JD’s Ballpark Tour, Sixteenth Inning (Oakland, CA)

Part XV: O.co Coliseum

In late August, I was aware how many hits I was getting on my blog, and was wondering how far I could take this. After visiting Texas, I had visited 13 ballparks so far this season… and immediately thought, “what if I could get to half the ballparks this season, and possibly get the other half next season?” I started making plans, and this would culminate in an epic final week. With the baseball season approaching its final week and me sitting on 13 ballparks in one season, I was ready to head up to the Bay Area to watch two vitally important games on both sides of the bay. The two games I’d watch would have playoff implications, and it would prove to be legen… wait for it…

Ballpark 14: O.co Coliseum, elevation 25 feet

The game: Angels @ Athletics on September 24, 2014

Both the Angels and A’s were making a playoff push, and this was possibly (and ultimately) the final home game for the Oakland A’s in the 2014 baseball season. Even though this was an afternoon game, the crowds really came out for this most important match. For this Bay Area trip, I had a couple guests with me! My dear friend Kelsey, and my good buddy, Jeff Pope who is kind of a celebrity. Not only is he the PA announcer for the Ontario Reign, but he is one of the morning radio personalities on the Mix in San Jose. When they heard about my possible trip up to the Bay Area, they couldn’t pass up a golden opportunity to join me on this quest. Thank you both!

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Tickets: We all bought our tickets in advance and opted for good field level seats just to the third base side of home plate. Field level seats were only around forty bucks! That is cheap compared to the majority of the major leagues, so why not? Besides, this is the end of my trip, and I had been working, anyway. One paycheck went towards this entire road trip up the California coast. The A’s actually have very decent prices for their stadium. Even though the coliseum is a bit old and one of the few remaining “cookie-cutter” stadiums still standing, there is a certain charm to this place. Most of the charm comes from…

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The fans: These folks go crazy for their team! In the outfield, you can typically see (and hear) the rowdies in the right field bleachers jumping around and yelling chants to many of their favorite players. I have to admit, some of the drum beats were catchy and even had me moving around in my seat. It almost felt like a soccer match at times with the controlled rowdiness, I loved it. This is what a passionate fan base should be. Oh, and these fans have signs everywhere along the right field seats. Yeah, this is an “Oakland” type of crowd!

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The food: There are pretty standard food items available at the Coliseum. One item that was better than I thought was their Chinese bowl along the third-base concourse. The food was about ten bucks, and tasted better than I thought. More important, it was more filling than I thought. Drinks are fairly cheap at this ballpark, as well. For being an older stadium, the food options are not all that bad here.

Before I get into the actual game, I had to share one hilarious thing Kelsey pointed out. When I got my “designated driver” ticket for a free small drink, the ticket was ripped off directly from Petco Park! No, I’m not joking on that one. I realize this park doesn’t have the biggest budget in the world, but could you make it a little less obvious?

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The game: The Oakland A’s had been slumping in recent times, which is why I said this could be the final home game of the season. They were in danger of losing a wild card spot, and the Angels were only two wins away from clinching the AL West division. With that said, two teams are going in completely opposite directions. Immediately in the first inning, Mike Trout hits a single, nabs another stolen base, and scores with hustle on a soft Howie Kendrick single. The Angels took the immediate lead which drew…. cheers from about a hundred fans. Yes, quite a few Angels fans came out for this one!

This coliseum can be described as a kind of cavernous place. With the stadium being converted to a dual-use stadium with the Raiders moving in, a new section of seats were added that are affectionately known as “Mount Davis” named after the Raiders’ polarizing owner. Because there are now tarps on the highest points of the stadium, the retired numbers are displayed on those tarps. Yes, they have a good history, and the only way you would know it is by looking at the retired numbers on tarps… they deserve better treatment than that. At least the championship pennants are proudly displayed!

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Going to a game with Jeff Pope is very interesting. With him being a radio DJ, he gets in plenty of announcing moments that become hilarious throughout the course of the game. It got very entertaining during the big head race as they featured retired players facing each other in a race around the warning track. But first, a short back story! Jeff does the PA announcing for the Ontario Reign hockey team. One thing he always does is commentary for the “Zamboni Race” and it’s glorious. Well, he did the same thing here with the big-head Rickey Henderson and Rollie Fingers being really close. It was getting closer, and “down the stretch they come!” Finally, Rollie Fingers won the race with his huge mustache and all! Similar to the Presidents’ Race at Nationals Park, the A’s keep a running tally, and the big Rollie and Rickey were the two best of the season. This is a fun thing the A’s do to keep everyone smiling, and I love it!

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With the Angels now leading 5-0 going into the 7th inning stretch, it looked like this could very well be the final home game of the season. At this point, the fans were going wild trying hard to encourage their home team to make a comeback. As if on cue, the A’s put up 4 runs on 5 hits, and this is now time for Angels’ manager, Mike Scoscia to micro-manage and put in three relievers to get out of that inning. After that 7th, the Angels didn’t put up anything on offense. Oakland just needed one more run to tie the game. For the first time all game, everybody got into the game, and it felt like a playoff game. The crowd may not have been a sellout, but the fans that were there were as loud as any other great fan base. Sadly for the Oakland faithful, the A’s would go on to lose that game, and that would later prove to be their final home game of the season.

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Because the ushers realized that this was potentially the final game of the season, fans flocked around to take plenty of pictures. At least they were nice about that. Sure, the place may look like a prison to some people. Sure, the Coliseum may lack many amenities found in most current ballparks. Sure, it may be a stink hole to almost everyone else.

But you know what? This is THEIR stink hole, and it’s a damn good one. The fans more than make up for the lack of features. If you know me, or if you’ve been reading this blog, I prefer a very passionate fan base over all kinds of different bells and whistles. So I took pictures with both Kelsey and Jeff, and we all had a freaking blast. The next time I make it up there, I will be sure to bring both Kelsey and Jeff along. I say that because it’s not about the best views, but in this case, it’s about the people I was surrounded with.

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Oh, the place is still a stink hole, though. I can’t, in good conscience, say that it’s the best ballpark out there. However, it’s nowhere near the worst ballpark, either. Keep on keeping on, Oakland! Seriously, I’d go back there in a heartbeat if I had the chance. Oh, and I can still hear that catchy song in the back of my head… “I… I believe… I believe in…I believe in Stephen Vogt!” Thank you all for reading!

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…DARY!

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-JD

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