Have a baseball road trip coming up? Well, in a bid to help you with your upcoming journeys, Big League Stew has solicited the help of the locals and this is our final stop. That's right, we've been hitting up our usual guest blogger crew to feature 10 tips for enjoying each of the 30 ballparks like the locals do. Have a suggestion in addition to the ones listed here? Make sure to list it in the comments below.
So you’ve decided to make a trip to Angel Stadium. Welcome! Whether you’re coming in the spring or fall and dodging cold weather where you're from, or coming in the summer and avoiding heat and humidity, Orange County will pretty much be the best escape any time of the baseball season. If it’s your first time in Anaheim, my guess is you’ll also be making a trip to see the former team owners over at Disneyland. It’s not too far down the road and making a combined trip of the two is a piece of cake.
Angel Stadium is an underrated gem of a ballpark. Many people don’t realize it’s the fourth oldest stadium behind Fenway, Wrigley, and the neighbors up the 5 freeway in Los Angeles. It was built for baseball, renovated to be multi-purpose for the Rams, and re-renovated to get back to its baseball-only glory. It’s a great place to take in a game, and I hear a lot of out of towners comment on the cleanliness of the place. (My wife would like me to mention that toilet seat covers are provided at the park. After visiting a few other states and their ballparks, this is something we’d no longer like to take for granted.)
When it comes to choosing your seat, you really can’t lose. There are some obstructed view seats on the 200 level past the right field foul pole, so avoid those if you can. Other than that, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. If you’re going to a day game (or a dreaded 4:05 game), the third base side will give you shade and the best views beyond the stadium. You can access the entire stadium from any ticket (other than the club level, of course), so touring the place is easy. I’ve been reading about how stingy ushers are at other ballparks as far as sitting in your assigned seat goes. That’s not the case here. Feel free to move around and enjoy the game from different spots. If someone with the ticket for the seat you’re in shows up, just move along to a new spot. Just don’t get too greedy.
In 2009, ESPN ranked the Los Angeles Angels as the No. 1 franchise in their Ultimate Standings list, which is basically determined by the bang for your buck. This was due in large part to the value of the fan experience at the stadium. From the opening video montage, to Build Me Up Buttercup, to lighting the Halo, a great time is to be had. Mike Trout is every bit as good as you’ve heard and worth the price of admission on his own. Hopefully these tips will help add to your experience at the ballpark.
1. Getting there: Get in the car. This is Southern California. You will be driving. Anywhere you go, everywhere you go. When relative distance is measured here, it’s always by a drive. So, don’t think something will be within walking distance because someone said it was “close.” The good news is that the stadium is pretty conveniently located when it comes to freeways, so getting there won’t be a problem wherever you’re staying (a trip to Southern California could mean you’re staying anywhere between San Diego, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, so I won’t pretend to have any clue where you’re coming in from). And, there will be traffic.
Yes, there’s an Amtrak station right in the parking lot of the stadium. Even if you take the train, you’ll be driving to get to whatever station you’re leaving from. And I’ll talk more about train options later.
Once you’re near the stadium, there will be ample parking. Parking in the stadium will cost you a very reasonable $10. Parking outside of the stadium will run anywhere between $5 and $10. You’ll see the signs for these lots as you exit the freeway. Although technically allowed, there isn’t much of a tailgating scene in the stadium lot (the rules are pretty rigid). If you want any sort of tailgating pregame, your best bet is to park in the lot south of the stadium off of Orangewood. Here you’ll find the most people hanging out before and after games, and the staple games of Ladder Ball and Cornhole.
If you do park outside of the stadium parking lot, DO NOT JAYWALK! You will get a ticket. Not might, not could. I can’t stress this enough, especially after visiting other stadiums and seeing the ease of crossing the street all willy-nilly. Take the extra 3 minutes and follow the crowd to the crosswalk. The jaywalking ticket is not a worthy souvenir.
