People often wax nostalgic about baseball with its poetic and graceful nuances; and I understand the feeling as I often do the same– yet there is a darker, more ominous underbelly that isn’t quite as idyllic or sophisticated: alcohol.
Drinking is just as ingrained in the rich tapestry of the game as hot dogs, Cracker Jacks, bloated payrolls and greedy owners–just ask Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Harry Caray or Cleveland Indians fans on ten-cent beer night.
Before baseball became the voracious, obnoxious corporate entity that it has become today it was just a simple, no-frills place for the working-class to let off some steam and have a beer or three. Baseball represents a lot of different things to a lot of different people; and for some it isn’t always a wholesome night with the family that stands up, yawns and quietly leaves in the 7th inning. These are true fan testimonials:
–I was completely blasted, as well as pretty stoned during Game 20 of The Streak. I sobered up pretty damn quick though when the Royals started coming back!
–I drank a bottle of Jose Cuervo in the parking lot before a game. I was barfing into an empty Gatorade bottle all game and no one seemed to notice since everyone had their eyes on the field.
–My Dad looked out at the field in the 4th inning (we were both about 8 beers in at that point), and turned to me saying, “Holy shit, did you realize there’s a ballgame going on?!” We were still more sober than the girl puking on the subway on the way home.
I miss Opening Night in the late 70’s early 80’s when fans were crazy, there were fights and people going nuts for foul balls. I got knocked down 8 stairs at age 10 from the mob going after a foul ball…good times.
–We were swearing at the umpire and a row of 50-year-old duds told us to shut up. We all sat down, everything settled and we went back to watching the game. That’s when my buddy comes back from the bathroom and spills a beer down the back of one of these guys on accident. I thought it was going to be an all out brawl… They were livid and we couldn’t stop laughing.
Anytime I went with my dad and uncle back in the early 70’s especially the World Series in 74. I was 6. The bleachers were cheap and beer was sold in the stands.
–World Series…can’t remember if it was ’88, ’89 or ’90. I was in the old bleacher area walking back from the bathroom or something. I looked up on the grassy area way up top in the back, and ESPN had set up a place for their crew to sit, with cameras and everything. I saw Peter Gammons, Bob Ley and someone else. A few of us were looking up at them, waving, smiling, etc. Some REALLY drunk dude walks up to me and asks what we are looking at. I pointed up and said, “It’s ESPN, Peter Gammons and Bob Ley!” (I was about 11 years old so I was very excited). Drunk dude, yells up in a drunken slur, “Hey Peter!!!!…..” (who then looks down and smiles) “…Fuck You!!!!….” Drunk dude then hurls his cup of draft beer up right at them! Cops then come and pull dude away. It was pretty funny.
–For my 40th on a Friday night, I had a suite and my friends kept buying me double 7&7’s from the suite bartender and the Irish Bar. I was so drunk and not my usual, respectable self. My sales guy came by to visit and I was apologizing, profusely, for being inebriated. Half of my friends in the suite were Giants fans, the other half A’s fans and one lone Dodger fan. My favorite moment was when a friend walked into the suite stopped and said, “Whoa! There are Giants fans in here…what are they doing here?” I think I was hung over for the next two days but still made it to Saturday and Sunday games that weekend. That was the last time I drank that much at a game. Never again.
–My buddy started making fun of a drunk Giants fan throwing up in the parking lot before the game. We almost had to throw down with his friends when we asked if he “had too much of that championship champagne.”
–Once, I was in the bathroom near gate D and the guy in the stall next to me was plastered. He sang “We Are The Champions” by Queen until he threw up on the floor.
–One time I got kicked out of the bleachers for having a flask, but then came back through the season ticket holder line.
–The last time I went to the Coliseum the bleachers were teeming with rowdy drunkenness, sort of good-natured heckling, pot smoke and “e-smoke.” Strangers were handing me hot links, chicken and pickle sandwiches and falling all over me. Fans kept getting kicked out and booing the staff every time they hauled off some poor fool that was passed out or slugging whiskey. Some guy nodded off and barfed three seats away. I’m a Mariners fan so I was glad the fans would rather have a good time, smoke, get drunk, dance, barf and get thrown out rather than pick on me. And really, why waste your time on anything else–that’s some real shit right there. Beats the fucking Dodgers fans I can tell you this. Salt of the earth.