Gettin’ slammed at the ol’ yard.

vintage beerPeople 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.drunk A's

–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.

8 Comments

Opening night 1983 at the Kingdome, I had an angry Yankee fan throw a beer at me as the game ended (Mariners win). That’s the bad, but the good was my first trip to Baltimore in 1987 at old Memorial Stadium.

The folks in Baltimore were great, friendly and even helpful to an out of town Mariners fan. We ended up sharing a beer with the folks around us, and it was one of the best times ever at a ballpark. I still have a lot of like for Baltimore and their fans because of the way they always treated me when I went there.

Beer can be bad in the hands of Yankee fan, but it can also be good!

Dave…..oh my…I’m not a violent person by nature, but I can imagine the feeling of absolute determination to DESTROY another human being if he was a Yankees fan and he threw a beer at me….or perhaps we would talk it out.

Huh. Well, when you put all those vignettes together, it sounds pretty damning. Of course, it sounds like some of them were from the 70s, and, personally, I think I was stoned on something for that entire decade, wherever I was.
I associate getting drunk (that is, other people getting drunk; I prefer to stay sober and watch the game) far more with football, where drunk, out of control behavior seems to be traditional, but I will say that one of the most unpleasant, alcohol related experiences I ever had was an afternoon in the top deck (before it was tarped- and don’t get me started on THAT) of Oakland stadium, during a Giants-A’s game. Usual crap. Bunch of young dudes started heckling other bunch of young dudes wearing different colors, and it escalated as the beers went down, until a fight broke out and Security had to step in, much to the relief of the whole seating area. That was one day I wished beer wasn’t quite so available and (relatively) inexpensive.
by and large, though, I haven’t experienced beer (or any other intoxicant) as being a problem at the games. It’s so damned expensive, for one thing. I can buy a six pack of pretty good beer for what I might pay for one pint (or less) of crappy near-beer at a game. Just doesn’t make much sense to me. Your actual miliage may vary, though.

C’est la vie, John. The whole “color” thing is bogus in person.

This is hilarious. Made me realize that I appreciated the baseball/alcohol combo so much more when I didn’t have to be an “example” to my 14 year old sitting next to me at the game. That’s one of the toughest things about being a parent – having to look at someone and say with a straight face “you don’t need alcohol to have a good time” when you are dying to say “but it can sure make a good time…great…” Love the post thanks for the laugh as always 🙂

Don’t forget the guys (always guys, never women) who manage to fall from the upper deck once a season or so. Not likely many of them were sober. Objects are closer than they appear.

Still laughing about the Gammons story

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