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It's Opening Day at the Big A--Its Big 25th

April 09, 1985|MARK LANDSBAUM | Times Staff Writer

In foul territory down the right field line in Aisle 52, Row K, Dave Fleisher held a broom with one hand and lunged to short-hop a baseball with the other.

It was a clean grab and nearly the first catch of a foul ball of the California Angels 1985 baseball season.

But alas, Fleisher made his bare-handed stab on Monday-- the day before opening day at the Big A.

So the 31-year-old Angels fan, a Lakewood resident and a stadium sweeper, simply grinned, stuffed the ball into his rear pocket and resumed sweeping.

Preparing Anaheim Stadium

Fleisher and about 70 other city workmen spent Monday preparing Anaheim Stadium for the annual arrival of Angels baseball at 7:30 p.m. today, (against the Minnesota Twins.

Except for the Angels in the field and the workmen in the stands, the stadium was all but empty Monday. The occasional crack of a bat from a practice swing was followed by an eerie silence rather than the customary cheer of the crowd.

In the bowels of the stadium's corridors and in its far-flung balconies, the haunting quiet was punctuated by busy little sounds of workmen preparing the Big A's concrete and clay for the Angels' 25th opening day, a silver anniversary. A commemorative logo has been designed especially for the occasion.

"Anything that can have the anniversary (logo) on it, has anniversary on it," observed concession manager Bill Corry standing in the Szabo Food Service souvenir warehouse, only a bunt away from where scores of pennants emblazoned with the logo hung in the concourse.

"Carnation Ice Cream is even thinking about putting out a 25th anniversary ice cream and Ol' Virginia (hot dog brand) is thinking about a 25th anniversary hot dog," said Corry, leaning up against shelves stuffed full of caps, T-shirts, pennants, mugs and seat cushions, all available with--you guessed it, the 25th anniversary logo.

The logo already stares out from the fences in left and right fields, from atop both dugouts and from the chests of Angels in uniform. It's on the cover of the official California Angels 25th Anniversary mail order catalogue and you can even get one on a patch affixed to the $12 California Angels infant pajamas.

Baseball is an institution, not a sport noted for innovation. So even in this, the Angels' 25th anniversary, there are no major alterations planned, such as last year when the red-clay infield dirt was replaced with brown, dirt-colored dirt.

There is, however, one change: a supplement to the traditional baseball fare of hot dogs and peanuts as concessionaires have added a "seafood bar" on the Club Level featuring crab salad and oysters on the half shell.)

To the old hands around the stadium, opening day is just another day at the office.

For all their symbolic importance, opening days just don't seem to have as much electricity as some other days of the season, stadium operations manager Bill Turner conceded.

The 35,000 fans expected today will be far less than Saturday's 62,000-seat sellout for a Dodgers-Angels exhibition game.

"It's the same old thing," sweeper Natalie Watson said, pushing the debris of Sunday's Dodger exhibition game ahead of her along a row of field box seats.

"They are all the same really," Corry said of opening days in general. "Our opening for the year was really February when we had the Truck Pull" (an event in which large trucks pull large weights short distances to the loud cheers of truck fans).

After the Truck Pull came the Super Bowl of Motocross.

"When you get through with that," Corry said, "baseball's a very simple thing."

But outside the stadium walls Monday, an impatient Norman Morris of Garden Grove stood under the midday sun in a line 20-people long to buy four tickets for opening day.

"We try to see every team once during the year, except Detroit," Morris said, getting in a good-natured taunt at Tigers fan Jim Cryderman of El Toro who was in line ahead of him. Cryderman, incidentally, didn't want opening day tickets. He was in line for tickets for Aug. 25, when his Tigers come to town.

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