It was the sixth or seventh inning, as I recall. My friends and I perched in our usual seats high atop the cavernous Astrodome. We lived near the dome and collected coke bottles for money—attending virtually every game.
There was no need to sit up high, there was usually 40,000 empty seats, but not the ones we wanted or could afford by the dugout. We had a reputation around the park, and knew most of the workers, so there was no chance of sneaking down.
Doug Rader stepped to the plate, bases loaded, and a buzz echoed through the park—not because we had a chance for a big inning, but because the orange light was glowing by the stadium clock with our power hitter was at the plate.
In an effort to attract fans, the Astros created Foamer Night, and if an Astro hit a home run with the orange light on, it was free beer for the rest of the night. As I recall, the light came on every odd minute when the Astros were batting, which was a safe bet in those days.
We cheered with everyone else, but we wanted runs. Suddenly, the Red Rooster hit a line drive that barely cleared the left field wall. I'll never forget the ensuing chaos.
It was as if someone yelled fire in a movie theater. Within seconds, the aisles were full, people were pushing and shoving and climbing over seats. Long before Rader circled the bases, the entire field level seats were clear.
It occurred to us that the old timers keeping us from entering the lower level had to be managing this mess, so we made our run for it. Within seconds, we're sitting 10 feet from the on-deck circle, within reaching distance of our hero, Cesar Cedeno.
Those days will never return, for obvious reasons, and we ultimately were kicked out of the field level, but it was wonderful while it lasted. Our walk home was especially interesting, dodging cars in the parking lot.
We made several more Foamer Nights, and never saw it happen again. But when we were batting, and the light came on, we were once again cheering loud, but not for runs.
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