November 24, 2012
Ok it is not baseball season yet and many of us are thinking about the holiday season. I am really sympathetic for ball hawkers and baseball fans experiencing the effects of Sandy and the cold weather on the East coast. Many of us in California are praying and contributing to efforts to help in the recovery of those who may have lost everything. The coming of spring and the baseball season is something many of us can't wait for to start.
With the nice weather in Southern California, the Los Angeles Angels' of Anaheim Groundskeepers hosted the 11th annual Thanksgiving Holiday Canned Food Drive from Friday, November 16th thru Sunday, November 18th at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Angel fans were given the opportunity to swing against a pitching machine, test their pitching skills in the bullpen, shag fly balls in the outfield. As a fan this was quite the experience. I was able to go on field and play on the same field that the Angels play on.
When I left Riverside to drive to Anaheim, on Sunday afternoon the 18th, I was hoping that they were not going to cancel the event because it had rained during parts of the weekend. When I arrived at the stadium, Anaheim was picturesque. I spent 3 hours living the dream of playing on the same field as the Angels. My goal was to catch balls on the fly and field ground balls from fans batting, which I was able to accomplish. I spent more than the 15 minutes shagging flies from the pitching machine launching balls into the right field corner near the foul pole. The Angels personnel were very friendly and cordial. They were able to spend time talking and working with those who participated on the field. They literally went out of their way to accommodate kids and adults. The stadium had football games on the big screen.
At the stadium, fans could donate three cans of non-perishable food or $2 for one swing against a pitching machine, a $1 per pitch in the bullpen, and shag flies for 15 minutes from a pitching machine for $25. The Angels provide bats, balls and helmets. The Clubhouse Attendants provided a tour of the Clubhouse for $10. Simple concessions were sold prior to entry by volunteers. All proceeds benefited the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County in their fight against hunger during the holiday season.
This was a great event for Angel fans, even though they did not make the playoffs. I got to live of a little bit of my childhood dream by playing at Angel's stadium. This was an unforgettable experience and a privilege to enjoy. Fans got to help the less fortunate and enjoyed having a fantastic baseball experience before the holiday season. Again our prayers are with those who are recovering from Sandy and those who are in need during the holiday season.
Lou Beechen is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.