The best tips come from sitting in a bar, don’t they? We decided to go to see a game of college baseball whilst we were knocking back a few quiet ales in Legends Sports Bar. Mike, the barman, a New Yorker with Irish heritage and now based in Honolulu, was an avid sports fan. I guess that’s a pre-requisite to work in a sports bar with about 10 TVs in a small space, all blaring out their respective sports. Mike gave us the heads up that the local university was playing on the weekend. Watching sport in the US is a big part of their culture and we really wanted to get to a game, so we bought tickets to the Saturday game (one of the final games of the playoffs) to watch Hawaii University V Cal State Fullerton.
It’s sometimes a little tricky to know where to buy tickets from but Mike was really helpful with a few of the key pieces of information that we needed.
We bought the tickets from Hawaii Athletics. The process was relatively easy and I could elect to get the tickets delivered to a mobile device or to pick up from the stadium. We paid $US15 each for a really great seat in the midsection. This included the cost of ticket handling and pickup.
We caught the #13 bus from Kuhio Ave, near where we were staying directly to Les Murakami Stadium, taking only about 15 minutes. A BIG tip though if you are planning to catch the bus home. DON’T. I am sure it was worse because it was Saturday night, but the usually fantastic bus service isn’t so fantastic after 11 pm. Even the taxis were thin on the ground. After waiting for about an hour and a half, with another Australian couple we met on the bus on the way to the stadium, we finally got a taxi to stop so that we could get back into Waikiki. Another 10 minutes and we would have been walking back. Not something I really wanted to do after midnight.
The game was awesome fun though and I was so pleased we went. Most of the stadiums we have in Australia are huge, so it was great to sit in this one that holds around 4,000 people. It provided a great atmosphere.
We sat just to the left of the batter, behind the netting. I have to admit to still jumping a few times as the ball skidded off the edge of the bat and came flying backwards at pace towards us, even though I know the net is there to prevent people getting hurt. So much other stuff happens at the baseball that you just don’t get to experience on live tv. I guess this is the case with any sport you go to. Little kids running around all over the stadium, too hyper to sit still, and clambering over seats to get to the front every time there is a “t-shirt throw”.
Just as we are getting used to the strange songs that are sung at breaks and the sounds that are made when a ball is thrown or a foul made, a couple of rogue voices in the far corner yell out an instantly recognisable ditty. Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi, as Andrew Jones the Hawaii University pitcher from Melbourne, takes the mound. A smile immediately comes to our face. We stand for the Star Spangled Banner and listen as the Americans sing it proudly, but then we sit down. Uh, oh….we’ve done something wrong as we glance around at everyone still standing. The Hawaiian anthem is being sung now. Back up on our feet, we get. We clap, we cheer (sometimes for the wrong team !) but it’s all great fun, and it helps with our understanding of baseball a little bit more. It’s fast, it’s strategic, it’s tricky just getting to first base, it’s confrontational (with the coaches and the umpires anyway), and it brings people together in a fun, family environment.
Of course, any visit to an American game of sport is not complete without getting right into the spirit by eating hot dogs and drinking beer and I am happy to say we gave it our best shot. The aptly named Warrior Dog came with a warning from the guys at the bar that it was the biggest hot dog I would ever see and that they doubted I would get through it. Not being competitive at all (not), there was no way I was going to miss out on that challenge. So, I lined up for my Warrior dog and a 32-ounce beer (that’s about a litre in my local language!) as though it was a regular Saturday occurrence for me. At least it’s one way of having a cheap night. Once you’ve eaten that much ‘dog and drunk that much beer, there’s no room for anything else.
Interestingly too, there is no way for ‘beer wenches’ to operate here such is the case at the major Australian stadiums. Before you can purchase any alcohol, you need to show ID (or just look a lot older than 21 ) and then get a wristband wrapped around your arm so that you can buy beer. Then you can only buy one beer at a time. I think it’s a great idea as it saves people getting so drunk that they cause you issues when you are just wanting to watch the game, saves people spilling them all over you as they cart four or more beers back in a cardboard tray, and serves to help with underage drinking as well.