Friday night I went to another baseball game at UF. This year the Athletic Association has made an effort to increase student involvement and attendence at baseball games with assorted “Bleacher Creatures” promotions. These are fun giveaways that make the students feel a little more important. This stands in stark contrast to the football games, where it is abundantly clear that the alumni matter far more than the students. The alumni sit in the shade while the students sit in the blazing sun; the marching band faces the alumni at halftime, and so do the referrees during the game. While there is a healthy contingent of UF alumni at the baseball games, and a good mix of townies, as well, the students don’t get short shrift. There is no designated “student section”. Indeed, while students get free general admission tickets, those seats can be found all around the ballpark: above first base, along the entire third base line, and everywhere above Dizney Plaza and the outfield. Meanwhile, students who sign up online to be part of the “Bleacher Creatures” get free t-shirts, and students (and it can only be students) who get chosen to be “Captain K” also get a free t-shirt for their efforts.
This season, the University has posted about baseball promotions on Facebook. Last night I finally won one of these promotions. Late in the game the public address announcer called my name, and I made my way up to the press box to claim my prize, an enormous “Bleacher Creatures” banner. Although I was glad to win the prize, I was even more excited by the press box itself. First, it has the most amazing view. The entire field is visible, and beyond it, the tall pine trees and dormitories. All around the room are men with laptop computers, either typing newspaper columns or looking up stats. The PA announcer has a desk, and the radio folks have their own booth. Meanwhile, many other guys stand around the back, enjoying a variety of refreshments. The Dazzlers were hanging out up there, too. Everyone was nice to me, and several people introduced themselves to me. I had a couple minutes to hang out while a fellow went and retrieved my prize, and I spoke to a guy who admitted that he had a pretty sweet job. The only bad part, he admitted, is that they cannot cheer while they are up there.
People sitting near me asked about my prize, and even random students who saw me after the game asked what I won. Anthony snapped a photo of me with the big “Bleacher Creatures” banner in left field.