Once on stadium property, meet at the hats. This is the spot to get together and form a game plan or wait for the latecomers. The two size 649 ½ hats are outside of the gate by home plate and will give you an easy landmark and a great entrance to the stadium. This is also where you’ll find will call if you’re picking up your tickets.
2. Food outside of the stadium: If you’re looking to eat before coming to the game, here’s where the Amtrak station can come in to play. Downtown Fullerton has a great variety of places to dine and the Metrolink stops by the Amtrak station that’s right there. You’ll have plenty of options, but I recommend Heroes Bar and Grill. You get pretty sizable portions, a wide variety of beverages, and it’s a great spot to check on whatever East Coast games have already started. When staying in south Orange County and taking the train north, Ruby’s Streamliner Lounge is an excellent option and part of a station.
If you are taking the train from any direction, check the schedule. I know that seems like it should go without saying, but if you’re used to a public transportation system that has trains coming every eight minutes, you may get deserted. Metrolink and even some of the restaurants offer train tickets at discounted prices for games, but they aren’t the same for each game, so check your options.
When foregoing the train and driving to the ballpark, you will have dining options surrounding the non-stadium lots on the north side, including fast food if you’re running late. I suggest providing yourself with plenty of time and checking out JT Schmid’s Restaurant and Brewery. Here you’ll find a great variety of entrees and, as the name suggests, craft brews. Also, if you dine at the restaurant, parking for the game in their lot is free. It’s an easy walk from there to the stadium, and gives you a good postgame plan.
This lot is also the home of 714-TICKETS. If you’re looking for tickets on the secondary market, this is a good local way to go, as you can pre-order your tickets online or by phone. If you do this, you are able to eat, park, and pick up your tickets all in the same spot before the game. For those of you who like mementos for the scrapbook, 714-TICKETS gives you real tickets on pickup, so you don’t have just the ticket from your printer as a keepsake.
3. Food inside the stadium: As you might recall, Angel Stadium was the host of the 2010 All-Star game. As a lifelong fan of the Halos, this was wonderful. Not because of the game, but because it ushered in Angel Stadium’s new world of food. Now my friends, there are options. Of course there is the standard ballpark fare, but now there is a whole lot more. If you’re afraid to venture out or have a picky eater with you, Jack in the Box and Panda Express are in the stadium. Have someone who needs ballpark pizza? Nicky Enzo’s is available. When it’s time for dessert, hit up a Sweet Spot. Melissa’s Fresh For You will satisfy any vegetarian needs (including veggie dogs), and Chronic Tacos will satisfy a hankering for Mexican food. Really, you have your options.
The most stadium specific food available is definitely Clyde Wright’s Tennessee Bar-B-Que. Clyde Wright is a former pitcher who played for the Angels amongst other teams, and threw the stadium’s first no-hitter as a Halo in 1970. He’s also originally from Tennessee. His menu offers what you would expect from a legitimate BBQ joint, with beef, pork, and a variety of sausages. Their locations are off of the entrance on the third base side and on the deck beyond centerfield.
The craft beer selection isn’t at all bad. If you don’t see something you like at a certain spot, just move along. I’m sure you’ll find something while you’re at the park. There are standard domestics, but different stands all over the stadium will give you more options. Goose Island from Chicago has its own spot in the stadium and their craft beers change seasonally. The Southern California company Hangar 24 has its own cart as well.
If you’re the type that likes to attend sporting events and drink beer with absolutely no view of the playing field, then the Coors Light Centerfield Bar is for you. It has plenty of TVs showing sporting events, including the event you’re at. This is beyond centerfield and under the seats in right center. Yes, the bar serves Coors Light, but it has a wide variety of options, so don’t feel like you’re limited.
You can also bring in your own food, and the centerfield patio has good table seating if you don’t want to do the food-in-lap thing with the fam. If you plan on using the patio, get there early and do it for pregame. You won’t have any view of the field from the picnic tables.
