. Somehow my parents thought it was going to inspire my brother and I to pick up our random army men and matchbox cars quicker and faster. That being said, I am still a huge Barry Manilow fan.
It was a night game, I was wearing a Los Angeles Rams jacket. The one that you get on Christmas from the Sears catalog. It had that weird hybrid of some sort of synthetic fabric that was supposed to emulate wool and faux leather sleeves. The body of the jacket was blue and the sleeves were yellow. It was a sweet ass jacket. I had no favorite Angel player yet but was excited to go to my first ball game. It was bat night. Not like bat night as we know it now where they give out the tiny little bats with the sponsor's logo. I received a legit 30" bat with no sponsor’s logo. Just a name burnt into the wood; California Angels.
I went to the game with a few of my dad’s buddies and their kids. Walking into the game they handed out the bats. Imagine the mayhem today that would cause... Our tickets were on the right field line; upper deck. We made our trek with our bats to the top. We got to the top and took our seats. I was scared and excited. We took our seats and then the Halos ran onto the field. Time stopped… The whole stadium started shaking and people were screaming. Lord of the Flies live. Everyone was banging their bats. It was a white riot. It sounded like Adam and the Ants, Bow Wow Wow, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan went full Chernobyl. I was scared to death.
Holding on tight to with a GI Joe Kung Fu Grip to my chair and my bat during the first few innings and then duty called. Time to use the restroom. I told my dad that I needed to go to the bathroom. He said, "Ok I will take you." Being this is 1976 and the celebration of independence; I declared my own independence and said "I can do this on my own." I began walking down the stairs from the top deck and its steepness made me feel that I was going to stumble and fall to my death. I was Sandra Bullock in "Gravity," in full panic mode, but without George Clooney holding a scotch and a smirk to help me find the way to the bathroom much less to a beautiful beach. At that moment I had no hope for a happy ending.
I immediately grabbed the rail and held on for dear life. I started to cry and scream. An usher ran up and tried pull me off the rail. I was literally Ozzy going off the rails. My dad ran down to try to remedy the situation. There was no way I was letting go. I was going to die. Being independent really sucked. After a few minutes and a lot of coaxing, my dad convinced me to let go of my death grip, ala Del Griffith, and got me down the stairs to the tunnel. With every step, I thought this was it, gravity was going to take its course and claim another victim. When we got to the tunnel, I got tunnel vision, and asked my dad if he had my bat? After staring death in the face I became focused like a laser beam. I realized that I had bested gravity and death and now I need my bat. Being the gracious father he was and with laughs and empathy of friends and foes a like, he left me with the usher who was trying to save me and retrieved my bat for me. Needless to say, I lost my urge to use the bathroom and asked my dad if we can go home? He said, "Yes," and somehow through the sonic overload of senses and emotions I became an Angel fan; through life and possibly death.
I got my bat, gotta to go my first ball game with my dad, and mixed in some tears. I used that bat for many years in my little league games, much to the chagrin of my friends. They would always ask me, " Why are you using that wood bat?" I would answer, "It’s an Angel’s bat."