Baseball's first fans of 2020 see Dodgers-Braves NLCS opener
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Scott McIlroy held out his left hand as a punch training home run rattled off a railing and struck him in the palm of the hand. The ball bounced in the air before settling back in its grip as he held a cell phone in his right hand.
Count the Texas-based and Los Angeles Dodgers fan among the first to receive a pre-game souvenir in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season - and the first to buy tickets to watch live baseball in Game 1 of the National League Monday night See Championship Series.
Major League Baseball announced that it is selling 11,500 tickets per game at Globe Life Field for the series between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves and plans a similar allocation at the same stadium when the first neutral-based World Series takes place on October 20. McIlroy got a call from a friend who knows the longtime Dodgers fan about making the two-hour drive to the Dallas area.
The announced attendance was 10,700, excluding those who did not pay. Ticket prices ranged from $ 40 to $ 250 for the NLCS and $ 75 to $ 450 for the already sold out World Series.
About 75% of fans appeared to meet the requirement to wear masks except when they are "actively" eating or drinking. Some did not cover their nose or mouth.
"We were wondering what the mix of fans would be like," said McIlroy. "In this new age we're in right now, we were just curious. When we got in, we saw a lot of Dodger blue out there."
There were plenty of Braves logos too, and the tomahawk chop singing was audible as Ronald Acuña Jr. stepped in as the Atlanta leadoff hitter against Walker Buehler.
“They definitely brought it with you, and it definitely got the adrenaline pumping, especially late in the game. It was intense, ”Atlanta Riley said of the fans after his home run before the ninth run triggered a four-run rally and a 5-1 win.
It was the first MLB game of any kind with fans since March 12, when five Grapefruit League games were completed in Florida when the novel coronavirus caused the suspension of spring training there and in Arizona.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in June that professional and college stadiums should be 50% busy, and MLB decided to sell tickets from the NLCS after the regular season dropped from 68.5 million to 0. The NFL's Dallas Cowboys sold roughly 31% capacity at the nearby AT&T Stadium and pulled 25,147 for Sunday's win against the New York Giants.
Tickets will not be sold for the American League Championship Series between Houston and Tampa Bay at Petco Park in San Diego.
"It was really weird to finish on the field before the game and see people in general," said Los Angeles' Kiké Hernández, who returned home only 5-1 for the Dodgers. “It was shocking for everyone, at least for the first few minutes. It definitely added more to this game. I missed how the roar of the crowd sounded. "
The last time fans attended a Major League Baseball game that mattered was in Texas: Game 7 of the 2019 World Series in Houston, a 43,326 sell-off as the Washington Nationals defeated the Astros to win the title win.
This time, seats were sold in groups of four in the new retractable roof stadium with 40,518 seats, with the empty seats between the ticket sections secured with cable ties to prevent people from sitting inside.
"It was kind of a novel thing about the new field and there were never any fans in it," said Jeff Wood, a Braves fan who was about four hours from Little Rock, Arkansas. “And with this whole COVID thing, I kind of thought about it. I found it exciting. "
In March, Claudia Magallanes, her husband, and two sons drove nine hours from Carlsbad, New Mexico to the Arizona Spring Practice Games. You didn't see any because of the shutdown.
When they realized fans were going to be allowed into the NLCS, they remembered that a few years ago they had decided not to play the World Series games in Los Angeles. It was an easy phone call to see her first postseason game in LA despite Claudia Magallanes dropping out to the airport on an earlier scheduled Nevada pleasure trip Tuesday morning.
"Friday morning he gives me the news and I say," Yes, yes. "So we're all for it," said Claudia Magallanes, who said those four tickets were paid for in part by the money they got back for the canceled spring training games. "I tell him two years ago, I still regret that we didn't buy the tickets."
Justin Farris from the suburb of Plano in Dallas had his Texas Rangers hat on, and two sons wore Rangers jerseys. It was clear why they were on their way to the new ballpark fans who weren't to be seen during the scheduled opening season.
"Wanted to see it before someone did," said Farris, who said he'd put down roots for the Dodgers because of Dallas-born Clayton Kershaw. "And it's getting cleaner. It's the cleanest there will ever be."
Eli Dills has season tickets for the Braves and lives a few hours north of Atlanta. He says he hasn't missed any home games in the past two years so he had to persuade his boss to give him the day off.
Dills was on his way home - and to work - after Game 1, but the 21-year-old Walmart manager was already thinking of the World Series.
"I'll be down here without a doubt," said Dills. "I'm going to tell my boss," Hey man, you can come with me. "
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