By Marcia E. Gawecki
It’s too bad that the LA Times doesn’t cover college baseball.
The UCLA Bruins have made it to the NCAA Super Regionals, and if they win tonight, they’re headed for the College World Series.
So Bruins fans are forced to follow their team by other means, such as streaming on UCLA’s web site (www.uclabruins.com) or Bruins Nation, a blog site that’s manic about all UCLA sports (www.bruinsnation.com). And since the Bruins have made it this far, tickets are hard to come by. Forget finding them on eBay.
So that left one Bruins fan from Idyllwild with only one thing left to do: Go to the game and stand outside the fence.
On Friday afternoon, Jeffrey Taylor, Green Cafe Internet (and a UCLA Chemistry major), went to the Jackie Robinson Baseball Stadium in Westwood. Since 1981, UCLA has called Jackie Robinson its home stadium.
“It was the best time I’ve had all year,” exclaimed Jeffrey. “The place was packed, and everyone I met was talking UCLA baseball. There was a definite electricity in the air.”
Since Jackie Robinson Stadium, with only 1500 seats, is located on the grounds of the Veteran’s Administration, many of the fans at Friday’s game against TCU were military veterans.
“I think Jackie Robinson must’ve made it a provision that veterans get tickets to see the games,” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey took his camcorder along with him and captured the game. But he also got some candid interviews with veterans he met standing outside the fence.
Jeffrey plans to post the interviews on his Green Cafe web site (www.greencafe.com), and show before his Movie Night on Friday at 7 p.m. in Idyllwild.
“I fought in Vietnam, and was proud to serve my country,” one vet said. “Now I have cancer, but I’m not down about it. I just take it day by day”
Then he broke into a wide smile and said, “But tomorrow, I got a ticket to the game!”
Jeffrey met another veteran who has been a Bruins baseball fan for years. Even before the team was hot, he would watch them every Tuesday night.
“It used to be that you could get any seat in the stadium,” he said. “Now, it’s not so easy.”
As Bruins baseball fans, the lack of tickets didn’t matter. They came to see the game.
“I could have paid $25 to stand behind Center Field looking through a peep hole,” Jeffrey said, but he found a better place standing with about 25 others on the grass looking over Home Plate.
LA police officers would drive by occasionally, calling out for scores, and cheering when they were ahead. Jeffrey, who was double parked, only got a smile from one of the officers who asked about his truck.
“I just wanted to see the game,” Jeffrey said, avoiding a ticket.
He met several others, including professors and former college baseball players, all hanging outside the fence.
“Their play-by-play was better than any announcer,” Jeffrey said, marveling at how much the fans knew about the players and the game.
“They were using terms that I didn’t even know of,” he added.
Dennis Wohlman, the uncle of Bruins outfielder, Beau Amaral, lives in Idyllwild, so Jeffrey took a video of Beau at bat.
“Beau got out, but his hits allowed another player to steal second,” Jeffrey said.
The Bruins beat TCU 6-2.
Before the Bruins made it to the Super Regionals, the only way Dennis could have watched his nephew play was to go to the game and watch outside the fence like Jeffrey did. But now, the Super Regionals are televised.
“Just our rotten luck, the Bruins are playing tonight, opposite the Stanley Cup Finals,” Jeffrey said with a groan.
Yet, the LA Times has covered all of those hockey games.
If the UCLA Bruins win tonight against TCU, then they’ll go to the College World Series in Omaha. If not, then they play again on Sunday.
“Next to Cornhusker home games, the College World Series is one of the biggest events of the year in Omaha,” said Jeffrey.
Of course, College World Series tickets are impossible to get too. But, the games will likely be televised. And the daily newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald, will cover the games. So UCLA Bruins fans can follow their team to victory across the country.
However, if the LA Times had covered Bruins baseball, then maybe Jeffrey would not have made it to the game. He would have missed the camaraderie and a chance to clear his head from business for one afternoon.
“After the game, we were all best buddies, cheering and giving High Fives,” Jeffrey said. “No one wanted to leave. They just wanted to linger for awhile.”
But he’ll likely get season tickets for Bruins baseball next year.
“Where else can you watch a game for under $10, and with hot dogs only costing a buck,” Jeffrey said.
Bruins vs. TCU at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 tonight.
Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.