Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cast And Crew: Coliseum Security Guards

A very important group of people in the history of the A's bleachers were the security guards. They were there every game, year in and year out. We all got to know them and they always talked to us. They were a special part of the bleachers because of the kind of people they were. Community as a part of life was as important to them as their jobs were. This simply made their jobs much better.

Most of the security guards were blue collar black guys from urban Oakland. They were all extremely mean looking, large guys that pumped iron. Biceps bulged in their shirt sleeves. You didn't want to mess with any of them. Their uniforms weren't your typical rent-a-cop looking security guard type of uniforms that you see at Disneyland or a corporate business park. They were olive drab in color, which made them all the more mean looking. But most of these guys were pussycats in many ways. They listened to soul, R&B, Barry White and old Motown and loved their wives. One of the bleacher guards was white, and he was stationed in right field. He didn't seem to be one of the cool ones, and had kind of the same image as the white cop on the TV show Sanford and Son.

They weren't busybodies, so standing around doing nothing while nothing wrong was happening was perfectly fine with them, and us. They talked baseball, cars and many other things. When fights broke out, we certainly saw them body slam their fair share of rowdies. They were fairly lenient with pot smokers, but occasionally ran some of them in to the security rooms somewhere within the concrete superstructure known as the Coliseum. But it was almost like the more pot somebody had, the less trouble they got into, because some of the guards simply took the evidence home for themselves. A couple of them were themselves often stoned on the job, and a couple of bleacher bums smoked dope with them on a regular basis.

The main guards as we knew them were: Sarge, whose real name was Bob; we just called him Sarge because he was the sergeant of all the guards. Champ, a shortening of his last name. Larry, and Gipson. One year I had all of them autograph a baseball for me. They were shocked at the proposition, but loved signing anyway. They were employed not by the A's, but by the Coliseum, so they did football, basketball, concerts and wrestling too. Wrestling events were the worst for them because of all the food and other things thrown. We loved the guards and talking with them, and made for a much more pleasant experience.

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