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It used to be almost all Major League Baseball games opened during daylight hours. Even if teams had lights, games were played under the sun. You know, because baseball fans are ravenous and treat the game as religion. Actress Susan Sarandon as Annie Savoy in ‘Bull Durham’ said it best:
“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones.” Of course I couldn’t quote the entire thing, because, well, we’re a family newspaper.
I’m not old enough to remember when most stadiums didn’t have lights (Thankyouverymuch) I want to say that the end of opening day day, was when the powers that be initiated the horrid and unthinkable act of stealing daylight and installing gargantuan light poles at Wrigley Field in Chicago, August 8, 1988.
In reality, The first night game involved the Cincinnati Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in 1935 in what was Major League Baseball’s first-ever, at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. President Roosevelt symbolically powered up the lights from Washington, D.C. to capitalize on an evening fan base. By the end of the season, their attendance was up over 117 percent. That’s it, isn’t it? More people, more money. It’s a bottom line thing.
A few personal observations from the A’s and Giants ceremonial opening day/night.
-The Giants pull out one of the largest American flags you will ever see on opening day. It takes about 10,000 people to unfurl it.
-The Athletics have one of the smallest. Maybe six people to hold it.
-The Giants always sell out. Then again they always have sell outs according to their PR people.
-The A’s have a huge mountain (Mt. Davis) that blots out most available light, even at noon. It blocks the only view in which the Coliseum ever possessed (the Oakland Hills and the BART platform) and added thousands of seats which are closed off on the fourth deck and the third deck on the west side. The covers resemble Jolly Green Giant trampolines. I’m not sure what a sellout is during baseball season, there are so many empty seats.
-Just because you have fireworks, doesn’t mean you have to use them. Daytime fireworks are like trying to find white paper in a blizzard.
-Is it still opening day if it’s your fourth game but first at home? It’s now called Opening Week. Sorta like the ‘First Four’ during the NCAA tournament.
-Climbing the stairs to the upper deck of AT&T Park is like scaling a man-made mini Mount Everest. The air is rare 100 feet above sea level, but what a view.
-I’m thoroughly convinced that hot dog companies stay in business thanks to baseball and the Fourth of July.
-AT&T park has it’s own version of ‘The Birds’. Just wait around ’till after the game. Stay away from the bleachers.
-The turf and infield at the Oakland Coliseum are a thing of beauty, especially when it doubles as a football field.
-How many humorous photos can one make of the Chevron cars at AT&T Park’s left field?
-Getting to AT&T Park takes time, bring snacks in case you get caught in downtown traffic. Getting to the game four to six hours ahead of time alleviates the problem. However, Oakland has the Nimitz which can be easy on easy off. Unless there’s an accident. Again, four to six hours cancels it out. In our biz, we factor in traffic woes.
-Fans are universally pumped up at each stadium. When the Dodgers are in SF, it’s like the World Series, even though that will never happen. Unless Hell freezes over.
Whatever your take on baseball, it’s kind of a fun to sit and watch a game in sunshine or under the lights. Just bring a jacket.
Meanwhile, here’s a few from last week’s openers.