As I squeezed my six foot four inch-frame into a seat that was clearly designed for children about to celebrate their first double-digit birthday, I wondered to myself if the 45-minute school bus ride was actually going to be worth it. But as the bus pulled up to Dodger Stadium, I realized why I had dished out seven dollars and suffered through a painful bus ride: it was the price I had to pay in order to watch world class athletes compete in one of the oldest and most historic baseball stadiums in the country. I had come to watch the LA Dodgers play the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The buses pulled up to Dodger Stadium almost two hours before the game was set to start, which gave the 749 (theoretically) other 5C students and me plenty of time to wander around the nosebleed section and check out the gift shop. My friends and I were soon scared off by the astronomically high prices – one hundred bucks for a sweater that to the naked eye appeared to be made of regular cloth, not solid gold – though we were told to “come back Sunday!” when all of the merchandise would be 25 percent off. As we made our way out of the store, the noises from my stomach became audible, so I gritted my teeth and shelled out $5.75 for a “Dodger Dog.” I had decided that it was worth the extra 75 cents to ensure that my hot dog was “All-Beef,” and I tried not to spend too much time pondering what exactly the $5 hot dog was made of. We then found our seats among the other 5C attendees, some rocking the Dodger blue and others representing Pittsburgh.
“Is that Yoda?!?” I began to worry that the lack of oxygen from the high altitude was adversely affecting her brain. However, as I followed the line of her pointing finger, sure enough, Yoda and just about every other Star Wars character a normal person could name (and yes, if you can’t name any Star Wars characters other than Yoda, I am calling you abnormal) were on the field. Apparently Star Wars sponsored the game, but I will refrain from naming what exactly they were promoting until they pay me to advertise for them. The Star Wars characters were soon forgotten as 29 Medal of Valor-winning Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) members lined the field, and a new Medal of Valor was presented to a heroic officer. As a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem given by an LAPD officer drew to a close, four helicopters flew directly over the stadium to honor LA’s finest.
I looked around Dodger Stadium as the words “it’s time for Dodger baseball” rang through the complex and believed the rumors I had heard about plummeting attendance at Dodger games. As I became engaged in the game, I failed to notice the massive amount of people who arrived during the beginning of the game, but when I looked around at the end of the first inning, I was impressed by the turnout. According to official statistics, 41,148 people attended the game, bringing Dodger Stadium to 73 percent capacity and surpassing their average attendance for 2011 by almost 5,000 people. The game remained relatively close with both teams putting runs on the board, until the sixth inning when the Dodgers scored four runs and took a 7-2 lead. The score remained steady for the rest of the game, and the home team ended the night victorious, bringing themselves within two games of a .500 record.
After the game ended, it was time for the fireworks. The fireworks had been an afterthought to me, as I expected it to be a pyrotechnic display of puny proportions. I could not have been more wrong. As the booms from the fireworks reverberated throughout the stadium and a brilliant display of colorful wonder exploded in front of my eyes to the Star Wars theme song, I sat entranced. I now understood why this game, which carried on the tradition of Friday night fireworks, attracted almost 5,000 more people than the average Dodgers game.
I avoided acknowledging the pain of folding myself into a pretzel-like position on the way back to Claremont by reflecting on the experience I had just had. Sure, the food was pricey and unsatisfying, the merchandise only affordable to CEOs, and the seats high enough to make me thank the heavens that I had brought along my glasses. But the game was exciting (for a baseball game), the fireworks were fantastic, and I got to spend a marvelous evening outside of the Claremont bubble with my best friends. All in all, I give last Friday night and the 5C Dodgers Game my stamp of approval.