Network Associates Coliseum (O.co Coliseum)
Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics
July 1, 2003
As coincidence would have it, I got to
Oakland just in time to pick up Marty Giaramita at the Oakland
airport, which is conveniently located right by the stadium. Marty
is family without the blood relationship, so it was really great
that this was the day he returned to California to join me for the
game after working several months on the East Coast in DC. It was
also a break for his wife Kelley, who didn’t have to Drive from
Stockton to pick him up, since I can drop him off on my way down to
see games in Southern California.
Marty got to relax after the long
flight while I worked on my articles. Then we did something unique
for this trip…we decided to walk to the stadium from the hotel since
it was only a short, maybe 5-minute, walk away. Only it wasn’t as
easy as we thought. The Coliseum apparently has a moat around it
like some ancient castle or fortress that we had to find our way
around..., which ended up being a long walk to the BART station and
a walk over the train tracks (and moat) to the stadium. We thought
about hopping over a barbed-wire fence to save time, but cooler
heads prevailed and we just walked around.
The interesting part of the walk
though was that we got to see all the extra seats left in the
parking lot since many seats have to be removed for baseball that
are used for football. It was kind of surprising how those seats
were just hanging out in the parking lot like they were waiting to
be picked up by a garbage truck.
Once inside, we learned that we were
in “Baseball Country” now or at least that’s what the new A’s slogan
says. I guess based on the last several seasons of watching the A’s
make great second half runs to make the playoffs, they must not be
too far off. The A’s have been a fun team to watch, especially
considering how they have managed to keep winning in spite of losing
key players like Jason Giambi and Billy Koch due to financial
reasons. I don’t have to add that GM Billy Beane has been lauded
for his style and effectiveness, but as a baseball fan I’m glad I
got to benefit from his success by seeing the A’s two straight games
against two of their biggest rivals (the Giants and Mariners).
I’ll start off with the fans. I got
to witness the spunk of the A’s fans a couple of days ago when they
beat the Giants at Pacific Bell Park. It was apparent to me that
the A’s fans were a lot more fun than the Giants fans. They were
pretty vocal and rambunctious in routing for their team in enemy
territory. Things weren’t any different at home in Oakland as they
supported the A’s against the first place Mariners. The only
disappointing thing was that the Coliseum was less than half-full.
I’ve been here before and unfortunately each time the stands were
pretty empty, but those that do come are there because they are
baseball fans and are not there just for the atmosphere, like it is
on the other side of the bay.
The surprising thing about the empty
Coliseum is that it’s pretty easy to get there. There is a BART
stop at the stadium (which I have taken to the game both before and
after this trip) and the highway runs right by the stadium. I’m not
sure if it’s because it’s in Oakland instead of San Francisco or if
it’s just because it’s not in a nice downtown location.
As a beer enthusiast, this is a
special place to visit. There is an abundance of beer options here,
so you don’t have to settle for some awful Coors or Bud product.
There are several different kiosks throughout the stadium offering a
broad variety of suds. You can settle for the general watered down
stuff previously mentioned or some local micro brews, Corona, anchor
steam, and more. The beer also helped me wash down my linguista
sausage from Sways, which was also quite good.
Although this stadium was built for
the football Raiders in 1966, when it was simply called the Oakland
Coliseum, the baseball history is not lost here. The A’s started
playing here in 1968 after moving from Kansas City, while the
Raiders left in 1981, but came back in 1995. Therefore, the A’s
have shared the stadium with the A’s for most of their tenure in
Oakland. As in most dual-purpose stadiums, many of the seats have
sightlines that may not be the best for baseball (or football). For
instance, the towering decks beyond centerfield that leave the
spectators very far away and above home plate, so sitting there
would not be the best place to see the game, but fortunately or
unfortunately, depending upon your perspective, there are plenty of
seats in good locations that are always available.
I love when teams embrace their
history, and the A’s do. The have retired numbers of players such
as Rollie Fingers (34) and Catfish Hunter (27) on the walls, Loads
of photos of past players outside of the West Side Club, and plaques
of past greats by the West Side Lounge (including the Raiders).
Their Elephant mascot is even a tribute to their days of
Philadelphia, when they were more commonly known by their full name,
the Athletics. They were given the moniker of “White Elephants” by
John McGraw of the New York Giants during the 1905 World Series, and
Connie Mack embraced it and kept it as part of the A’s traditions.
The stadium itself also gives an old time feel with the
overabundance of green for every seat in the stadium. The
out-of-town scoreboard is manual and they have an organist playing
during the games instead of a loud overbearing music sound system.
Once you finally take your seat, you
notice how this stadium has way more foul territory than other
stadiums, which is a big benefit to pitchers. The pitcher’s
advantage came through on this day too. Tim Hudson and Gil Meche
staged a traditional pitcher’s duel holding their opponents to one
run a piece with Meche going 7 innings and Hudson 8. Eric Byrnes
couldn’t repeat his heroics from the previous game in PacBell park,
going from a 5-5 game with the cycle to an 0-5. I did get to see
Ichiro, who is one of my favorite players go 2-4 with a double, a
run and a sacrifice bunt though.
The biggest excitement in those early
innings was the storm fusion dot race, where the fans cheered
ecstatically for their colored dot to win the electronic race on the
two jumbotrons. For the record, the white dot was victorious on
this day! The other in game excitement came from the 2 fans in the
upper deck dressed as an elephant and a moose (Mariners mascot),
with the elephant pounding the moose with a giant hammer. There is
also, no way to miss the fans beating drums throughout the game to
cheer on their A’s.
After 9 innings, the game was all tied
up at one. The 1oth inning was quiet, but the Mariners got things
going in the top of the 11th when Carlos Guillen led off
the inning with a double and came around to score on a Ben Davis
single. The A’s came right back in their half of the inning
though. Erubial Durazz led off the inning with a single and reached
second on shortstop Guillen’s error. Terrence Long followed with a
pinch-hit single to plate Durazzo, moved to second on Menechino’s
sacrifice bunt, to third on a Jeff Nelson wild pitch, and on to
score the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Jermaine Dye. So after
a slow moving ten innings the 11th was quite exciting and
capped off a great day at the ballpark!
Bottom line – Keep an open mind and
enjoy a baseball game at this under-rated baseball stadium!
Basic trip facts:
-Stadium # 12
Sites visited – None (Total – 8)
traveled – 20 via Car (Totals: Driving – 7,246, Subway - 20, Air -
3,196, Total – 10,482)
provinces and/or commonwealths passed through – California (Totals:
States – 24, Provinces – 0, Commonwealths - 1)
–Section 121, Row 30, Seat 18 – Field Level between Home and 3rd
Parking – Not Sure (We walked from Hotel), Beer - $7.00 - $7.50,
Pizza - $6.00, Linguista (Portuguese Sausage) - $5.25, Program
(including pencil) - $5.75, Souvenir Soda Cup – 4.50
giveaway – A’s T-shirt or canvas stool
- 7:07 PM
– A’s 3, Mariners 2, W – Keith Foulke, L –Jeff Nelson, S – None
record to date – 8 wins, 7 losses
“team I was routing for” to date – 4 wins, 11 losses