I remember as a kid being so excited to go watch the Angels and Dodgers square off in the Freeway Series. Back in those days, that was the only time they played each other and even though the games didn’t count, it was exciting to see favorite players from both sides square off against each other. There was something cool about the fact that they would never play each other in a real game unless they met in the World Series. Below is a shot I took as a kid in the 1970’s when Steve Garvey and the Dodgers visited Anaheim.
Things changed twenty years ago when Interleague Play began in 1997. Starting that year, the teams would square off during the regular season in games that counted in the standings. The Dodgers had pretty strong teams coming into that 1997 season. They had made the playoffs the two previous seasons and had superstars like Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, and Hideo Nomo on their team. The Angels had not been to the playoffs since their unfortunate collapse in the 1986 ALCS versus the Boston Red Sox. In 1995, the Angels had a massive division lead late in the season but the team collapsed down the stretch. They recovered enough to force a one game playoff but lost to Seattle’s dominating Randy Johnson. The Angels did have a core of young talent though and several of these home grown talents would eventually become 2002 World Series Champions.
MLB was looking to build natural rivalries based on geographic proximity. The Angels-Dodgers rivalry started with Dodgers fans always touting their team’s postseason successes and major stars. As the years went by, the Angels had a lot of success against the Dodgers. The Angels also became quite successful in the postseason starting with their first World Series title in 2002. True Dodgers fans were left with a bit of a dilemma but most had to root for the Angels to defeat their hated rival San Francisco Giants in the 2002 World Series. Both teams were managed by former Dodger players, Dusty Baker and Mike Scioscia. In 2004, both teams made the playoffs in the same year for the first time. They’ve done so three more times since then in 2008, 2009, and 2014. 2009 was the closest that the teams had come to a Freeway World Series with both teams advancing to the League Championship Series.
Tonight the Angels played the Dodgers in the first game of the Freeway Series in Anaheim. The Angels won 3-2 after being held hitless for the first six innings of the game. I’ll be at the Big A on Friday night to watch the second game of the Freeway Series. Even though these games don’t count, I’m still excited to get out the stadium and see the team and it does bring back memories of those days when it was quite rare to see them play each other. Let’s go Angels!
The Anaheim Ducks started a cross promotion a year ago on February 5, 2016 with an Angels night at Honda Center. Current and former Angels attended the game and participated in the ceremonial puck drop, the Ducks wore Angels jerseys for the pre-game skate, and the evening was Angels themed. They had merchandise available in the team store with a combination Angels-Ducks logo and they sold autographed mystery pucks with an Angels-Ducks logo. I was lucky enough to get Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg.
The Angels then hosted Ducks Night at Angel Stadium on August 16, 2016. The team wore special co-branded jerseys and caps during batting practice. I was fortunate enough to attend batting practice on the field that day. I had won a meet and greet with Jered Weaver because I found a gold ball in the Angels Mystery bag fundraiser.
My son, wife, Mom, and I on the field for BP at Ducks Night at Angel Stadium.
Anaheim Ducks Captain Ryan Getzlaf takes in batting practice with his kids.
The Ducks night promotion at Angel Stadium was really popular. The BP jerseys were turned out really well. There were 2 different hats available. Fitted hats as they wore in BP were available in the team store and adjustable caps were available if you had purchased a ticket using the code Ducks. When the Angels hit a home run, they played Bro Hymn by Pennywise, the song that is played when the Ducks score a goal. The Angels won the game and it was a great night all around.
The Ducks again hosted an Angels night on January 25th, 2017. Again they offered mystery signed pucks for charity and the team store had an even larger amount of merchandise available. I was lucky enough to attend a meet and greet that night with Angels pitcher Garrett Richards. I also ran into newly acquired Angel, Danny Espinosa. The Angels posted a picture of Danny and I on their blog as well as the below picture of the meet and greet with Garrett (I’m pictured on the right side of the conference table, 3rd person back).
I asked Garrett if his procedure had been successful previously or if it was groundbreaking and he explained it in detail. So from the sounds of it, as I mentioned in the meet and greet, if everything works out well then this may be referred to as the “Garrett Richards Procedure” in the future, just as they do the “Tommy John Surgery”.
I was lucky enough to get Ryan Kesler as the mystery autograph. It’s picture below with the merchandise I picked up that night and the program they were giving out. I had my program signed by Danny Espinosa (as pictured above).
I ran into former Duck Teemu Selanne. Funny enough I happened to see him 3 times in a week time period (also at Watch Party and NHL All-Star Party).
The Angels will be hosting Ducks Night again this season on Tuesday September 19, 2017. This time it appears they’re giving out a beanie to everyone in attendance.