It really was wonderful in Sacramento last night…..Actually I got there early and sat in front of the auditorium, a building that was built in 1926 and is just perfect for the game.
Although I had been in town for the western regionals in 2010, last night took me back to the 60’s and 70’s when we used to play there twice a month; one of our first “road trips” that eventually extended all of the US, Canada, and Mexico. I spoke to one of the ushers who was working there for the first time when there was modern Derby. It turned out that he had been on staff sometime in the 60’s and “I was surprised to see they are skating on a flat track tonight; I just thought it would be banked track.”
There were a group of fans sitting in front of the building, enjoying the fall warmth of a Sacramento evening. I took a short walk around the downtown area which has developed into a nice cluster of restaurants and cafes, and I saw so many young people and wondered if they would come to the games. And in one of those surreal moments, around the people walking and on bikes, there was some kind of personal appearance going on with some of the Sacramento Kings out on the sidewalk, standing at least a foot and a half taller than those around them. I would love to see them skate.
And that of course took me back to the time before the AFL and NFL merged, and we had games scheduled with the 49ers and Raiders. At that time they did what they wanted between seasons and both had already formed basketball teams. They weren’t paid much and looked for extra income. The game (12 minutes at halftime of the scheduled Bomber game at the Cow Palace) was a riot…in their football uniforms and on skates. I can’t remember who won, but Joe Perry was great, and Frank Morze, a 300-pound lineman) got blocked into the rail and just took it out. After repairs, the “game” finished. I went to the locker room and paid them ($50 each), and saw Hugh Mcelhenny, one of the greatest running backs ever, with his jersey off. One of his teammates asked him why all the scratches on his back: “I was out with Calvello last night”. I think he was kidding.
Meanwhile, back at the auditorium, members of Sacred City were doing warm ups outside; I thought they were working so hard at it and hoped they had energy left for their game.
The doors opened and we went inside. As I said before, it is a perfect building for Derby, and is the new “home court” for Sacred City. It is horseshoe-shaped, with a stage at the open end, a mult-purpose building; two balconies accounting for about 2000 of the 3200 seats. And just as I remembered, it was a noise factory.
The fans mingled with the players, and there was such enthusiasm and good feelings. It actually reminded me more of a sports event at a high school where people are so open to what is happening.
I sat in back at the peak of the horseshoe in the Resurrection area…..Quite a number of fans had journeyed the two-hour trip from Sonoma County.
I heard one of the best a capella versions of the Star Spangled banner ever; and I neglected to find out who the singer was…..like so many involved with this all-volunteer game, talent abounds in those who devote the time and effort required to skate, ref, announce, etc, that so few understand. The fans had paid their $20 and just wanted to be entertained.
And that they were, although both games were one-sided. Resurrection was too much for the B squad from Sacramento, although the effort, speed and blocking were there for both teams from start to finish. And the fans screamed. One jammer from Sacred who was tiny, seemed to be knocked down on every play by the bigger blockers from Sonoma, but she never stopped, and her efforts were appreciated by the roars of approval. Actually, she was one helluva skater and got her share of points.
The BAD girls, as expected, dominated Sacred City. After all, they have qualified for the Championships and are my secret favorite to finish high up.
All three leagues have earned honors in the past few weeks: BAD going to Atlanta, Resurrection to the USARS tourney in Fresno, and Sacred City being selected as Sacramento’s favorite sports team!
I always remember Sacramento as being a great town for sports, and I saw it last night: a perfect mesh of fans and Roller Derby.
I don’t think their next home game is until March…..if you are near our state capital then, drop by and let the cheers overwhelm you.