Strasburg ticket lines
Michael Kennedy lives three blocks from Nats Park in Southwest D.C. He's lived in Southwest for most of his 50 years. He loves baseball, and so do his mother and uncle. So he figured he might as well head over to the ticket office around daybreak to make sure he got his standing-room tickets.
As it turned out, Kennedy needn't have worried. When those 2,000 $10 seats went on sale at 1 p.m., there were about 250 people in line, each with the chance to buy just two tickets. So Kennedy could have shown up at 1 and been fine, but he didn't feel like taking chances.
"Because of the hype," he told me. "Because I thought I would give myself a better opportunity to buy a ticket if I was there earlier. Normally these things go without a hitch, and I wanted it to go just like that."
This time it went better than that. while making small talk with reporters and Nats employees, Kennedy told them about where he lived and his fandom. He met Stan Kasten. He told them all something like what he told me, when asked why he was there.
"I wanted to see it because of Stephen Strasburg, and I wanted to see it because of the electricity associated it, and because I'm a baseball fan," he said.
So a little while later, some Nats employees came out and presented Kennedy with three Diamond Club tickets for the Strasburg debut. Those are slightly nicer than the standing-room ones.
"It's just mind boggling that they did that; I really couldn't believe my eyes," he told me. "I'm not really sure what made them decide to do this great gesture that they did. I just know that I didn't know anything about it beforehand. And when I saw them in my hand, I was just speechless. It just blew me away. I accepted them on my mom's and my uncle's behalf, and I told them I'm sure they're going to be having a good time as well as me. I'm just speechless right now."
More tales from the ticket lines:
The Front of the Line
By 8 o'clock, I was told, there were about five people in line. By 11, there were still only 20. Some were students. Some were between jobs. At least one guy was bouncing back and forth from his nearby office, having others save his spot in the line. And all had the same basic quest: history.
"If this guy becomes the next Nolan Ryan, we'll all remember that we were here for this day," said Jeff Benedict, 49, of Great Falls.
"People who saw Babe Ruth, same thing," said James Buckner, 60, of Suitland. "You never know who he could be. And he could throw a shutout or a no-hitter, and that's history, too."
"Ten dollars for a Nationals game, you can't go wrong," said Spencer Patton, 21. "It's always exciting to chase history, and this could be one of the defining moments of the team. If that happens, I can say I was there. I don't plan on throwing this [ticket] away any time soon."
Some brought water, or lawn chairs. Some brought books about zombies or newspapers. Many brought sunscreen. Some discussed the Redskins while waiting in line. And some were just there for the heck of it.
"I'm not a huge fan," said Michelle Denion, 22. "I just like baseball."
There were a few especially interesting cases, and I'm not counting the scalpers, who were weeded out of the standing-room line and asked to go back whence they came by Nats staffers. (To those asking how you could tell, it really isn't that difficult, and it's the same people at every event in town.)
Like, I met Matt Gill, who just recently moved back to the area from Hawaii. When he heard that Strasburg was set to start on June 4, he accelerated his move by a week. Don't tell his wife that was the reason, especially since June 4 never happened.
Gill's a teacher, and he isn't rolling in money, but the $10 offer seemed perfect. So perfect, in fact, that after buying two of the $10 seats while wearing his "D.C. Intern" attire, he then put on a Nats jersey and waited in line for two more. Hey, he moved here from Hawaii for this.
Then there were Dustin Fox and his 10-year old daughter, Kaili. Fox took Kaili to see Michael Jordan as a Wizard when she was just 2, and he figured he should take her to see Strasburg's debut. He's been talking about it for weeks, at every stage of Strasburg's advance.
But when he logged on the day June 8 was announced, he could only get single seats. So he figured he'd buy the standing-room ticket, get Kaili in the door, then let her sit on his lap.
"She doesn't care," he noted. "She just wants to skip school."
The Grandstand Seats
Maybe the Strasburg demand is just about met, or maybe people have to go to work, but the line for the $5 grandstand seats (1 per person, must immediately enter the stadium at 4:30) had exactly one person in it at 12:30. It was Curt Wehrmann from Fredericksburg. He waited for a while, then got bored and walked around the entire stadium. When he got back, it was still just him.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "I figured what the heck, I want a seat and I didn't want to stand. I just want to see if I can get a ticket to see Strasburg pitch, see if he lasts an inning."
"If he doesn't, it'll be the most disastrous thing ever," said grad student Michael Diaz, sitting next to him.
"And we'll only be out five bucks," noted Joe Becker, of Rockville.
I waited with them for a while, but the line hardly grew. By 1:18, there had been about 316 people through the standing-room line, and seven people were sitting in the grandstand line. There were no riots, and no pushing, and no insanity. Just baseball fans waiting in the shade, talking about the Nats.
"We can start a fight if you want," offered Bill Clausen of D.C.
"Jello wrestling?" suggested Becker.
I decided to leave.
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