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Angels fans flock to the Pond
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World  Series
10/23/2002 01:51 am ET 
Angels fans flock to the Pond
By Sandy Burgin / MLB.com

The Arrowhead Pond will be open at 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday nights. (J.D. Cuban/AP)
ANAHEIM -- "It was almost like being at the game, if you couldn't get there, this was the next best thing."

Herb Nelson of Anaheim could have been speaking for the 1,200 Angels fans who paid $5 to watch Game 3 of the World Series on Jumbotron at the Arrowhead Pond on Tuesday night.

The atmosphere was pretty much the same as at The Ed -- minus 44,000 fans.

There was a sea of red, albeit in just four sections of the arena. Rally Monkeys adorned youngsters and oldsters alike on their arms, heads, around their necks, on their shoulders and yes, even hanging from their ThunderStix.

Ahh, the ThunderStix. Noise is noise, but there is something to be said for the sonic power of the ThunderStix, which dominated the scene on Tuesday in what Angel fans hope will be the first of three straight nights of celebrations and a perhaps a little group therapy at the Pond.

The clattering concerto of the ThunderStix emanated an hour before the first pitch, during photo ops for the local Fox TV channels. The ThunderStix serenade accompanied TV commercials on the big screen. And when Scott Schoenweis struck out Rich Aurilia to end the ballgame, securing Anaheim's 10-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants, you couldn't tell the difference between the deafening sound of the 1,200 fans with their ThunderSticks indoors and the 45,000 fans thundersticking away, outdoors at Edison Field.

You could not contain or control the ThunderStix at the Pond on Tuesday night. The only time the thunder stopped was when people got to their cars and began honking their horns.

It was that kind of loud and raucous night, hundreds of miles away from Pac Bell Park as the Angels took a 2-1 lead in the World Series.

Steve and Michael Fleming may be twins, but they don't agree on everything, least of all the ThunderStix.

"When your team can't hear the ThunderStix, what's the point," said Steve, who lives in Chino Hills. "To me it's fruitless, the Angels can't hear the noise. I can't figure it out."

By the time the ninth inning came along and the Angels were cruising along at 10-4, Steve was singing a little different tune, but his "song" couldn't be heard over brother Mike's true belief in the ThunderStix.

"The noise makes things better," said Michael, from Fountain Valley. "It pushed the Angels to victory, that's why we're doing it.

"My brother is under the impression that the Angels can hear us," said Steve.

"Of course they can," said Mike ."CAN YOU HEAR US?," he yelled out loud at the top of his lungs.

"My brother fell on his head when he was very young," said Steve, who turned 50 in August. "But obviously there is some power to it. One could draw a line from the fact that we're cheering them and they're winning. However, there is no empirical to that."

Don't try to tell that to Mike or the other 1,199 fans at the Pond, who did their best to break the sound barrier and were enjoying "the next best thing to being there."

"It's a lot more fun watching the game with a large group," said Elton Rodriguez, who wore a Scott Spiezio shirt and led the cheers, "Let's Go Angels" with his ThunderStix when Spiezio hit his triple in the third inning.

Rodriguez works at Edison Field at the concessions stands, and while he didn't get to see much live action in Game 1 or Game 2, he said Tuesday night, "was just like being there."

"I wish they would all leave them (ThunderStix) in their cars," said Orlo Fast before the game.

However, by games' end, he was singing their praises. "Maybe there is as much power with the ThunderStix as there is with the Rally Monkey. I survived tonight and I'll be back tomorrow."

Fast was on hand with his wife Bev, who had some interesting baseball ties. Her father was in the Navy with former Angels manager Bill Rigney and she used to drive Tim Flannery's sister home from school. She grew up a Yankee fan but she's a red-blooded Anaheim fan now and had the Angels jacket to prove it."

"I love being here with so many people so I can act like a fool,' said Carol Nelson, who kept up a steady rhythmic pace with the ThunderStix, along with her husband Herb.

Many of the Angels fans here said that they would indeed be back at the Pond on Wednesday and Thursday nights with their ThunderStix.

The Pond, in partnership with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and the City of Anaheim opened up for the three Angels games in San Francisco. The admission charge of $5 is going to charity.

"We had 20,000 people standing in line for World Series Tickets," said John Nicoletti, the Public Information Manager for the city of Anaheim. "We saw that these people were so excited about this Angels franchise. We really felt that it was our responsibility as a city to give people a place to congregate to be with other Angels fans even though the game was hundreds of miles away. We thought it was real important that we brought people together to cheer, and make friend and have a good time."

The Pond will be open at 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday nights and you can bet the crowds will be bigger -- and even noisier. Power to the ThunderStix!

Sandy Burgin covers the Padres for MLB.com and can be reached at Sandyburgin@hotmail.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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