Monday, April 12, 2021

Baseball Fans Return to California Stadiums

Petco Park, San Diego. User thegordons on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Originally published on CalMatters.org, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. 

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Long before he watched the windup to the first pitch, even before he entered the Oakland Coliseum, Sergio Santillan of Hayward was already feeling emotional.

“I kinda wanna cry. I’m just loving it,” he said, beer in hand, perched on a cement divider in the parking lot.

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Last year would have been Santillan’s third year as an A’s season pass holder — but then it all came to a screeching halt. The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic triggered a California shutdown, and the season was postponed and then closed to live fans, who were replaced by cardboard cutouts.

“I was,” he said, “bitter.”

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Darby Nastasia, left, and fiancé David Baker, cheer from the stands. “ I cried a little bit,” said Nastasia of being back at Coliseum after more than a year. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters
Darby Nastasia, left, and fiancé David Baker, cheer from the stands. “ I cried a little bit,” said Nastasia of being back at Coliseum after more than a year. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

But last night, Major League Baseball welcomed spectators back to stadiums for regular season games for the first time since October 2019. The significance of Californians returning to a large public gathering — albeit masked and socially distanced, and stadiums at about a quarter of capacity — wasn’t lost on anyone. And it was underscored by an inescapable reminder: In the parking lot just behind the stadium, occupants in dozens of cars were lined up to receive their Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine.

For baseball fans who turned out at California stadiums to watch openers by the Los Angeles AngelsSan Diego Padres and Oakland A’s, the experience wasn’t exactly the same as before the pandemic. But the general consensus was that it felt good to be back.

Fans sit in “pods” of two or four during the game in order to maintain sufficient space between groups. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters
Fans sit in pods of two to four during the game in order to maintain sufficient space between groups. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

 

 

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Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is thrilled to call Coronado home and raise her two children here. In her free time enjoys hitting the gym, reading, and walking her dog around the “island.” Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com
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