The first baseball game I went to was in San Francisco. I’ve come to enjoy beer and public screaming in a few different places now, but my first was San Francisco’s AT & T Park, a baseball park with so many name changes locals have taken to calling it “Phone Company Park.” At the time of this story, it had the name of a different phone company: SBC.
But that’s not the reason this particular baseball game was exciting, nor was it exciting because it was my first time. I thought baseball was boring. I went to the game to make my boyfriend happy. He came upon these tickets the way he found lots of other things in his life: by collecting trash. He was the kind of person who was always finding $20 bills and lost driver’s licenses. It was in someone’s discarded portfolio, dropped outside of the art supply store where he worked, that he found the tickets to this game: the San Francisco Giants versus the Kansas City Royals.
When we got to the stadium, it was completely packed. It was the middle of August, and San Francisco was enjoying a rare hot day. The tickets were “Club Level” and even as a virgin, I knew that that was a good thing. Whoever dropped these expensive tickets obviously didn’t really deserve them. We headed straight to a beer vendor and picked up the cheapest domestic swill; still a ridiculous eight dollars. We sat down and were surrounded by all kinds of men: chanting, taking stats, and talking non-stop.
An inning later, the Royals at bat and the men gone to get more hot dogs and beer, an usher beckoned us out of our seats. Had we won a prize? They’d been giving out prizes all through out the game; maybe we were getting a car? The usher, however, did not lead us to a red carpet that would take us to our own private jet, instead he lead us to a uniformed police officer. It was here that I tuned out. If any words were exchanged, they weren’t in any language I could understand. I was gone, thinking only of how we were going to get bail money.
The officer was in charge of getting us somewhere, and to make it to this place we had to walk through the entire concessions area. We pushed our way through throngs of people dressed in shades of orange, the air smelling of a mix of French fry grease and sweat. I imagined what they were thinking: two kids in black t-shirts walking with a cop. Caught doing meth? Leaders of a satanic cult finally caught and captured?
Finally, we arrived at our destination: the stadium’s police department. The officer led us into a cinder block walled room, where several officers were already waiting. They asked us where we got the tickets and immediately we put on our best law-abiding citizen voices, apologized about a million times and politely say we stumbled upon them. They demanded to know a specific location, and had my boyfriend painstakingly detail all of his moves that lucky day.
Finally, the officer took a breath, leaned back and said we could go back to our seats. “Those tickets were reported stolen. But, most real criminals know better than to use them. You two are obviously not criminals.” He waved us off and let us leave the station alone. We were no longer a threat to the state of the stadium.
Back at our seats, we decide to stay the whole game. Originally, the plan was to leave before the 9th inning, but now we were in it for the long haul: after all, we’d now earned the right to be there.