I have been a Los Angeles Angels fan all my life, or least since I was old enough to know what baseball was. Of course back then the Angels were called the California Angels & they wore a blue cap with a lowercase a with a halo around it.
I have seen the California Angels become the Anaheim Angels, and then back to their original name the Los Angeles Angels. Players like Nolan Ryan, Frank Tanana, Joe Rudi, Brian Downing, Disco Dan Ford, Carney Lansford and one of my dad’s favorite player Rod Carew. I could tell you the starting line up from the 1979, 1982, and 1986 AL West Championship teams and also remember the heartbreak of 1982 (blowing a 2 games to none lead) and the infamous game 5 collapse in 1986.
My dad and grandfather used to take me to Anaheim Stadium when the Big “A” was in center field. I always wanted to be there in time to hear the National Anthem. I remember some lady used to ring a bell and call out the name of Carney Lansford when the rookie third baseman made his debut in 1979. I watched Nolan Ryan make hitters look silly until he took his talents to Houston (one of the biggest mistakes in club history other than Josh Hamilton and Dave Parker).
In1981 I moved to Florida and went away from my beloved Angels. It was hard not be able to see them play or watch them on TV. In 1982 I flew back in the summer to visit my grandfather and he took me to an Angels game on a Sunday afternoon, when the Halos played the Kansas City Royals. This was my first time seeing the renovated Big “A” that was changed to accommodate the Rams. In the game the Angels hit four home runs and Don Baylor hit his 200th career home run.
In 1983 I battle the stomach flu to be able to go to my first 4th of July fireworks show when the Angels again played Kansas City. It was the biggest regular season crowd in Anaheim Stadium history of 63,132. The game stunk as the Angels lost 5-1, but the fireworks were great. These were the first of many games that my grandfather would take me in the summer time. I remember being at the game when Rod Carew got his 3,000th hit off of Frankie “Sweet Music” Viola on August 4th, 1984.
A few years later I saw Don Sutton earn his 300th career win in a 5-1 complete game victory over Texas.
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In 1989 thanks to our special family friend Guy, my grandfather and I were able to see the All-Star Game and watch Bo Jackson hit a gargantuan home run to dead center, which landed less than 10 feet from where we were sitting. It was very special to be able to share this with my grandfather.
Then I suffered through the 16 year post-season drought, other than the 1995 one-game playoff with Seattle which the Angels lost 9-2. Then the next season the team changed their logo to the Angel Wings jersey which I never cared for. During this time my grandpa and I went to our last Angels game together as he was not able to travel much after that, which was sad, but he still rooted for the team from our home in Florida until he passed away six months after the Angels won their first World Series in 2002.
In 1999, I remember when Mike Scioscia took over as manager. It took a little time for him to turn things around, but it was worth the wait as I was able to be there with my two best friends when the Angels returned to the playoffs for the first time as they played the Yankees. We watched the Angels knock out the Yankees and move on to the ALCS against the Twins.
My best friend Dave and our other friend Dave got to watch Adam Kennedy hit three home runs in Game 5 and powered the Angels to their first ever World Series. I watched the first six games hoping for a game 7 as my friend Dave and I had tickets for the deciding game. When the Angels beat the Giants 4-1 to clinch their first World Series Championship and Dave and I were there with his dad and my close family friend Guy. Still one of the best moments in my life. I’m just glad that my grandfather was still around to see it happen, just wished he could have been there with me.
When the Angels changed their name back to the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) it marked a new era, the Arte Moreno era which has been checkered with good and bad moments. It was amazing to see the stadium close to capacity almost every night was such a switch for me.
The final special memory was the 2010 All-Star Game and other festivities such as the home run derby, Futures Game, and the Celebrity Softball Game. I was able to take my cousin Tyler, who is a huge baseball fan to the game as well as taking my Dad and Aunt to all the other activities.
I got a chance to meet Rod Carew and Tim Salmon and also got to shake hands with Hank Aaron and Billy Williams. My cousin got to meet Steve Garvey and my Aunt Lisa chased down Food Network star Guy Fieri to try to convince him to visit here restaurant back in Paducah, Kentucky, called Pizza By The Pound where they have a five pound and 10 pound pizza. She managed to give a note to a security guard who had stopped her and she saw the guard give the note to Fieri. The whole episode was comedy as she was yelling Guy at the top of her lungs and he did stop because of her and eventually got the note.
Unfortunately Fieri never visited the establishment. Even more tragic was in 2012 my aunt was killed in a car accident. She was a wonderfully special lady and I’m glad I was able to provide so much joy to my family, especially my Aunt Lisa. Yes the Angels have been something special to me for over 40 years through the good times and bad times in life and for the Angels as well.