A Certain Closeness

The seating in the Old Rockpile was much like all stadiums of its time. The chairs were made of wood and steel, and were planted on a very steep incline, which afforded a view that was always very good and close to the action.  That is of coarse if you were lucky enough not to have a seat behind one of the poles that held up the overhead awning. Because of this closeness, fans attending an event at the Rockpile embraced the players as one of their own. Players and fans were often face to face with each other and it was very easy for a fan to hear dialog between the players. This also meant it was very easy for the players to hear dialog between the fans, which meant it was extremely easy for the fans to have a dialog with, to the sometimes dismay of the players, each other. It was not uncommon for a fan, seated in the Rockpile, to verbally share his inner-most feelings about a player's performance of the day, with that very same player.

seats behind visitors dugout

Nowhere in the Rockpile was this "closeness" more in evidence than in the western section of the stadium. It was here, in the gradually-sloped, boxed-off, section, that a fan could really get, up-close and personal. This section was the closest section to the infamous, "Dodge Street Tunnel." It was here, at the tunnel, that players and fans were forced to intermingle with each other. Fans sitting in this section were able to use the tunnel for concesions and restrooms. The players had to use the tunnel to enter the playing field from their locker rooms. During a baseball game, the visiting players would be have to share restrooms with the fans. No effort was made by stadium security to keep fans out of the restrooms while a player was relieving himself. This was sometimes too close from a players standpoint. Also the fand would be at eye level to the players as they came out of the visiting dugout. This made heckling of the visiting team extremely easy. It also made it extremely dangerous for the fans sitting in these seats if a line drive was hit foul their way. Dodge St. Tunnel

It was at the Dodge Street Tunnel that beer cans were known to "rain down" on players after a Bills game, if their performances weren't up to snuff.

During the return of baseball to the stadium in the '80s, the Dodge Street Tunnel was also a gathering place for fans to meet and be seen. There were souvenir stands and specialty food stands located inside the tunnel. It was a great place to get a bite to eat or just have casual conversation. Many people, I imagine, might have met that certain "someone special" inside the tunnel.

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