Growing up in Bakersfield in the 1960s, I got to go to more than my fair share of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games.
My father, Curtis Darling, would take off from work a little early. We usually got to the game in the first inning. We never had to look for a parking place because he would leave his car at the Union 76 gas station at Chavez Ravine and have his oil changed.
Pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale were always exciting to watch. My Dad was old school and would buy a program and score all the outs. Great memories, good times.
So now it's 1988. I'm an adult, I have a job and I'm making my own way in the world. One day I got the opportunity to repay my dad by inviting him to the World Series. But I had a pretty big hill to climb to get there.
An amazing friend of mine worked for the National League and he had access to world series tickets. He said, "How would you like to go to the World Series"? Come on, what kind of question is that? Yes!
He said, "OK, go to the Registry Hotel in Universal City (which later became the Hilton) and ask for National League Vice President Katy Feeney. She will have your tickets".
I arrived at the hotel front desk, gave my name and asked to see Katy. The next thing I know I'm looking at a uncut sheets of World Series tickets and making small talk with the league vice president. I signed my name and left with six tickets to all World Series home games. I'm on cloud nine.
I called my friend and thanked him for the tickets. He replied, "You didn't think I was giving you those tickets, did you?" "What did you have in mind?" I asked cautiously.
After some discussion, I agreed to sell four tickets to each game for as much as I could get and I would receive the two tickets at no cost.
The face value on my World Series tickets was just $40.
There was no such thing as Stub Hub in 1988. I had to sell the tickets the old fashioned way— through friends, business associates and ever enterprising hotel bellman.
Now it's opening day of the World Series and I still have a bunch of tickets to get rid of. What's especially troubling is that my Dad is going with me to Game 2 and I'd rather not have to explain this messy ticket scalping business.
So here I am at the bottom of the stairs that lead to the lower reserved seats at Dodger Stadium. I have my Wayfarer sunglasses on and my Polo windbreaker and a huge fan of World Series tickets. Other scalpers around me are yelling and screaming but I let my tickets do all the talking
Now it's almost game time and I've got to take care of business. I have two tickets for Game Two to sell and I'm calling it a night. Two high school kids come up to me: "Any tickets for tomorrow?" they ask. I nod. One kid says, "Oh OK, but can we move away from here? The police are arresting the guy in front of you."
My jaw dropped, I closed my fan of tickets and disappeared into the crowd. I didn't know it was illegal to sell tickets on stadium property. These were plain clothed cops arresting scalpers and I was next!
The Dodgers didn't have a lot of offense in Game One. Oakland's Jose Conseco hit a grand slam off Dodger rookie Tim Belcher and that took the crowd out of the game. Eventually people started pouring out of Dodger Stadium. I'm staying put. Hey, it's the World Series.
Bottom of the ninth, Dodgers trail 4 to 3. Oakland's lights-out closer, Dennis Eckersley, is on the mound. Slugger Kirk Gipson, hobbled by injury, is asked to pinch hit with a man on base. With the Dodgers down to their last strike Gibson hits a rope over the right field fence and the fans go crazy, me included. It was a sustained roar so loud that is set off car alarms in the parking lot.
That night I watched an L.A. TV channel's 11 p.m. news. They featured the undercover sting operation at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers had a close call and so did I.
Jim Darling of Bakersfield runs a public relations firm.