Rarely does a person have a chance to witness their favorite team capture the World Series championship.
-The gates were jammed at Qualcomm Stadium in beautiful San Diego, California. Fans appeared really enthusiastic despite the Padres trailing in the series 0-3. Josh and Sven met Steve Garvey near the will call ticket table in front of the stadium. Garvey signed both of their Pipedream t-shirts and exchanged pleasantries. Moments later, Josh noticed Rollie Fingers walking through the crowd. He seemed to be looking for someone and he was in a big hurry. Fingers denied them an autograph. Also, they spotted UCLA men's basketball coach, Steve Mariucci getting into a limousine. Other random observances: WFAN from NY posters held by a few fans rooting on the Yankees; ball players from 40s-50s were holding signs urging an increased pension for ex-players in financial need. People had their face painted half blue/half orange (Padres colors); some brooms were out. A couple of Yankees fans smelled a series sweep in the air; signs urging Darryl Strawberry to recover from cancer; A few people were shackled for selling counterfeit tickets; One guy had "F*ck the Yanks" written on his neck.
-Sven and Josh met Billie Perlmutter, the security girl outside of the stadium security office. She was from Chatam, New York and attended Binghamton University (Josh attended 1996-97). Perlmutter wondered why Sven and josh were standing outside the security window again. They were watching the World Series on tiny television monitors inside the office. Of course, she said they were crazy.
-The game was scoreless through five innings. Yankees hurler Andy Pettitte was pitching outstanding and Padres starter Kevin Brown was as equally impressive. The Bronx Bombers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth on a Bernie Williams ground out, scoring Derek Jeter.
-During the middle innings of the game, this guy named Dal joined Sven and Josh at the security window to watch the game. He flew in from Kentucky without any luggage or clothing for the sole purpose of collecting any kind of memorabilia that said World Series on it. Dal was going to take a flight out of the San Diego airport after the game. This guy was a real character. Dal worked with a dealer back home and said he could get $20-$30 for a ticket stub. He offered people walking out of the game early $5 for their stubs. Sven thought that he was never going to go away and he was right, he never left.
-The Yankees held a 1-0 lead after seven innings. Josh and Sven were a little nervous. The Yankees were six outs away from clinching the championship and none of the gates were open. The Yankees added two runs in the top of the eighth off of Kevin Brown thanks in part to an RBI single to shallow left by Scott Brosius and a sacrifice fly to left by Ricky Ledee. The stage was set for the Yankees to capture their 24th World Series championship.
-The plot thickens as Sven and Josh walk around to the front entrance of the stadium. There was a security guard watching everyone suspiciously as they hoped to sneak into the game. They were tugging out their hair because it seemed impossible to sneak in. The duo paced back and forth real fast in front of Gate A. Josh was irate. His childhood dream was unraveling before his eyes. The rare chance to see his beloved Yankees clinch the title was going up in flames. As the game headed to the 9th inning, not to worry. The Pipedream members didn't come this far to give up without a fight. Sven decided to walk around the stadium to see if there was another open gate. Meanwhile, Josh was determined to get into the stadium anyway possible. Frankly, at that point, he didn't care if the security guards saw him sneak in. If he had to sprint through the gate and hide in the bathroom that's what he was going to do. The security guard stood approximately 5 feet from the open gate. Anxious fans lined up outside across the length of the gate almost forming a barrier. Josh stood to the extreme left side and other fans urged him to just walk in and not look back. As soon as the guard turned to his left, Josh walked inconspicuously into the runway, which wrapped around the perimeter of the stadium and hightailed it to section 27.
-Meanwhile, Sven walked back to the same gate even more p*ssed off and noticed that Josh wasn't anywhere in sight. Naturally, he hoped that Josh snuck inside while he stood at the side of Gate A. The next time the security guard turned to his left he bolted in along with 2 other kids following him. Miraculously, they both snuck into Game 4 of the 1998 World Series separately the same way. Sven ran to section 27 and found Josh standing there. The two slapped high-fives and reveled in the moment. Sven introduced the 9th inning on videotape by saying, "it's game 4 of the World Series. Yankees are about to clinch. We just both walked in here for free. It's totally awesome! Check it out!"
-Sven tried to find a place to stand. Everyone was standing. He watched the final out from the third base side, while Josh walked down to the field level seats. He found a seat just to the right of home plate, stood on it, and video taped the final out. Rivera delivers a fastball. Mark Sweeney hit a one-hopper to third. Brosius backhands, takes his time, and makes a perfect toss to Tino Martinez at first base. The New York Yankees are the world champions. The best team ever won the game 3-0 and swept the Padres in four games. The bench emptied. The bullpen emptied. Rivera was mobbed by his teammates on the pitching mound. What a sight! Inning over. Game over. Series over.
-The Padres fans were very receptive to their beloved team. The enthusiastic crowd chanted Padres-Padres and thanks for a great season. Natalie Merchant's song, 'Thank You' could be heard blaring from the public address system. The padres' bullpen emptied out and the relievers walked across the outfield grass towards the infield and finally into the dugout. The largest crowd in Qualcomm Stadium history (65,247) waited around till the last member of team walked off the field. It was a tremendous gesture shown by loyal and appreciative fans. Other miscellaneous observations: on the giant auxiliary scoreboard in right field it read THANK YOU Padres; Green Day song played following the salute; The crowd badgers and boos Mariano Rivera as he jogs towards the visitors dugout; Josh walked through the field level seats and was mobbed by Yankees fans; He placed the camera on top of his head to tape anything in the lenses view; A few of the padres came back on the field to acknowledge the crowd; The place remained electric throughout the stadium as Wally Joyner, Steve Finley, and Jim Leyritz spoke a few last words. "We got close," first baseman Joyner told the fans, "and it was very special because of you."
-Sven and Josh exit the stadium and can't believe what they just witnessed. Josh spotted that collector/dealer, Dal waiting near the advanced ticket booth. Impressively, he collected a box full of stubs, newspapers, and other World Series memorabilia. Dal needed a ride to the airport. Josh asked him if he would part with one of his Game 4 ticket stubs for a ride. He told them about a post-game party located somewhere inside the stadium. The three of them started walking back into the stadium to find this gala. Somehow, Sven and josh were able to lose Dal. The tandem was distracted by their need for a ticket stub. Naturally, they walked into the outfield seats to find some. Inside, Sven spotted Peter Gammons in the next deck recording a show. They walked up the ramp, which led them right to the ESPN television booth. Chris Berman, Peter Gammons, and Harold Reynolds were taping their World Series post-game edition of Baseball Tonight. Berman talked to them between breaks as Sven applauded their efforts. Following the show, the three of them happily signed autographs on their shirts and Berman shook our hands. what a bunch of characters.
On this date fourteen years ago, an amazing dream came true.