When I was a kid, fireworks were a huge deal. On the 4th, we would go to a park overlooking the Back Bay in Newport Beach, CA. We’d stake out our spot early, listen to Vin Scully call the Dodgers on the radio (I still remember 1984 or 1985, when Orel Hershiser shut the Pirates out on the 4th) and wait for the show, which involved fireworks shot from a barge. Nice.
Occasionally, we’d get to go to Dodgers games where they’d have fireworks. Only there, the big deal (to me) wasn’t the fireworks. It was getting to go on the field with other fans, spread a blanket, and wait until they shut the lights out and the show started. That was a special occasion, truly.
Until I started working in baseball.
The first year I worked full-time in baseball, I saw at least 20 shows in the South Atlantic League. Keep in mind, I was doing radio at the time, so I got everyone else’s fireworks shows – and ours. The highlight (if you could call it that) was when we were in Kannapolis, NC. Brad Hennessey was on the mound for us, and he was a quick worker. The game lasted about an hour and fifty minutes, and the Intimidators (yeah, the Kannapolis Intimidators, named after favorite son Dale Earnhardt) had packed the place for the 4th. Do the math… the game was over before 9pm. It wasn’t dark enough to shoot fireworks off yet. So the Intimidators made one of the best decisions of all time: turn the beer taps back on, make an announcement, and sell more beer until the show.
For a front office member, fireworks are a good way to sell tickets. People love them. If you’re on the road, it’s a guarantee that the team bus is going to be stuck in traffic. Think about it: if you keep people at the ballpark for an additional 20 minutes after the end of the game, the post-game traffic is going to coincide perfectly with the team bus trying to get back to the hotel.
But back to the original topic. Too much of a good thing. I’m going to guess I saw 120 fireworks shows in seven seasons of baseball; some were excellent, some were flat rotten, and I’ve got to tell you I probably didn’t watch half of them. I used to absolutely pine for In-N-Out Burger, but after eating Double-Doubles in a stadium about three minutes from an In-N-Out for two years straight, the bloom wore off.
And, in this, my first season not working in baseball in almost a decade, I can tell you this: I am looking forward to watching fireworks with my family, not having to worry about what the other few thousand people with me are doing, whether it’s going to rain, whether we have enough beer, or whether the hot dogs are cold.
And I’d cut off my arm for a Double-Double, fries and a shake.
It seems like the best cure for too much of a good thing is none of a good thing. Enjoy the fireworks and fun, wherever you are.