if you own a mariners’ bobblehead you’ll understand what kind of dedication goes into getting your hands on that shiny box. on closer inspection you realize ichiro’s uniform is discolored, or griffey’s bat is slightly crooked, but that doesn’t matter. what matters is you have the bobblehead.
as more seasoned mariners fans, we now know the drill. show up early, wait in line, get the bobblehead, go to dinner and come back for the game (preferably leaving after the 7th inning). and that’s exactly what we did a few weeks ago. but i have to admit the sideshow of mariners regulars was more entertaining.
the scalpers. i sat on the curb between safeco and qwest fields while c-biscuit tried to find a buyer for our extra tickets. instantly, i was immersed in a sea of chaos. a dozen ticket scalpers chasing down people with secret codes and hand signals. they played their own game. they knew the plays. “got tickets? need tickets?” the scalper club is predominantly black. the exception was an overweight white guy on a motorized chair. he kept driving to the stadium and back with stacks of bobblehead boxes at his feet. he’d pass them off to a friend who’d attempt to sell those with the tickets. at one point one guy shouted and six others followed him. they surrounded a family. the commotion was so loud i stood up to see what was happening. i admit, i thought a fight was about to break out. one scalper next to me nodded and said, “man, i don’t play like that. i just counts my money.”
the vendors. there is a lanky asian vendor. always dressed in a suit. in both hands he holds a bag of peanuts and with arms extended he bows and proclaims, “peanuts!” people stop to watch and he just keeps bowing and declaring his peanuts for sale. we’ve bought cracker jacks and kettle corn for $6 from the blind vendor. he patted my hand and asked, “put the large bill on top honey.” and as i did i said a little prayer that no one would take advantage of these proud men making a living.
the fans. to our right was a woman uberly decked out in mariners bling including – sneakers and acid wash jeans adorned with the mariners seal. her earrings, hat, fanny pack and jacket all officially mariners. to top it off she sat there eating her token garlic fries. down below we watched as fans threw balls to the back up pitchers for autographs. young hands eagerly reaching up receive their much improved souvenir. to our left, a dad repeatedly had his son run food errands. at one point he handed his son a $20 bill. the little guy marched up the steps and triumphantly returned, clutching a pepsi and the change in his fist.
we overheard the elderly usher talking to a dad and his two little daughters. the girls wore matching khaki pants and pink twins shirts. the usher gave them a little token from his pocket and explained he had been ushering since 1969. somewhere in the 3rd inning we noticed the dad, with a girl on each side, reading a book covered in pink fairies. despite their devotion to the opposing team, i felt lucky to witness that simply beautiful moment. and then i complained that i was bored and my feet were cold, and the mariners were losing anyway…