Amid the sounds of tailgating and kids playing catch at the Angels Stadium parking lot this past Memorial Day homestand rang a distinctly non-baseball voice.
"Clean up! The judge is coming tomorrow to inspect the trail!" yells Spice, a homeless woman who lives on the other side of the fence separating Angels Stadium from the Santa Ana River homeless encampment. "Y'all better start using those trash bags I brought you!"
She rides north the trail in her red beach cruiser, inspecting camp sights to make sure trash is cleared and needles are disposed of properly. A pregnant women comes out of her tent with bags and begins to clean up around her site. Smells of burgers and hot dogs masked the odor of the encampment, for just a second.
"I was once out here collecting trash bags to take to a dumpster when one of the Angel fans comes up to the fence and offers me some food and a beer," Spice says laughingly "I said, 'Sure, why not?' I'd been out cleaning all day, might as well."
The homeless community next to Angels Stadium has been a sore spot for the team, especially after a March incident where someone took a bulldozer for a 40-minute joyride around the parking lot and someone else nearly electrocuted themselves trying to jury-rig the Big A's electrical system to charge a cell phone. Angels officials have asked Anaheim for beefed-up police patrols around the stadium.
But the Halos who deal with the homeless the most are team fans, especially those who enter the stadium via Gate 5, the side of the stadium nearest the Santa Ana river. Interviews with the homeless and fans find each of them acting mostly civil, if not downright nice.
"The tailgaters are usually pretty nice," says Angel, who also goes by Batman. He has lived across the Big A for for three months. "Sure, there's always a bad apple in every bunch just like us [homeless], but for the most part they drink and party and stare at us." Good fans have shared leftovers; drunk fans yell out insults.
"You'd be surprised, but the people around here doing the most yelling at us is those folks over there," Angel continues, pointing to commuters on the 57 freeway. "They yell out slurs like 'dirty squat' [slang for someone who settles in an unoccupied place without legal claim], they'll even throw trash out there windows."
A group of young fans then come up to the fence with bags and cups. Angel runs over to accept the food and thanks them.
"They're people and we are people, we have plenty of food to share" said Joe as he stood on the opposite of the fence with his five friends. It's the group's first time at Angel stadium; they all came with their local Church of Christ congregation. They go back to their setup on the parking lot and fill up plastic containers with food to give to Angel.
Two police cars and four standing security guards warily watch the exchange, while a couple of securities on bikes frequently pass by. "They [the Angels Of Anaheim organization] doesn't give us a policy about not allowing tailgaters to feed the homeless, but they do suggest we avoid interaction with them [homeless]" says one of the security men.
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Angel runs back to his encampment to put some of the food into his tent. "Who wants coffee and food!" he yells, explaining that he usually gives out food to the people he knows won't come up to him and also puts some aside for people's dogs.
"One time some fan came up to me and asked if I wanted some food," said Chad as he walked by Angel's encampment to ask for a bike part. "Of course I say yes, and he comes back with a box. I kid you not, it had about six pounds of meat and chicken!"
"Overall, I personally think it's nice living by the stadium," Angel says. "We are a community here, we have rules. And also, I'm an Angel fan."
He turns around to lift up his hoodie and expose a patch sewed onto his jacket. It's the Big A.