4. Check out the history: Since purchasing the team, Arte Moreno has done a great job of intertwining Angel history and the stadium. There is no one spot in the stadium that has this, so as you venture through the park make sure you take in the timelines, Angels HOF, and the trophy case for the 2002 World Series team. You’ll even find a picture of a smiling Mo Vaughn in an Angels uniform.
Visit the statues of Michelle Carew and of The Singing Cowboy Gene Autry. Both have their imprints on the team and the world for different reasons, and the statues are worthy tributes.
If you want more history, check out the ballpark tours. You get pretty good access and it’s only $7. That is by far the best ballpark tour price that I have seen.
5. Merchandise: For better or worse, there aren’t many merchandise options directly outside of the stadium. Other than one or two guys selling pretty plain hats and shirts, your only options are inside. This means you’ll be paying stadium prices for your mementos.
The Angels actually do offer a pretty cool variety of merchandise, especially for being in the stadium. My advice, do not commit to the main Angels team store. Yes, the most stuff’s in there (including the low price “Family Value” merchandise), but don’t sell yourself short on the specialty merchandise stores in the stadium. There is a spot for just hats at the New Era store, Oakley has it’s own store, and Angels Authentics and the 47 Brand store offer more in the vintage/throwback variety (I prefer the lower-case “a” logo myself).
6. Bring the kids: Angel Stadium is a great place to bring the family. The crowd rarely gets out of hand, and kids of all ages are seen throughout the park. The screens on the outfield walls are always busy with something between innings and the park itself is a very welcoming environment.
Under the seats in right on the field terrace level is a kids play area. This is where you want to take the young ones when they’re getting restless. Here, they can test the speed of their pitch and play video games ‘til their heart’s content. You can also see pictures of Angel players when they were in Little League along the wall, which is always hilarious.
The Coors Light Centerfield Bar and other beer stands are (awkwardly? ironically? conveniently?) located very close to this kids play area.
7. The Rally Monkey: Yes, those of us in Anaheim love the Rally Monkey. No, none of us can explain to you why or exactly what it does. A video comes up of some random movie scene, we watch intently, the monkey noise that I have no idea how to replicate in this article comes on, we all cheer, and then the pay off is to watch the monkey go crazy to House of Pain. You’ll most likely see many a fan with their Rally Monkey stuffed animals as well.
There are rules that go along with the Rally Monkey. You won’t see him before the seventh inning, and the Angels can’t have the lead or be trailing by more than four. There used to be more rules (had to have a runner on, not used on a pitching change) but I’ve had experiences where those are broken. I guess the Rally Monkey is still evolving.
For Angel fans, we want to see the Rally Monkey, but we also want to be winning, so there’s always a dilemma. If you’re visiting from out of town, my guess is you’re a fan of another team and are here to see them play the Angels. In this case, the Rally Monkey is a win-win for you. Your team is in the lead and you get to laugh at the Rally Monkey clips. You can feel free to get out your seat and jump around even if you didn’t come to get down.
8. Check the event calendar: Angel games are chock full of giveaways and events. So much so that I get surprised when nothing other than the game is going on or I’m not handed something at the gate. There are numerous bobblehead, hat, bag, shirt, and blanket giveaways. There is also a summer concert series that has relatively big acts performing on the field after the game.
If you really want to be a part of something ridiculous, you can try and be at the stadium for a Guinness World Record night. This normally involves a wig, mask, or poncho giveaway, and everyone is encouraged to wear them together for a certain amount of time. No, your name won’t appear in the Guinness Book of World Records. But it will be an official record, and you can say you were there. Keep your ticket stubs just in case people don’t believe you.
Friday nights are known as Big Bang Fridays. There is a concert in the Music Garden before the game, and a firework show after the game. In a city where there’s a firework show every night at Mickey’s house, the pyrotechnic standards are pretty high. Big Bang Fridays are definitely the best-show-in-town-that-doesn’t-include-a-live-action-Tinkerbell. It’s a fun time and there’s usually a great turnout. (Seriously though, if you’re going to Disneyland and a Friday night game, see the stadium fireworks first. Otherwise, a letdown is inevitable.)
