3hree Things: An Amazing Afternoon At Angel Stadium

Watch out for 3hree Things every Tuesday, where Riley Breckenridge, drummer of Orange County's favorite local alt-rock band Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California as an OC native.
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Those of you who are familiar with my writing probably already know how much of a baseball-obsessed dork I am. I was born and raised and Angels fan, grew up going to as many games as possible with my dad, played baseball for as long as I could (until my junior year of college) with the hope of playing pro ball one day, and nowadays I rarely miss a game on TV, radio, or by following the action on my phone. I'm an unapologetic baseball-loving Angels diehard through and through. 

I'd always dreamt of setting foot on the field at Angel Stadium, but realized it'd probably never happen because: a) I'm not a professional baseball player (obviously), b) I'm not capable of singing "The Star Spangled Banner" without sounding like I'm being strangled (not surprising), and c) I'd never streak a professional sporting event (because I'm not sure whether the hefty fine or being seen naked by 40,000 people would be more damaging and I'm not eager to find out.) 

Last Wednesday, in a moment that was totally surreal, that dream came true thanks to Twitter, music, and Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo.

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1) Making Contact

Trumbo joined Twitter a few months ago, and I noticed via some of his pre-game playlist tweets that we share similar taste in music. Knowing that he grew up in Orange County (Villa Park), I wondered if he was familiar with Thrice, and tweeted him to let him know that (if he was) I'd have to get him some new music as soon as I could. Well, he was, and apparently he's been a fan of the band for a while. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I got back to him and we started exchanging emails.

Those emails led to an invitation from Trumbo to come out to an Angels game early to watch batting practice. Now, my dad and I had been out to the stadium early a few times to watch batting practice from the stands, wrestle other Angels diehards for homerun balls, and have my dad show me the finer points of how big league ballplayers work on their swings in the cage before a game. But this experience, as I was about to find out, was going to be totally different.

My girlfriend and I headed out to the stadium at 4:30 to pick up what I thought were going to be tickets and passes to a section of the stands where we could watch the guys take batting practice without getting in anyone's way. We got those tickets all right, but we also got passes that said "field" on them. My heart started racing. 

We took an elevator down to the field level, walked down a red carpeted hallway (with the words "holy crap" running through my head the entire time, walked through some double doors, up a flight of stairs and there we were. On the field.

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2) Pre-Game

We posted up near the Angels on-deck circle, as the team did their stretching down the left field line and reporters milled about in and in front of the dugout. I just stood there in awe, looking around me, glowing, pinching myself, and trying to explain to my girlfriend how unfathomably awesome the whole situation was. I failed. I think. There was just no way to put it into words.

We watched the team take batting practice, got to meet Torii Hunter and Tim Salmon, and have a nice chat with longtime Angels Assistant Trainer, Rick Smith. After Trumbo got done with his work in the cage (crushing balls into the rock pile in centerfield), I gave him some music, he gave me a bat (which blew my mind), and we got a chance to hang out a bit and talk about baseball, music (he plays guitar and drums), and the similarities between life as a touring musician and life as a professional baseball player (there are many.) He couldn't have been any kinder. It was an unforgettable experience. I'm still buzzing a week later.

My girlfriend asked if Angels officials and security were going to have to drag me off the field kicking and screaming (which they might have, because I really didn't want the experience to end), but after watching the Texas Rangers take their hacks in the cage, we left the field without commotion, and headed up to our seats to watch the game.

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OC Register
3) Game Time

And making an unbelievable night even more unbelievable, in Trumbo's first at-bat of the night, he walked up to the plate to an old-school Thrice song, "To Awake And Avenge The Dead" from 2002's The Illusion Of Safety, and crushed a double off the top of the right-centerfield fence. (Note: The next night, with the same walkup music, he hit a walk-off, two-run bomb to beat the Rangers. I think the song's a keeper.) As if I needed any more reasons to root for one of the best players on my favorite team. Not only is he one hell of a ballplayer (with great taste in music), but he's hard-working, humble, and one of the nicest guys I've met on or off a baseball field.

My dad and I shared an incredible bond through the game of baseball, and more specifically, Angels baseball. He passed away in January. That entire afternoon and night at Angel Stadium on Wednesday, I couldn't help but think that he was looking down on me and smiling.


