Here's the box score and play-by-play for the first A's game I can remember attending, in 1986.
My dad took me and Matt, a neighborhood kid, to the Saturday afternoon game. There wasn't much of a crowd for the A's-Jays matchup, featuring two teams that finished a combined 25.5 games out of the playoffs. I remember starting out in the first deck down the left field line, just under the overhang of the second deck. After a few innings, we were able to move down behind home plate, no more than 15 rows back.
The A's won the game 2-0, with four pitchers combining for a 2-hitter. Notable events/appearances (for me anyway) included 2 of Dave Kingman's 1,816 career strikeouts (ninth all time), Jose Canseco as a rookie (getting heckled by the home crowd, no less), one of Dave Stewart's 12 relief appearances as an Athletic, Carney Lansford playing first base and Tony LaRussa in his first month as the A's manager.
The differences between my first game and today's games are remarkable. As everyone knows, offense has exploded. In 1986, only one AL team cracked 5 runs per game, and in 2003 five AL teams eclipsed that mark.
While offense has exploded, the average fan's access to the live product has dwindled. In '86, we were able to waltz right down behind home plate. Last year, I went to a game at Yankee Stadium and was handed stubs for front row tickets behind home plate for the final two innings. The ushers barely allowed us into the seats -- Even though we had the right tickets, they knew we didn't pay for them. Besides increasing prices, the teams are more rigidly enforcing the rules that protect those prices.
We've come a long way from yesterday's brand of small-ball, fan-friendly baseball to today's baseball machine that produces revenue and runs. Where will the next twenty years of baseball take us?
Beats me, but I'm ready to go along for the ride. Let's just get this next season started already...
Does anyone else remember their first baseball game? Tell me about it.