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August 6th, 2003 Kim Colton | Night Avenger
 

Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Thirsty Thursday

     
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A bare-chested, overweight man sprints across the baseball field between innings, waving his arms like a maniac. He's got something written across his chest, but it's illegible, not big enough to distinguish. A crowd some 12,000 strong goes wild, cheering him on until his eventual takedown by PGE Park security forces.

I miss the whole thing. Why? I'm too busy searching for $2 Bud Lights; it's a mission that, on this night, doesn't take long, but the cruise to get there is half the fun. It's Thirsty Thursday at the ballpark, and the Portland Beavers are hard at work trying to battle Sacramento's Rivercats. The beer vendors are busier, though, and swiftly move patrons through the motions to get their discounted drinks: Present proper identification, order Thursday's special cheap beer, make purchase. Repeat.

Going to the ballpark's always been a pedestrian experience, and there's always been a need to visit the snack bar every two or three innings (hot dogs to scarf! peanuts to crack! ice cream to slurp!). But never has walking those cement hallways been so much fun.

The men at these games are fresh-faced and well-formed. Baseball is already so steeped in tobacco-chewing, ball-scratching manhood--add to that these good-looking gents and the whole thing becomes a gay man's wet dream, with enough gym rats around for an Abercrombie-commercial casting call. Who knew?

With all the scenery, there's hardly any time to watch the game. Most of the time, the stadium looks empty, but the outdoor smoking corral (located just outside the park's gates) is packed. By the eighth inning, beer service is over, the game turns interesting and the crowd returns. The Beavers tie the game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth. At this point, audience heckling reaches extreme levels of enthusiasm. The home team looks like it might just win the game, but it blows its chances by giving up two runs in the ninth. So the Beavers lost, who cares?

Equal parts fashion show and frat party, Thirsty Thursday turns PGE Park into this city's largest outdoor bar and probably the best party of the summer--all thanks to $2 beers. The good news is, there's still time to catch three more Thirsty Thursdays (though the eager will have to wait: The next game isn't until Thursday, Aug. 14).

PGE Park, 1844 SW Morrison St., 224-4400 (Ticketmaster). First pitch 7:05 pm. $8. All ages.

 
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