Welcome to the first edition of 2014 Oakland A’s: Life of a MLB Season Ticket Holder. I’m Jen aka the original “Oakland A’s Socks Girl.” I’ve also had season tickets for well over a decade now. I sit down the third base line in Section 128, row two, seat eight, directly behind the Athletics’ bullpen. That’s my seat. I LOVE that seat. I could be buried with that seat and know that I died happy! My mom sits in seat nine and my dad in ten. Seat seven also belongs to the Rainwater family but being that my brother lives in Merced, CA, we usually have a guest. Technically we only have our season tickets for every weekend home stand. But lucky for my mom and me, the A’s have a great policy where you can turn in tickets that you aren’t going to use or that you didn’t use to be able to go to weekday games. So in essence, I usually make four to five games every home stand, which equals out to about 60 games per season.
So, each week I am going to write about how the week went in A’s land, talk about how it fits in or doesn’t fit in with my life and talk about all the really cool things that the fans in Oakland do! As previously mentioned, I sit behind the bullpen and call my Season Ticket Holder (STH) neighbors my “Bullpen Buddies.” One thing that social media has done to enhance the STH experience is connect us all.
There are four main parts of O,Co Coliseum where STH gather: the RF Bleachers, the LF Bleachers, 128-129 behind the Bullpen and the ladies-on-the-rail in section 119. While it used to be up to the RF Bleachers to plan silly events, the other sections have come together and gotten involved in the fun. Even the A’s organization has gotten into the spirit with us. They helped out with Josh Hamilton Appreciation Night in 2013, and at last year’s Bacon Day, they publicized it by putting bacon facts and bacon trivia up on the big screen! (I will explain Bacon Day etc in another post!) The organization also had two of us fans throw out the first pitch last season. I was one of the lucky ones, along with someone I will probably mention often, RF Will.
Of course there are those of us who dress up and take fandom to an insane level. The right field bleachers have their flags and their super heroes; LF bleachers have the Melvins Misfits, better known as Oakland Greenman, Coco Fingers and Oakland Vader; and then the Bullpen Buddies have me, the Socks Girl! (There are other noteworthy characters at the Coliseum and they will all be mentioned in time.) We have community tailgates, off-season activities and organized trips to see the A’s Minor League (MiLB) affiliates, the Single-A Stockton Ports and the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats.
There are quite a few t-shirt companies owned by STH. Most of them are fan-submitted ideas, so made by the fans for the fans. For example, Nike is not going to sell us a shirt that says “Nerd Power” to support second baseman Eric Sogard, so we take care of each other like that. I hope to one day have a sock company of my own, but that, too, is for another post!
A week ago Saturday was the A’s Annual Fan Fest. It has taken place at different venues over the years: Jack London Square, Oracle Arena, or the Coliseum. This year they combined it between the Coliseum and the Arena (where the Golden State Warriors play). This worked out very well compared to other years, especially since this year it rained! Of course, it is like every other fan fest out there. Fans can wait in line to get player autographs or pictures or take a locker room tour.
The difference is that the A’s have many other activities going on. The Question and Answer sessions take place all day. This year the Athletics decided to interview the “Personalities of the Coliseum” prior to starting the Q&A session with general manager Billy Beane and manager Bob Melvin. I was honored to participate, and while it was nerve-wracking standing up in front of all those other fans, I didn’t end up making too much of a fool of myself. I just had to talk about my socks, but I definitely found it to be an honor. Afterwards we were rewarded with a meet and greet with both Billy Beane and Bob Melvin! Another simply amazing part of A’s Fan Fest is Blog Fest. Each year 20 bloggers are able to have a private Q&A session with the team’s manager. Unfortunately, I have only been blogging since Spring Training last year so I was unaware of the sign up date and missed out. That will NOT happen next season! I have to get in on that kind of action for sure!
Overall, A’s Fan Fest 2014 was a great experience, and I was spent by the end. I was able to connect with a good number of my STH “FANily,” as we like to call ourselves, got to participate in and watch some Q&A sessions. My mom and I went down and took pictures in our seats, something we had really missed the past few years as Fan Fest had only been in the Arena. We also entered the silent auction that goes to my parents’ favorite charity, The Oakland Athletics Community Fund. I ended up with a bat signed by David Justice, who has always been one of my favorite players from his days on the Braves all the way to the A’s. In 2002, when Justice played in Oakland I had a sign that said “Justice Is Served” which I would hold it up every time he got a hit!
That is just the kind of people we are in Oakland. They say our fan base is small, but it has been called, by players and managers of opposing teams, the loudest ballpark in baseball. In Oakland 20,000 fans can easily sound like 50,000 fans. Just think about how it is when we sell out for the playoffs! Being an Oakland A’s STH is a unique experience that I am happy to be a part of. Even if it sometimes gets in the way of other activities, or one day you are just too tired for a game, you still make yourself go anyway. Those are just necessary sacrifices that STH in Oakland have to make. Dedication is one thing that we do not lack.
Now, I have given you guys a glimpse of how everything runs, a short description of what the fans are like and a peek inside A’s Fan Fest 2014. Next week’s article in this series will be on prep work it takes getting ready for the yearly trip to Arizona for Spring Training, and the following week I will be writing you from sunny AZ. I hope y’all will enjoy coming along with me for the ride that will be the 2014 season! Look for my 2014 Oakland A’s: Life of a MLB Season Ticket Holder articles every Monday here on Sports Unbiased!
Enjoy your week, and smile just because it’s baseball season!
xx ~ Jen