The Dodgers had Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and the Brooklyn Cyclones have — Keith Olberman?!? It’s true!
Back in the Dodgers heyday at Ebbets Field, Bogie was known to take in a game with his wife. But let’s face it, the Dodgers of the ’50s — a major league team — were a major league draw.
And while our beloved single-A Cyclones are selling out every night, they haven’t quite brought out the kind of star power familiar to Ebbets Field. Sure, Spike Lee’s been by a couple times, but it appears as if Cyclones management will have to bring out the big guns in order to get the bigger guns into the stands.
To that end, the team held John Franco Night Monday, to honor everyone’s favorite Brooklyn-born left-handed reliever.
So there they were, the stars in all their glory: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Mets second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo,
Councilman Marty Golden and creating a buzz in the press box, former ESPN and current FOX Sports anchorman Keith Olberman — there to do some play by play for the local cable channel.
Well, maybe it wasn’t a big Hollywood premiere, but as Coney Island goes — or has gone for the last 25 years — it wasn’t all that bad.
But the appearance of big stars — and a noticeable lack of big league players — aren’t the only things that differentiate Keyspan Park from the Dodgers’ home. There’s another type of person that you’d be hard-pressed to find milling about outside the park — ticket scalpers.
While I never saw it for myself, I’m sure the power of the invisible hand — profit, that is — motivated someone to sell his 1955 World Series tickets outside the stadium to some poor soul who actually thought the Bums could beat those Yankees.
“Suckah,” he must of thought just after accepting his marked-up price. “Dem Bums’ll nevah win it.”
But here at Keyspan, the scalpers are few and far between, and with good reason.
“The tickets have little or no mark-up value,” said a guy on Surf Avenue selling Cyclones hats and shirts — a guy who may or may not have dabbled in the illegal practice of hawking tickets for well above their face value. “If a ticket sells for 10 bucks, what are you gonna sell it for? 12? 15? There’s no profit margin.”
Not even on John Franco Day — when a real live big leaguer is in the house and they’re giving away bobblehead dolls in his likeness.
“The demand’s not there,” he concluded. “No way.”
Even on the Steeplechase Boardwalk, jutting so far out into the Atlantic that one would suspect the laws of this city wouldn’t apply — where freshly caught crabs and fish go for pennies — no one was selling any tickets. You could, though, buy a live seahorse there, if you were willing to part with seven bucks.
Now, legally, no one should be selling tickets (and endangered seahorses, for that matter) anywhere — at least without a license. New York City law requires that anyone wanting to sell tickets to an event in the city register with the city before doing so. After that, tickets can be sold for $5 or 10 percent more than the ticket price — whichever is greater. But they can’t do it within 1,000 feet of the establishment where the event will take place.
Still, down at Nathan’s — possibly far enough away from the stadium to legally sell your ticket— scalpers were still nowhere to be found.
“I’ve seen people selling them,” said one vendor at Nathan’s. “But it’s pretty rare. I think you can buy them from the guys selling the hats.”
“No, not me,” the paraphernalia salesman told me. “I told you, you can’t make a profit.”
But can I get them anywhere?
“Yeah,” he said. “There’s a big giant guy who stands on the corner over there. He’s usually got them.”
No such luck. With game time nearing, it appeared as if said giant man had disappeared. Tickets, as any good scalper knows, go down in value drastically after the first pitch is thrown. And I’m told they’re rendered worthless after the game ends.
Still, there were some goings-on of note right there in front of the stadium. One guy asked me if I had any tickets to sell — a sure sign that he was a scalper. When I questioned him about it, he quickly backed off.
“I need them for my kids,” he said, despite the fact that these “kids” of whom he spoke were nowhere in sight.
When I saw him head over to the ticket booth to legally purchase the passes, I felt I had wrongly accused him. Possibly, he did want them for his kids, but he wanted them at a discount.
But some fans want to take things a bit further.
“You got any extra tickets?” one fellow in Dodgers garb asked me.
I told him I didn’t and questioned whether he knew where I could get some tickets.
“Right over there at the ticket booth,” he said.
The ticket booth? Well why wasn’t he waiting on line?
“I don’t want to deal with the ticket booth,” he said. “Right here, some guy’ll give me tickets for free. Why should I have to pay for them?”
Why indeed? I wasn’t. I had a press pass, and so did Keith Olberman.
Save the Fourth Estate
Relax folks and quit your worrying: the press (including the aforementioned Keith Olberman) are completely safe.
During Monday night’s game against the New Jersey Cardinals, a batted ball was fouled back into the press box, just over the head of the “Voice of the Cyclones” Warner Fusselle, shattering a window into thousands of pieces.
Acting as if nothing happened, Fusselle continued broadcasting the game while myself and writer Ed Shakespeare (yes, that’s his real name) shook the glass out of our hair.
Surprisingly, Shakespeare, who’s been to just about every game at Keyspan to research a book he’s writing, told me it wasn’t the first time glass in the press box had been broken. In fact, he said, it had happened twice before.
And a few innings later, it happened again. This time, on the opposite side of the press box by our good friend Keith Olberman, who was sitting quietly when the ball zipped past his legs and smashed a window behind him. Once again, no one was hurt.
The glass, we were later told, is made to shatter, but not shard.
“You could have been sitting directly underneath it when it happened, and the glass would not have cut you,” a Cyclones employee told me while he was sweeping it up.
Or, I would have caught the ball.
August 27, 2001 Issue
©2001 Community News Group
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