Any of you remember the Triple-A Hawaii Islanders at the Old Stadium? Boy, how I miss those days! I remember “Bell” the nice gentlemen collecting the tickets as everyone went through the turnstile. He always said, “Hi Jan. You drinking coke tonight?” Yes, us kids grew up on the Real Coke and tube ice, the kind that you can put your straw through. You see, growing up, we attended almost every game when the Islanders were in town. So, Bell knew my habits well. I remember my mom telling me, “Hurry up and come straight home from school. We going baseball tonight!” I was introduced to the game of baseball at a very young age. Both my parents were avid fans of the game. They not only watched the game, they both played baseball as pitchers.
First was to find parking. There were no big parking garages back in those days. Parking was very limited and many fans parked in people’s yards, if they were lucky. I guess when you’re a kid it doesn’t seem like a big deal, ‘cause all you had to do was sit and wait until your dad found a spot. Okay, check. Then, you need to go through the turnstile attendance machine; check. I loved those things. Of course being even shorter in those days it was up to my neck. HA! Then – REFRESHMENT TIME! Coke, saimin, boiled peanuts – wait not all at once, of course. Well maybe; depends. Hmmm, the smell of the hamburgers brings back some good memories! Check. I remember some nights being so hot and humid. If only we had something cold and refreshing; a Ju-Mui Ice Pop perhaps! Shucks, nothing like that in those days existed. Although I can see our ice pops at the Aloha Stadium concession today. Especially since we already sell to high schools for their football games; they do very well with their fans!
Finally, our regular seats; check. Yup, same faces all the time; something I found very comforting as a child. I was always the youngest. I brought a friend once in a while, but they never really enjoyed the game the way I did. You see I loved Hawaii Islander baseball.
My favorite baseball player was Dick Phillips; I tried to get his autograph whenever I could. I loved the seventh inning stretch when all the players came to the dugout. That’s when I would lean against the wooden railing and get to talk to some of the players. It was awesome! My friends weren’t impressed. My parents were funny too. I remember those nicknames they gave each other. For instance my dad’s was ‘Nut’, because he loved to eat nuts. If it wasn’t for the baseball game I might have never found out what they called my dad. I only heard that at those Hawaii Islander games. My dad’s friend’s nickname was “Kusu” – though they never told me why?!
Then there were all that loose change falling under the stands where we sat between third and home plate. You see when people would stand up, then sit, loose change would drop from their pockets. I would run down the wooden stairs, go under the bleachers and get all those coins! Although I tried hiding from my mother, she found out what I was doing. Well, of course she did. Smile….just simple innocent stuff.
You would think with the food, the running down the stairs for the money, the
seventh inning stretch and autograph signing, when was there time to watch the game? But, I did just that; and, with lots of excitement and energy. We all had lots of spirit and cheering going on. I remember the organ playing….dunn, dunn, dunn, dunn. Dunn, dunn, dunn, dunn. I would try and guess if it was a ball or strike before the Ump called it. And then, there was a young Al Michaels calling the game. How can you miss that voice! Plus, my dad taught me how to keep score which was not an easy thing to do when you’re a grade school student.
Fans who sat by first base needed to watch out for foul balls when the lefties were hitting. It could be dangerous. I remember the Stadium having netting in front of the bleachers only in back of the catcher. Everything else was exposed. So, you needed to pay attention.
In no time at all it was the ninth inning and almost time to go home. I always felt kind of sad having to wait to see the Islanders play again if they were going on the road. But, soon they were home and it would start all over going back to the Ole’ Ball Game!