Monday in the Park with Rand
By Jennifer Floto
Please don't let it be an April Fool's joke, I thought, when I got the message from that erstwhile prankster, Randy, saying that he had an extra ticket to opening day at Dodger Stadium. I'm a native Angeleno and had never been to opening day.
Well, it wasn't a joke and suddenly, there I was, driving into Chavez Ravine trying to master the parking maze. Safely ensconced in Section 33, which, I later learned was a huge mistake, I ventured up to the Will Call window. Perched on a cement planter, I was fascinated by the fan-demonium - who says L.A. fans are lame? Everyone donned some kind of Dodger paraphernalia from the more conventional caps and jerseys to gaudy suspenders, homemade crochet vests and a hat festooned with at least 100 MLB pins.
And suddenly, like clockwork, there he was, walking toward me sporting a huge grin, spare ticket in hand.
Safely nestled in our Club Level seats, I took in the entire scene. It totally reminded me of Seurat's famous Sunday in the Park with George, only this scene wasn't peopled with Parisian gentry: Dodger blue dominated the landscape; the air was filled with doves and fireworks and an exhibition by a brave band of Navy Seals who parachuted onto the field while we watched their descent on the big screen (one poor chap missed the mark and landed in the parking lot - hope he's not commanding overseas forces anytime soon!).
But, mostly, the air was filled with baseball. It was Monday in the Park with Rand. . .and his luminous wife, Patricia, brother, Steve, niece, Camille, nephew, Adam. They were all veterans of opening day but no one begrudged me my occasional "ooh" and "ah."
I quickly learned that Randy and Steve are serious attendees. Each was meticulous about the plays, the scores, the stats. Of course, I've known them both all my life and attended dozens of their own baseball games, so their intensity didn't shock me; rather, I was tickled to be part of this hallowed occasion.
The game itself was fairly lackluster. But then, this is MLB, so, of course, there was controversy. True to form, L.A. fans did not take kindly to Gary Sheffield's pre-game comments about being unappreciated and wanting to be traded. They booed him. Big time. Even when he plowed into the left field fence trying to nab a foul in the first inning. No sympathy. "What a faker!" The replay (which Randy missed every time it showed!) clearly showed he put had taken quite a blow.
The tide turned, though, when Sheffield scored the only run of the game with a pretty homer straight into center. The stadium was tense waiting to see if he'd do the right thing, then, presto! He popped back out of the dugout and doffed his cap. Good move, Gary.
I got a big kick out of monitoring how fast each pitch went. Chan Ho Park fired a bunch of 91-93MPHers before he got tired. The fans were dutifully appreciative of Dodger luminaries in attendance such as Tommy LaSorda, Ron Cey and Don Newcombe. We were bummed that the LaSorda bobbing head doll wasn't yet on sale - we were two days too early.
Other observations: Dodger dogs are awesome; there are way too many corporate sponsors - rather, their SIGNS - all over the park; I didn't expect veteran shortstop Maury Wills to have white hair, but if I'm nearly 50, I guess that would make sense! Lastly, the THINK BLUE letters perched on the opposite hill are a lame attempt to imitate the famous Hollywood sign, and they aren't even Dodger Blue!
After leaving my compadres (who made wiser parking choices) I hung around in the lot waiting for the traffic to die down. I learned that people from all over Southern California partake in this ritual every year - some have a decade; Randy's a 25-year vet. I'm proud to say I now have one under my belt.
Jennifer Floto is a professor at the University of Southern
California and happens to be the editor/publisher's sister. Randy
Rosenblatt, renowned Santa Barbara lawyer, is the editor's lifelong
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