Saturday, March 19, 2011

Being a sports spectator in Atlantic City

As previously stated, I was never a big sports fan. Growing up, my trophy shelf had more esoteric awards. Instead of golden baseball players on pedestals I had fishing and pinewood derby trophies. One thing I did enjoy was going to sporting events and spectating. What kid could resist going to a baseball game with their dad? Here's the thing though. My family never went to the major league games. No, instead we contented ourselves with minor league baseball and hockey in Atlantic City.

2001 - 2005

Growing up, Atlantic City always seemed special to me. As a kid, I saw running errands with my dad in Atlantic City as a treat. Driving around it and hearing stories of my dad growing up in the Ducktown neighborhood added a mystique to the city that few got. Plus, we only lived ten minutes away so it was no large feat to stop by. Being the casino town it is however, there was never really anything for families or kids to do. Now, I don't want to get into the politics of AC or the casinos, I just want to talk about how much fun it was when the Surf came to Sandcastle Stadium in 1998.

1998 - 2008

I never went to Phillies game growing up. I didn't come from a Phillies family, so we had no real desire to drive all the way to Philadelphia to watch them lose. Having a minor league team in AC allowed me and my family to enjoy baseball, or at least the baseball atmosphere, without dealing with Philly fans. I myself blame a stroller-stealing incident at my local mall involving an over-enthusiastic Phillie Phanatic in the squelching of my fandom. I won't lie though, before the Surf I was jealous of Philly fans. I saw them as spoiled kids with red jerseys. Now I see them as annoying drunk girls who are more concerned with playing beer pong in the parking lot than cheering on the home team. Either way, I was content with watching the Surf play.

What are you?!

I enjoyed the breeze the bay gave off when you sat in the stands. I liked the allure of peanut shells crunching under your feet as you yelled at people to run faster or throw better. Between innings I would explore the stadium, which always ended with me going to the arcade. I admit, as a non-sports fan I spent a little too much time in the arcade with the other nerds. But it's hard to fight the allure of a pinball machine. Ever since I was a young boy, I played the silver ball and begged my parents for quarters. But, pinball distractions aside, I stayed in my seat and watched the game. Mostly, it was because of my grandfather and uncle. It was like watching the game with the two old Muppet men. Hearing them heckle the game was almost better than watching the game.

Pictured: My uncle and poppy.

The Bullies were even better. My brother always considered himself hockey's unsung hero, so when we first heard about them coming to Boardwalk Hall we were excited. I still have my ticket stub for the first Bullies game. We were there for the first game, for every home game during the second season playoffs (including their Kelly Cup win) and for the last game. Every part of going to the hockey game was part of a tradition. Even being jerks on the elevator was part of the fun that going to a Bullies game encompassed. Atlantic City couldn't keep them though, and both sports eventually left the casino town.

I mention all of this because I just got back from an ECAC Hockey game at Boardwalk Hall. Watching hockey again brought back memories. While buying my first beer at a sporting event was a surreal event, I now know why people sneak them in their jackets. The overpriced food and conversations found in the bathroom about refs haven't changed though. I still miss the mascot Bully though. That and the Bullies booster club calling themselves the Dog Pound. I miss you Bully, where ever you are.

He roams the land like a lost mascot samurai.

Boardwalk Hall having hockey back is only a fluke though. And until recently, Sandcastle Stadium has been in disrepair. Left to the whim on nature and homeless people, the city didn't take any steps to make it nice until Dave Matthews decided to hold a concert there. It shouldn't take a concert to make the stadium relevant again, AC should of had plans for the area before that. Instead they just let it be a memorial to a baseball franchise that the city gave up on long before they stopped playing. Besides, Dave Matthews Band sucks anyway.

That's right I said it. I hate you Dave Matthews Band.


  1. Not liking DMB doesn't equal them sucking.

  2. it does on the internet where all opinion is absolute. who is the dude with the blog here?

  3. Uh, the Boardwalk Bullies mascot was named Wooly, NOT "Bully!" I miss him too, along with the team as well. Shame they had such a small fanbase, even if the few fans they had were among some of the most passionate you'd ever see for minor league hockey.