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A Great Day, Even Without a Home Run By HARRY A. WENTWORTH

Friday December 24, 2004

From a letter dated August 10, 2002 


Dear Jay and Jean, 

I have to tell you about my fantastic experience going to the ballgame this week. You’ll never believe it! But that’s okay. But anyway, it’s a true story. 

So it was Thursday, a couple of days ago. A weekday afternoon game at PacBell. The Giants were playing the Cubs; Barry Bonds was going for No. 600. He had hit No. 599 earlier in the week. So it’s a game I had been planning on going to for some time as its rare to have one of these weekday afternoon games, my favorite kind. But of course, I didn’t have a ticket. I just go with the idea of picking up one at the last minute, a bleacher seat, standing room only, or whatever. Anything to get me in the park, then I take it from there. 

Well anyway, so I hike down to Rockridge about 11 a.m. for this 12:35 first pitch, ride the BART express to Embarcadero, then transfer to the Muni light rail to the ballpark. Get there about a half hour before game time. Check out the ticket windows, get in a long line. Then find out its only a line to an ATM. So where’s the ticket windows? Well it looks like there’s no ticket windows open. So I mull this over. I’ve already seen a scattering of guys on the sidewalk hawking tickets. Scalper tickets, of course. Well, I figure, there must be some kind of a window open somewhere, at the for a SRO ticket, (standing room only) which I got the last time I went to a game a couple of weeks ago. $9.00 and you’re in. So I see these three cops (SFPD) standing there close by, chatting with an eye on the crowd on the sidewalks. I walk up to them and ask, “Where’s the open ticket window?” They tell me, “Heh, there’s no windows open; it’s a complete sell out; No. 600 you know.” So it figures. I ask, “not even a way to get a standing room only ticket?” They say, “No, nothin, check around through the crowd and down towards Willie Mays Plaza, there’s guys selling scalper tickets.” So I start walkin’ down towards Willie Mays Plaza. I get about 20 to 30 feet away in that direction, and then I hear, “Hey!” I look around back at the cops and see one of them motioning me to come back. So I approach them again, say “So one of your guys got a ticket?” And they tell me, “No, no ticket, but we can get you in. Follow along with us. We’ll get you in the gate. You won’t have a ticket, but we’ll get you inside, then you’re on your own.” So I say “Fantastic” and proceed to accompany them as hey head for the jam-packed gate area. One of the cops tells me, “If anyone asks anything, we’ll say we’re looking for your granddaughter.” I was tempted to say, “Heh, my granddaughter is 40 years old, and she doesn’t want to be found!” But I just swallowed the thought and stayed close to them, as we pushed through the mob, but got some questioning looks from a couple of ticket takers, but nobody said anything. After all I was in good company! I figured everyone would think I had likely been arrested for something, and was being hauled off to a holding area. 

So anyway, now we’re inside with the mob, and they ask me, “Do you want to go up to the Club level? You won’t have a ticket for a seat, but you can sit at the bar and watch the game. Maybe after a few innings you can spot a seat as there’s always some “no-shows.’” So I say, “great, I’m good for whatever.” So they head me towards one of the gigantic elevators, get in one with a jammed crowd and head on up. Along the way, they introduce themselves, there’s Nick and John, and Sam. And I’m Harry. Now we are all formally introduced, and they ask me, “You seen a lot of Giants games? Seen a hundred games?” And I say, “Oh yeah, at least a hundred games—and then I tell them about having grown up with Ted Williams, and that we had played ball together in 1930, when I was eleven years old and Ted was twelve. And I told ‘em about having lived in New York in 1945 and 1946 and having seen in 1945 at Yankee Stadium every one of the eleven games that the Detroit Tigers and the Yankees played in New York that year, a year that the Tigers won the pennant and the World Series, and the Yankees finished second. I gather they were fascinated with my stories, especially with the Ted Williams story. They really gave me the 3rd degree on that one, and I didn’t think I would escape without giving them my autograph or signing a baseball or something. 

Anyway, they finally let me loose at the Club level to figure it out from there, which I proceeded to do—and went on to enjoy the game, sitting at one of the bars for awhile—then eventually did find a “no show” seat. They are all, like $40 on that Club level, which I had never been on before on any of my forays to PacBell. So it turned out to be a very luxurious way to see the ball game. I told them that I had twenty grandchildren and when I told them about this experience, none of them would ever believe me. 

Unfortunately, it was not one of the Giant’s great games. I had gone with the expectation that I might be there to witness Barry Bonds No. 600—but instead I saw Sammy Sosa hit his league leading #33 and #34 for this year. And the Cubs won 9-3. Just a 3-run homer by Jeff Kent in the late inning for our side. 

As it turned out Barry Bonds did get No. 600 in the very next game, which was last night after the Cubs had left town and been supplanted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although, again the Giants came up short, losing 4-3. So I only missed his No. 600 by one game, and did get to hear the memorable event on the radio last night. 

So anyway. Isn’t that some incredible story? How I managed to come up with a complete freebie at the ballpark. And to do it in incomparable luxury style? Well, like they say, it’s one to tell my grandkids about—and/or my kids as well, starting with you and Jean. You will also have to tell this story to Grace and Marion. I bet they will get a hoot out of it.Ã