Today’s 1:05 start brought back memories of the D.A.R.E. Day promotions that were an integral part of the Modesto A’s schedules for may years.
The majority of school districts since have ended their Drug Awareness Resistance Education programs, but at their height of popularity, the D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony day would fill the stands at John Thurman Field with more than 4,000 fifth-graders.
It often was an eerie scene. The stands would be full 45 minutes before first pitch, but because the students (and their buses) needed to get back to campus as certain times, the ballpark would go from a youthful sustained din to a virtual ghost town by the end of the seventh inning.
Yes, very much like watching at game at Dodger Stadium.
I remember one D.A.R.E. Day in particular. it was June, 1998, and since the press box had yet to be built, all media and game management was set up on the table tops above and at the far end of both dugouts (the tables remain to this day and are used as handicapped seating.)
Modesto got an early heat wave that year, and although there wasn’t a scoreboard at the time capable of doing anything but tracking the score, temperatures that afternoon hit triple digits shortly after noon. Many of the kids in the ballpark were swooning, as were some of the personnel working at the press tables.
One of the stadium service staff was kind enough to come over to the media area and offer to refill our drinks, so we wouldn’t have to leave the action and stand in the long lines at the concession stands. So I gave the young lady my one-quart squeeze water bottle, and off she went.
One inning passed, and then two, and I didn’t see her again. Finally, in the eighth inning, after the majority of kids had left the stadium, she came back to the media area, without the water bottle.
She apologized profusely for not having it, and said I wouldn’t want it back anyway.
I had to ask why.
“Well,” she started, “as I was walking away, one of the kids was getting sick and I didn’t want him making a mess all over the cement.”
That’s enough details.