|It was a dark and stormy Friday night.
The good citizens of Seattle are used to such things, of course, so more than a thousand of them spent the night hours camping on the sidewalk just north of Safeco Field. And by six in the morning, the crowd had swelled to 2,237 (give or take a few hundred), many of them sheltered from the cold rain by tents or tarps.
A few minutes before six, a semi-tractor trailer arrived at Safeco Field.
At precisely 6:40, the truck's driver, a burly red-headed fellow wearing a shirt that read "Bobble Bobble," backed his big rig into a loading bay. And inside the trailer? Approximately 925 cardboard boxes labeled:
|Hannah Kirihara, 6, of Seattle, keeps an eye on her Ichiro Bobblehead as her mother tries to get it autographed.|
SEATTLE MARINERS - ICHIRO DOLLS
And within each of those boxes, a tiny ceramic version of Ichiro Suzuki.
That's why all those people were standing outside on a chilly July morning in Seattle. You combine Ichiro Mania with Bobblehead Fever, and you'll see some awfully strange things.
ALEXANDER GLOBAL PROMOTIONS
24 PCS PER CARTON
But, of course, insanity is in the eye of the beholder. And should Bobblehead Fever come to your town -- by our count, nine more are scheduled for various ballparks this season, including the oh-so-exciting Brady Anderson Bobblehead Night this Tuesday -- here are some do's and don't's to make the Fever a bit less debilitating than it might otherwise be.
Do check the newspapers or radio for advice on acquiring your bobblehead. Seattle's media outlets let people know that only two gates -- home plate and right field -- would open early. And once the huge bobblehead line reached the ballpark, it was divided between the two gates.
Anyone at another entrance, or even anyone at the right entrance but in the wrong line, didn't get a bobblehead, and this caused a fair amount of heartache. Regrettably, the Mariners forgot to post informational notices around Safeco's exterior ... and that's why it paid to read the newspaper.
Don't catch Bobblehead Fever if you're a baseball writer. There are many weird and wonderful perks that come with the job, but few of them are apparent come Bobblehead Day.
Baseball writers generally enjoy a leisurely schedule: to the ballpark an hour or so before the game, cozy at home a couple of hours after the game, no particular reason to get up in the morning. But if you're covering Bobblehead Day, you're up before dawn, the better to monitor nondescript trucks and stationary lines of people who would stretch, if lined end to end, three-fifths of the way to Pluto.
Baseball writers generally get great freebies, from food and drink to instantly eBay-able press pins. But Bobblehead Day brought nary a bobblehead to us scribes; in lieu of dolls, we received SoDo Mojo t-shirts. Sure, they're 100 percent pre-shrunk cotton ... but sometimes it's just better to be a fan.
Do make friends with, or repair your relationship with, anyone you might know who isn't ambulatory. On Bobblehead Day at Safeco, anyone in a wheelchair -- along with as many as four friends/family -- went straight to the head of the line. And of course, if you don't know anyone who's handicapped and you're desperate, you can always rent one (a wheelchair, not a disabled person).
Don't spend the night at the ballpark, not unless you really, really don't have anything better to do. I cannot stress this strongly enough. Some pre-Bobblehead Day reports suggested that only by camping out at Safeco would fans be guaranteed a ceramic Ichiro.
One grizzled writer -- something of a bobblehead expert -- told me that if I wanted one, I should arrive no later than six hours before the gates opened; in this case, that would have meant arriving at four in the morning.
Don't believe a word of it. The gates actually opened at 9:50, and the tiny Ichiros lasted until 11:30 on the dot. Within that hour and 40 minutes, everyone who was in line at 9:50 received a bobblehead. And from what I could tell, nearly everyone who arrived by 11 also got one.
And finally, do bring your own food. Nobody should eat ballpark pizza for breakfast.
ESPN.com Senior Writer Rob Neyer is saving up to buy an Ichiro bobblehead on eBay.
You don't need to be crazy enough to camp out overnight on Seattle's cold, drizzly streets to experience the Ichiro bobblehead craze. You just need to click here to experience ESPN.com's Dan Cawdrey's photo gallery of the event.