9. Wear your colors: I know Angel fans won’t really like me promoting this, but just non-locals are reading this, right? Besides, the cat’s out of the bag. Angel Stadium is a great place to wear the visiting team’s uniform. The fans are great and you generally don’t have to worry about getting any sort of harassment. Not only that, but Southern California houses transplants from all over the country. No matter what team is in town, there are always fans around representing that team. You won’t be alone. Heck, even the Astros had a pretty good fan turnout for their first series in Anaheim as an American League team.
But please, no team name jokes. Yes, they’re called the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I’m not saying this because we can’t take it. I’m saying this for your sake. We don’t care. Arte Moreno has done enough good that we look past the silly moniker. Even the city dropped its lawsuit over it. If you really want to get our goat, stick with lines about being overpaid and underachieving… like it’s not obvious.
10. The amusing Angel twitterverse: Like a lot of teams, the Angels have a very large twitter presence. The best part is that there are different types of Angel twitter handles to follow. For beat writers, follow Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (@jefffletcherOCR) and Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (@Alden_Gonzalez).
The Angels television broadcast team has a unique twitter presence. Victor Rojas (@VictorRojas29) is very active, pretty funny, and interacts well with followers. His broadcast partner, former pitcher Mark Gubicza, doesn’t have a twitter. But you know what does? His ties. Yes, there is a Mark Gubicza tie parody account (@GubiTies) keeping you up to date on the type of entertaining tie he is wearing that day, along with other funny anecdotes.
One good thing about an underachieving team in the last few years is that an irritated Mike Scioscia makes some pretty great faces. Angel fans have taken note. Follow #SciosciaFace, and you’ll get a lot of posted pics of our manager being his lovable self. But when the Halos do win, follow #LTBU (light that baby up) and get all of the twitter recaps of the game.
Yes, there’s more. No, I’m not going to list every single Angels baseball related twitter account.
And, the stadium has phone charging stations on the field level, so if your phone runs out of juice, that is available to you.
Now you’re heading to your car. If you want postgame talk on your radio, AM 830 is the station for the Angels, and Terry Smith does a great job. He’ll recap the game, and touch the out of town scoreboard so you’re not out of the loop of all things baseball. Hopefully you’ll be able to check out the lit halo off of the 57 freeway. Before the world of smartphones and score alerts, I would keep my radio off if I was in the area and drive by the halo to let me know if the Angels won or not. Lighting the halo is a pretty great tradition. If you happen to be in town when the Angels are not, the halo is lit for away wins as well.
On a final note, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that longtime Angel Stadium public address announcer David Courtney passed away last off-season. He was a staple for 18 years and is truly missed. Mike Araujo has since taken the reins, and the organization did a fantastic job in finding the new voice of Angel Stadium.
Whether you’re visiting the stadium as your primary destination, or making it a part of a bigger Southern Californian adventure, I hope this guide can help you while you’re here. From one baseball fan to another, this truly is a great spot to enjoy The National Pastime.
What are your favorite tips for a trip to Angel Stadium?
You can follow Craig Shibley on Twitter (@The2ndBedroom). He's such a big Angels fan that he proposed to his wife on home plate at Angel Stadium.
Previous parks: Citi Field, Marlins Park, Great American Ball Park, Petco Park,Comerica Park, Progressive Park, AT&T Park, Rogers Centre, Wrigley Field, O.Co Coliseum, Yankee Stadium, Coors Field, Minute Maid Park, Fenway Park, PNC Park,U.S. Cellular Field, Safeco Field, Target Field, Rangers Ballpark, Camden Yards,Turner Field, Nationals Park, Kauffman Stadium, Tropicana Field, Dodger Stadium, Miller Park, Chase Field, Busch Stadium, Citizens Bank Ballpark