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What's Red and 6 Blocks Long? Angels-Loving Mob

The faithful flood the streets of Downtown Disney for a pep rally on the eve of the opening World Series game. 'The curse is gone,' declares a player.

October 19, 2002|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

In what the master of ceremonies described as "a red sea of lava" nearly six blocks long, several thousand Angels fans took to the streets of Downtown Disney on Friday for a pep rally to usher in their team's first-ever World Series appearance today against the San Francisco Giants.

"The curse is gone," former Angels second baseman Bobby Grich told the cheering fans gathered for what was billed as "The Official Anaheim Angels World Series Pep Rally."

Grich continued: "The thunder sticks beat the curse right out of here."

The rally was conducted in true Disney style, with fireworks, confetti, live music, cheerleaders, a battery of huge video monitors and red Angels T-shirts almost to the person. There were paper hats with halos attached, a smattering of stuffed Rally Monkeys and 10,000 pairs of thunder sticks, the plastic, tube-shaped noisemakers that have become familiar symbols of the team.

"We started planning last Sunday night," said Tom Brocato, a spokesman for the Walt Disney Co., which owns the Angels. "This is a great celebration of America, which is what baseball is all about and what Disney is all about."

He stopped short of estimating how many fans were in attendance, saying it was "hard to gauge." But the company had brought 10,000 halo hats and 10,000 pairs of thunder sticks to give away, he said, and by 6:30 p.m. every last one was gone. "We wanted to create a lot of energy to rally behind our team," Brocato said.

In addition to Grich, the event was attended by former Angels players Kirk McCaskill and Mark Langston, as well as Jackie Autry, the widow of founding team owner and legendary cowboy singer Gene Autry. "You're the 10th man on the field," she told the fans. "So when we go out there to play the Giants, I want you to scream and bang those sticks till they can't stand it anymore."

Many in the crowd seemed to be getting a head start.

"I'm actually a Dodgers fan," said Richard Valera, 35, of Westminster, "but I wanted to be a part of this. I think the group of guys they have here in the Angels is great. They've brought excitement back to the game."

Carolyn Rosas of Ontario said she felt inspired by the team's first ascension to World Series play.

"It's about time," she said. "It's been a long time coming."

And Crystal Stevens, 19, of Orange, a psychic reader who with her husband had just spent $1,000 for a pair of tickets to tonight's opening game, couldn't gush enough about the team. "They deserve it," she said. "It's nice to see so many fans."

Did her psychic abilities give her any special insight into what lies ahead?

"They're definitely going to win," she predicted. "I feel good for the Angels. I think changing their color to red brought them to the next level."

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