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THE WORLD SERIES

'Our Time Now,' Say Jubilant Fans

October 28, 2002|Janet Wilson and Evan Halper | Times Staff Writer

From the shores of Huntington Beach to the parched chaparral hills of Cleveland National Forest, Angels fans basked in the glow of a World Series victory Sunday night and boasted that Orange County has finally bested its overbearing neighbor to the north.

"This is an unbelievable moment!" a hoarse James Thorn, 43, shouted as he rose from his seat at Edison International Field to the roar of thunder sticks and fireworks. After 42 years of taking abuse from Dodger fans, "it's our time now," he crowed. "All that L.A. superiority and all that stuff about the Orange Curtain. It all goes out the window tonight."

Primed by Saturday night's adrenaline pumping come-from-behind win, Angels fans were more than ready to celebrate Sunday's 4-1 win over the San Francisco Giants.

Most fans did so peacefully, but there were reports of a few unruly mobs roaming along State College Boulevard near the stadium, setting fires and creating havoc in the roadways. Anaheim police officials said they dispersed thousands of revelers at the intersection of State College and Ball Road who were trying to overturn cars and set them ablaze.

Beyond the street celebrations, Angels fans in the rest of Orange County said taking the World Series was more than a long-awaited victory for the home team, it was a watershed event in their lives -- and in the history of a county that has been lost in the tall, cold shadow of Los Angeles.

"We will be talking about this for the rest of our lives," said Anaheim Mayor Tom Daly. "I think this is an event that can unite a county and remind everyone about character, determination and class. The Angels showed all of those qualities this year."

In a fit of after-game pride, Daly called the Angels' triumph as significant as the opening of Disneyland almost a half-century ago. And Daly was not alone in saying so.

"I would imagine most people in the United States who never heard of Anaheim, now know who we are," said Fred Smoller, chairman of the political science department at Chapman University in Orange.

For the average Orange County Joe, the Angels' feat far outstrips the significance of the county's historic bankruptcy in 1994 and, in this era, even outpaces the notoriety of the tumultuous White House reign of the county's favorite son, Richard Milhous Nixon.

Smoller said that for a region without its own network television outlet, and without a unifying political personality like San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown or former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the Angels managed to do what no one else has done: unify the patch work of suburbia, ethnic enclaves and laid-back beach cities that define Orange County.

At the National Sports Grill in Santa Ana, Edgar Rodriguez, 24, was one of a dozen men who snatched at a line of shot glasses and guzzled tequila as soon as the game was called.

"Finally!" he shouted. "Orange County has some bragging rights in the sports world .... We rule!"

At another packed watering hole -- the sawdust-strewn Goat Hill Tavern in Costa Mesa -- speakers blared Gene Autry's "Back in the Saddle Again" while fans cried and danced and men kissed.

"I never thought I'd live long enough to see the Berlin Wall come down, and I never thought I would live long enough to see the Angels win the World Series," said Gil Wiggin, 62, of Costa Mesa.

Angels fans will gather for a victory parade Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Arrowhead Pond.

The parade route will run 1.3 miles from the Pond, to Edison Field's parking lot. The event will end about 1 p.m.

Many Angels fans throughout the county tuned into the game or took their seats at Edison Field with sky- high hopes Sunday night. They were not disappointed.

Moments before the opening pitch, Angels fan Scott Brown predicted a slaughter. Dressed in red shirt, pants and shoes, his face swabbed with red paint, the 37-year-old Fullerton resident resembled a walking fire hydrant.

"I am not predicting a close game," Brown said as he made his way to his seat in the Diamond Club. "After last night's game, I am confidant that it's in the bag.This team is just that good. They're just awesome."

Sunday night's drama struck a deep chord throughout Orange County and played out over booming home entertainment centers, car stereos and by word of mouth.

"Orange County has been bonded by this," said Michael Macko, 49, of Irvine. He watched the game from the Steelhead Brewing Co. "You know every single person in their car out there is thinking about the same thing, and it is all good."

*

Times staff writers Claire Luna, David Haldane and Monte Morin contributed to this report.

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