"You get the biggest crowds in Dodger Stadium," says Gary Carter, "because you have all the glitz and all the glamour." Where else could The Peanut Man be a celebrity, collecting $2,000 in prepaid orders from wealthy "season-peanut holders," who then needn't fish for a dollar every time they call for nuts at the ballpark?
Where else could you find Mike Brito? Brito, the dapper, Panama-hatted Dodger scout, who stands behind the screen with a radar gun each game, is signing autographs during batting practice.
Where else could a player, during a game, wear stirrups without any socks underneath? Dodger reliever Roger McDowell is doing just that. Where else could a vendor call, "Hey! Evvv-iiiian waaaaater, heah! Hey! Evvv-iiiian waaaaater, heah!" as if he were hawking cold Buds? Where else could there be a doubleheader, as there is here on Friday, to make up for a game against the Philadelphia Phillies that was called on account of rioting? Where else could Lou Rawls—Lou Rawls?—be found schmoozing in the manager's office?
Only in L.A. On the Fourth of July, a man behind me at a Dodger Dogs stand drops a quarter that bounces off my sneaker. It is L.A. Kings owner Bruce McNall. (A rare-coin collector, McNall retrieves his two bits from the concrete.) The guy who played Starsky is sitting in the Club Level seats. And isn't that Richard Mulligan at the yogurt stand?
Everyone beats the Dodgers this season, and everyone tries to beat the Dodger traffic. But after L.A. loses 3-2 to the Phillies on Saturday—the Dodgers had swept Friday's doubleheader—virtually the entire sellout crowd of 44,418 stays for what the P.A. announcer calls "a pyrotechnical tribute to this great nation."
Before the lights go out, fans are ushered onto the immaculate outfield sod to better view the fireworks. Can you see this at Shea Stadium?
After seven days spent in sun-saturated, baize-covered ballparks, I have 60 feet six inches of sausage products in me. My body carries a processed nacho-cheese-like substance like most bodies carry blood plasma. I am in blue heaven, even if I never did get to deflate a beach ball. And then the pyrotechnical tribute to this great nation begins, and suddenly the sky is alight with the colors of the flag. All at once, the crowd breaks into God Bless America. All of us.
To be honest, I thought I was going to eat the salad right there. And if I had, I would have gone happy.