Go Brow– ... Raiders?!
It was 20 years ago when the Browns schedule came out and my left-coast Bro called and hatched a brilliant plot. "The Browns visit Oakland this year, my buddy has season tickets and he can get me two. C'mon out!" That weekend of Sept. 24, 2000, was the sports vacation made in heaven. Both Bay Area baseball teams were headed for the playoffs. The SF Giants had just built a new stadium. I love Progressive Field but the new Giants stadium had some really cool features.
One of the outfield walls had a peephole built into it where people could look in at the action without a ticket. If someone hit a homer far enough out to right field the ball landed in the bay, where boaters vied for the souvenir. The concessions were uniquely Bay Area with garlic fries and cioppino on the menu. When many Italian fishermen came in from a day on their boats they would chip in part of their catch to make a delicious sea food stew that over the years became known as cioppino. It's not an actual Italian word but kind of a hybrid Italo-American colloquialism.
The new stadium was sold out every game but the Giants had clinched a playoff berth Friday night. Websites where people were able to buy and sell tickets were just starting back then and my brother snagged two for Saturday.
Sunday brought the Browns game. I've been to the Muni Lot for a Browns game. Get a good bark on and always keep a hand free to high-five strangers. As we prepared for our day at Oakland Coliseum, Bro asked, "Should we wear our Browns gear?" In the most prescient moment of my life I said, "Nah."
As we worked our way through the Raider tailgaters, what came to mind was a casting call for a Hollywood prison movie. The Aryan Nation section featured a man wearing an ankle-length jacket made of beer can pop tops. There's the Black Panther section (Huey Newton was from Oakland) and then the Mexican gang bangers, red or blue, Crips or Bloods.
As we entered the stadium I told the group, "I've got my ticket; I'll be able to find you guys later. I'd like to look around, take in the ambiance." When I rejoined the group they informed me that I missed some action. They took a guy out on a stretcher who had been hit in the head with a beer bottle because he wore an Andre Rison Browns jersey.
The Browns drew first blood on a Couch TD pass and my Bro and I looked at each other but decided to forgo the high five. The Raiders proceeded to score the next four TDs. After the fourth the jovial gentleman in front of me turned around and offered his hand in the air for his half of the high five and, what else could I do, I relented.
On Monday, Bro apologizes he couldn't get any more time off so I was on my own. So I headed back to the Coliseum hoping to catch an A's game. They were fighting for a playoff spot so I figured a last-minute walk-up would merit me a spot in Bob Uecker's "front row." To my astonishment I got a seat behind the dugout; apparently the A's weren't drawing well.
Wednesday, as he dropped me off at the airport, Bro continued to profusely apologize for leaving me on my own those two days. "Silenzio, don't ruin the vibe of the greatest sports vacation ever."
in my retirement I'm a nanny to my niece's two boys, ages 17 months and 4.