Written in 2008, a recollection of my first professional baseball game in the summer of 1959. It was at old Seals Stadium in San Francisco. Over the years, we went to many games at Candlestick, before ATT Park was built. We also went to games at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, the LA Coliseum, Dodger Stadium, and Anaheim Stadium.
The Giants and Dodgers moved to California in 1958 as I recall. I went to my first game in the summer of 1959 at Seals Stadium, 16th Street and Bryant, in San Francisco. Seals Stadium was very small, seating about 20,000. It was right in the middle of a bunch of breweries, like Falstaff. It was also a pretty rough neighborhood.
My Aunt and Uncle from LA offered to take me and a friend up to San Francisco. They were going on a night club tour. My friend Phillip and I would go to the game that night. We were actually going to stay in San Lorenzo with his relatives. We even dropped our clothes off there, and headed into the City with my Aunt and Uncle.
They checked in to a Motor Lodge, actually only a few blocks from Seals Stadium. I think it was called the Franciscan Civic Center Motel. As things happened, we decided we would try to get seats for the game, and stay with my Aunt and Uncle in the motel room. So, after a dinner, who knows where, we got in line for bleacher seats outside of the left field pavilion.
As I recall, the wait was not long. Everyone was talking about this minor league sensation, Willie McCovey, since he was hitting over .400. We were able to buy two seats, and proceeded to watch the Giants take batting practice. I do not remember who they played that night. But they were in the National League pennant race, but did not have much pitching, other than their ace, Ruben Gomez.
During BP, several players hit the ball over the fence to our general area. One ball came really close. It hit someone in the aisle, then started rolling on the floor toward us. I missed it, but Phillip was able to grab it. Unfortunately, he grabbed it at the same time as the kid next to him. His parents prevailed and he had to give the ball up to this snotty kid. What a bummer. Our first big league game, and we should have had a ball.
Anyway, we saw a great game, but the Giants lost. McCovey got several hits, and it was fun to watch this big guy hit the ball. We stayed to the very end. I do not know how late it was. We were told to take a cab back to the motel.
But neither of us had ever done that before, so we walked back.
The motel owner was shocked that we walked back in the dark, through a bad neighborhood, at the age of 11 or 12. We got into the room, locked the door, and fell soundly asleep. Sometime that night, my Aunt and Uncle came back from their tour. As they tell the story, they could not get in since I had pressed a button that prevented the key from entering the lock outside the door. They had to get the manager, take a window apart, and get in that way. We missed the whole thing since we were sound asleep.!!!
While they were not upset with us, we did hear about it the next morning. I guess they tried to wake us, but we did not hear them. All was forgiven, when they took us to the Cliff House for breakfast. We got to see the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. We drove through Golden Gate Park. It was a glorious day.