ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD: Angels fans have been coming to Angel Stadium of Anaheim for nearly 50 years.
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Angel Stadium of Anaheim



Although extensive and costly renovations in the late 1990s provided striking features and amenities enjoyed by many new baseball ballparks, Angel Stadium of Anaheim is actually the fourth-oldest active major league stadium in America — and many don’t realize it. Originally known as Anaheim Stadium when it opened in 1966, the “Big A” (as many locals still call it) is owned by the City of Anaheim and has been home to the American League’s Angels for nearly half a century.

Until 2002, when the franchise won its first playoff series in history en route to winning its only World Series, many fans thought the stadium was cursed or the franchise was jinxed because of tragic accidents and shooting deaths, freakish injuries to players (including a team-bus accident) and heartbreaking losses when the team would near a championship. (The Angels came up one game short of the 1982 World Series, one strike short of the 1986 World Series and missed the playoffs in 1995 after blowing an 11-game division lead in August.)

A sliced-brisket sandwich at Bacardi at the Park in Chicago.
Neil Burger
Unsubstantiated rumors persist that Angel Stadium sits on the site of an ancient Native ­American burial ground, which probably explains why onetime Angels general manager Buzzie Bavasi once had a Catholic priest sprinkle holy water on home plate. In recent years, the Angels won five division titles in a six-year span but didn’t make it back to the World Series. In addition, pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed in a 2009 auto accident involving a drunken driver on the same night he pitched. Since-traded slugger Kendrys Morales missed almost two seasons after being hurt in a home-plate celebration after hitting a game-winning homer in 2010. Cursed? You decide.

The ballpark food is diverse and tasty, but there also are quality restaurants and bars in the area for Angels fans — and the many out-of-towners­ visiting nearby Disneyland and California Adventure — to patronize. At The Catch, the game-day menu highlights include the famous OMG burger (a 5-pound patty of ground chuck, topped with 10 slices of cheddar cheese and served with 2 pounds of seasoned fries). Cost: $60. The OC Sports Grill features The “Machine” Burger, a specialty sandwich in Albert Pujols’ honor­ — a half-pounder seasoned with chimichurri, queso frito, pulled pork and cabbage sautéed in Dominican “savon sauce” and topped with onion straws. There are also Angels-themed cocktails such as the Gorgeous Bourjos, Trumbo Punch and Rally Monkey Margarita. At J.T. Schmid’s, there is a plethora of handcrafted beers on tap and a huge menu with exotic food items, such as The Twenty Dollar Burger (topped with 8 ounces of prime rib) and jambalaya. Anaheim’s ESPN Zone has several viewing and dining areas, including a Screening Room that looks like a casino sports book, with leather recliners and a gargantuan 16-foot HD monitor surrounded by a dozen 36-inch TVs. There’s also the second-floor Sports Arena with 10,000 square feet of interactive games. Sometimes, it’s difficult to leave even when you have game tickets.