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Location Info

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Angels Stadium Of Anaheim

2000 E. Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, CA

Category: Music

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17 comments
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James Martinez
James Martinez

RB I have been attending Angels games with my dad since 75'. you're story hits me hard. you see RB, thee ANGELS are a part of my everyday life, my geneology, interwoven without really me noticing, because it is me.    I to have had the honor to be in Mark Trumbo's presnce, and what I saw was a young man who bust his ass, that is humble and in touch with us faithful locals in thee one and only OC. I had the chance to talk to him a couple of times before the season started, back in Jan. Now it's alot more difficult to get a few words with him and I have not been able to just say thank you Mark. Thanks for showing what dedication and busting your tail can do if you put all your heart into it. I am extremely happy for him and his family and would want to tell him we are very proud of you and Hank here in thee OC.

 Mark Trumbo has showed me that just because a road is long and sometimes things get in your way, does not mean that it will not happen, There no time to waste thinking or worrying about it. But instead to stay steadfast with self discipline, with your eye on the prize. Thanks for sharing this article with us RB. Oh yeah RB, anybody that can hang and make the college team deserves credit. I only played in HS,so to me it is a big deal RB, thats you!

pete
pete

I'm a fan of thrice and i've gone to a lot of home games. i was there for the rangers series and right away when mark walked out to thrice i was the only one saying holy moly its thrice!!

Niki L.
Niki L.

Awesome post. Trumbo is amazing and so is Thrice! I'll be wearing my Angels shirt when I come see you guys at the house of Blues!

Ashley Victoria Vinck
Ashley Victoria Vinck

What an incredible experience.  I can only imagine what that must have felt like your you. Awesome.  I kind of felt that way when I went to my first concert (a Thrice/Circa Survive one actually in San Francisco for my 17th birthday with my best friend back in 2008) and it was really overwhelming and I didn't want to leave ever.

Tracy
Tracy

Holy cow, Riley. That was the sweetest and most amazing story I've read in a long time. I cried when I got to the part about the walk up music and then completely crumbled reading the last sentence. So happy for you. Amazing story.

Your partners wife,Tracy

Michael Bradshaw
Michael Bradshaw

I'm a massive fan of your pieces, whether it be 3hree things, flip collective or interjections on hermitology but this piece in particular struck a chord with me. There's just something about the experience of being allowed access to the hallowed turfs of the teams we support. For me, going to football (soccer) games in the UK to watch my team with my dad is what Saturday afternoons are all about and I've come to appreciate recently just how much I love this part of my week.So when you write about that mind-bursting brilliance of walking out onto the pitch where you've spent so many hours watching, I know exactly what you mean in terms of the buzz, excitement and sheer incredulity at the situation. Great article, thanks for sharing.

Sebas
Sebas

I can relate to this post, being a huge soccer fan. Mixing both sports, family and music is something unique. I do go to my local team's stadium with my dad and I feel something special everytime we head there for a game. Cheers from Argentina!

zak
zak

Although not a huge baseball fan, this is still an awesome experience and your description of it made me smile. Trumbo sounds like a great guy. A pleasure as always, Riley. Thanks

Nanci
Nanci

What a great experience, thanks so much for sharing.  Another diehard baseball fan.

greg
greg

Manly tears shed.

Even if I am a dodgers fan

Randal
Randal

Hence the tears shed? Ohhhh!!! Just kidding. It was a great piece.

Andy
Andy

Great stuff Riley. I got to go on the field last Christmas. They allowed fans to take their Christmas picture at homeplate. My girlfriend and I got there early before security was there and the ushers just let us on to the field. For about 30 minutes, we ran the bases, took pictures in center field, practiced our windup on the mound, and launched imaginary bombs out to the rocks. Much like you my dad passed away that previous June. All I could think about was him and the great time we shared. Excellent story this week

Go angels!!!!

Min Lee
Min Lee

Just picked Trumbo up in my fantasy league. I'm from Minnesota, so I think it's very cool you got to meet Torii Hunter.

Lastly, in your last paragraph: "My dad and I shared and incredible bond..."I think you snuck an extra "d" in "and."

Love reading your blog. Thanks!

Thomas
Thomas

This is a really awesome experience, and well-told. Thanks.

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