Angels season-ticket holder Stephanie Stroup was celebrating her 33rd birthday at the final game of this season's first homestand in Anaheim when MLB.com's "Bucks on the Pond" crew spotted her and the other three fans in her group.
"I was like, 'What do you want me to buy?'" she said. "But I was very excited when I found out what it was."
It was Episode 2 in the second season of "Bucks" and the first visit to Angel Stadium for the hit game show. Instead of being asked to buy something, this is quite the opposite. You are asked whether you would like to win money.
The show is hosted by Jeremy Brisiel, and you might be a part of it this season when you least expect it. Fans at the ballpark interact with MLB.com's studio through the magic of technology in conjunction with game action. In creating a new experience for fans, MLB.com is giving people a chance to earn bucks while they spend bucks at the ballpark.
Contestants are asked a trivia question -- general knowledge and baseball -- on each pitch during a half-inning of baseball. Get the question correct and win money. Get the question wrong and it's a strike. Three strikes and you're out.
The questions' difficulty and value increase with the number of outs in the on-field action: $5 easy questions to start, $10 medium-difficulty questions after one out, $20 hard questions after two outs. If the contestant lasts longer than the team's at-bat, they win the bucks in their bank.
Fans are chosen randomly by the "Bucks" crew, and new episodes are being released every Tuesday and Thursday this season.
Stroup, a senior associate in the environmental practices group at the Fulbright & Jaworski law firm in Los Angeles, was there along with her husband Jimmy Stroup, a U.S. 20th-century historian. Also in their group was a pair of Angels fans who are tying the knot next month: journalist Matt Ballinger, a homepage producer for The Los Angeles Times' website, and his fiancee Kim Orr of Newport Beach.
"The stadium is really fan-friendly," Jimmy said of the Big A. "They've got a lot of good food, the seats are comfortable and the people are nice. The team should be terrific" -- prayer-like pause inserted here as he spoke -- "hopefully soon."
He added this piece of advice for any fans who might be asked to be on "Bucks":
"I think you should know a lot of things."
For this episode, it helps to know something about Bon Jovi and R.E.M., geography, Jered Weaver and Erick Aybar, cabbage and broccoli, and a famous video-game series.
After his group handles a question about U.S. presidential trivia, Jimmy Stroup says:
"Thank you for all this free money."
"It's not yours just yet," Brisiel replies from the MLB.com studio.
"Oh, can we lose it?"
Oh, you can definitely lose it. But you also can win it. And then you can go buy some more stuff around the ballpark, as you watch your favorite team. On this day, the foursome watched C.J. Wilson get his first win as the Angels beat the Astros.
"We're from Orange County, from Irvine originally, so growing up with the Angels after they came over here," Stephanie told the "Bucks" crew. "It's a nice stadium. There's lots of good food, it's fun, it's a nice atmosphere."
Last Thursday was the premiere episode of Season 2 for "Bucks on the Pond," featuring contestants at Oakland. Watch the show and be on the lookout, because the MLB.com/bucks crew will be coming to your ballpark at some point.