July 4th in Oakland

Last week I spent a couple of days in the Bay area with my PSU friend Andy. On July 4th I drove to Oakland in the morning. It was a beautiful, sunny day in central California. I arrived at my first destination (the In-N-Out Burger at 8300 Oakport Street) at 10:30am, parked my car, and ate an early lunch. I stashed my car at an undisclosed location and walked to the O.co Coliseum (I still think of it as Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum). I think the line to get into the ballpark was the longest line I have ever waited in barring traffic jams. A blanket giveaway was responsible for the early crowds.

A flying Minion entertained those of us waiting in line.

A flying Minion entertained those of us waiting in line.

Despite being at the ballpark two hours early I still failed to be one of the first 10,000 persons through the gate. Before the game started I explored the park. The concourse was very roomy, yet the early crowd resulted in a human traffic jam. As I walked along I repeatedly got stuck and had to just stand in place until I had space to move ahead. It makes me wonder how bad the crowd is during Oakland Raiders games (when they have 60,000 fans instead of the 32,000 the Athletics draw).

The concourse at O.co Coliseum.

The concourse at O.co Coliseum.

Because the stadium was set-up for baseball that meant almost 30,000 seats were covered by tarps. Most of the upper deck was off limits.

A closed walkway.

Stairs leading to a closed section of the upper deck.

You can see those massive tarps in the picture below. The entire upper level that is seen in the photo has tarps covering it. I thought this stadium might remind me of Veterans Stadium since it is a concrete bowl. Alas, it did not. While it is very circular it is not fully sided, there are openings. A small view of hills appears in one of the gaps in right center field. At the Vet you never saw the outside world unless you climbed to the top of the 700 level.

The glimpse of hills in right center field.

The glimpse of hills in right center field.

From center field you can see the small open section in the upper deck that is situated behind the plate.

The view from center field.

The view from center field.

All around the stadium there were signs offering help if you would text “issue” and your location to a specific number. I might keep this number in my phone for future use.

I could use a number like this.

I could use a number like this.

Since it was July 4th the ballpark had a festive feel. A large flag was rolled out in center field. People were dressed up in patriotic attire.

Uncle Sam sat near me.

Uncle Sam sat near me.

During the announcement of the A’s starting line-up the theme from the A-Team played. I loved that.

When Andy arrived we talked about life for the remainder of the game. It was great to catch up. In some ways my time in Happy Valley feels like yesterday and in other ways it feels like an eternity ago.

The game was an interleague affair (an abomination). The Athletics beat the Cubs 1-0. The lone run scored on a passed ball. The last time that happened in MLB was 20 years prior to the day. Bizarre.

Josh Donaldson at the dish.

Josh Donaldson at the dish.

Many sources list O.co Coliseum as the second worst venue to watch an MLB game (ranking it only above Tropicana Field). The stadium lacks individuality and architectural interest, but it wasn’t as much of a disaster as I expected. It is a plain stadium, and the playing field is in very good shape. I won’t pile on the criticism.

After the game we tried to explore downtown Oakland but it was closed. It was eerie. Finally we found a small establishment called the Rosamunde Sausage Grill in Swan’s Marketplace. A beer sausage and a Moose Drool rounded out the day.

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