We had traveled 4000 miles in four weeks on the Greyhound and viewed the overnight ride from Portland to San Francisco as another routine passage.
The bus was full. Just behind us a loudmouthed Scandinavian with Cuban sympathies alternately cursed Greyhound, the United States and the youth of America. The youth of America was across from him, represented by Stephen, a harmonica-playing punk, making advances on his seat companion, a blousy young woman with a baby.
An impartial eye would have held us pale, underweight and understrength. A partial eye would have been appalled.
But under the overhead reading lights we looked hearty. We carried our suitcases from station locker to bus with a semblance of ease. No longer did the seats bruise our kneecaps or cramp our muscles, and at times we slept.
And so we went gently into the night, despite the steamy atmosphere of 43 bodies, despite the Scandinavian's slurs on the American way of life and despite the moaning chords of Stephen's harmonica.
By Eugene, Stephen had turned from music to monologue to win the favors of the young woman next to him. Holding her baby on his lap, he went through his repetoire of junior high ribaldry and his favorite movies, of which Behind the Door was number 1 through 8. By Rosemont, Stephen and his dream date were holding hands.
The romance was cut short, however, at 1 a.m. when Stephen was thrown off the bus for not having a ticket. Apparently, he and the Scandanavian had boarded on the same Ameripass, a month-long bus ticket. His erstwhile friend had deserted him two hours earlier, annoyed at Stephen's lack of attention and eager to find better companionship aboard a following bus.
Stephen's departure signaled sleep time for our section of the bus, and most dozed until daylight. Oakland observed the Sabbath as we passed through, and San Francisco was hardly more awake at 8:30 on a Sunday morning.
One hour, two trolleys and a bus later we arrived at the apartment of relatives. They had beds and showers and an empty refrigerator. But food was not our primary consideration, for we had come to San Francisco to see baseball.
Another two buses took us to the Oakland-Alameda Country Coliseum, where the Oakland A's, formerly the Kansas City A's, formerly the Philadelphia A's, play. BART, the nation's newest rapid transit system, also goes to the Coliseum. But not on weekends, and not on weekdays after 8 p.m. We had to wait until Monday to see if the future worked.
The Coliseum was an unspectacular, partially sunken concrete pile. Our $3 tickets put us in the sparsely populated third deck, high above the action. At those prices few kangaroos go to A's games. Nor do many Bay Area residents either, since the three-time defending World Champion A's annually struggle to gain one million fans.
Also expensive were the game scorecards, for only in Oakland must one buy the team yearbook, filled with pictures of the A's mustaches, to get the scorecard.
The A's performance was boring but efficient, as befits the three-time champions. Getting only three hits, they defeated the lowly Milwaukee Brewers, 3-1.
And they came from behind, exploding for three runs in the second inning on two walks, two hit batters, a double play grounder and an error by Robin Yount, the Brewers' shortstop.
Twenty years old, Yount has already completed two big league seasons as a starter. The Boy, as we affectionately titled him after seeing four Brewer games, needed a vacation by late August. We were to see him make another error on a routine play two days later in Anaheim.