April 2008

Meet your match

On Tuesday, the Giants will host the first of three Singles Nights at AT&T Park. Folks, these things work — the number of couples to result from previous Singles Nights is impressive, including several marriages. What could be better than finding a fellow Giants fan as the love of your life?

Purchase of a special ticket gets you admission to the pregame party in the plaza behind the scoreboard, a seat in the Singles Night section and one complimentary alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. Tickets are sold in equal numbers for men and women, so it’ll be a diverse group.

Girls rule

chastain.jpgOn Saturday, the Giants will host BAWSI Night, honoring Bay Area women athletes and encouraging girls and women to pursue their goals. With the purchase of a special ticket for the Reds-Giants game, fans can attend a pregame Q&A session led by soccer star Brandi Chastain, one of the co-founders of the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative.

The panel participants will be honored in a pregame ceremony at 5:30 and then will greet fans and sign autographs at the Community Clubhouse during the first two innings of the game.

Here’s who’s scheduled to be there:

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Orange is in

retrocapjpg.jpgThe Giants return home Friday for a six-game homestand against the Reds and Rockies at AT&T Park. Friday’s opener features not only the return of Dusty Baker but it’s also Orange Friday and Retro Cap Night, with the first 20,000 fans getting a replica of the famous orange-billed cap worn by the Giants in the ’80s.

It’s also the second Forever Giants Friday, with a special Giants alumni guest slated to visit the ballpark. Whoever it is will be signing autographs near the left-field bullpen mound from 5:45-6:15 p.m. for the first 100 fans. To find out who it is, listen to Murph and Mac on KNBR 680 at 8 a.m. Friday.

The first Forever Giants Friday featured Darrell Evans, the slugging infielder who played for the Giants from 1976 to 1983. Coincidentally, he was the player featured on that game’s season ticket (this year’s season ticket booklet features a different Giants alum or broadcaster on each ticket). And an AT&T Park usher pointed out it was also the 28th anniversary, to the day, of the game where Evans committed three errors in one inning to tie a National League record.

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Happy birthday

The Giants will officially turn 50, so to speak, with the first pitch of Tuesday’s game at 1:34 p.m. On April 15, 1958, at that same time, Ruben Gomez delivered the inaugural pitch of Major League Baseball on the West Coast to the Dodgers’ Gino Cimoli.

Before the 50th anniversary game, Cimoli will throw out the ceremonial first pitch with Giants Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, the 1958 National League Rookie of the Year. The pregame ceremony will honor Horace Stoneham, the Giants owner who moved the team from New York to San Francisco, and throughout the game, the scoreboard will feature interviews with fans who recall that first game at Seals Stadium.

sealsstadium.jpgSpeaking of Seals Stadium, at 10:30 a.m., the Giants will unveil a bronze plaque at the corner of 16th and Bryant streets, which is where Seals Stadium once stood. Cepeda, Willie Mays, Jim Davenport and Ed Bressoud from the 1958 team will attend, along with members of Stoneham’s family and the sisters of former Mayor George Christopher, who championed bringing the Giants to San Francisco.

If you’re coming to the game, get there early, since the first 20,000 fans will receive a print of the 1958 first pitch, adapted from Bill Purdom’s original painting. How nice is this print? When members of the media are offered some of the promotional items in the pressbox, like calendars or magnet schedules, a lot of them have little interest. But when the media folks got an early look at this print, they were practically lining up to get them, and at least one person has already purchased a frame for it.
grocerybag.jpg50thprint800.jpgAfter the anniversary game (which is also Jackie Robinson Day), the homestand wraps up Wednesday vs. the D-backs, with fans getting a reusable Giants grocery bag in celebration of Earth Day. It’s an especially timely giveaway, what with plastic grocery bags banned in many San Francisco stores.

Fine art

Little later than I’d hoped, but here’s the 50th anniversary banner they’re giving away at Sunday’s game.

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Heat wave

Folks in the Bay Area know it’s pretty warm today, and if you’re wondering what it’s like at AT&T Park — it’s warm here, too. Weather.com says it’s 68 right now, but honestly, it feels even warmer. I’d still bring a jacket tonight, though, since you never know what the wind might do.

Over the weekend, though, the most important things to bring will be sunscreen and a hat. The forecast calls for a high of 81(!) on Saturday and 76 on Sunday. Make sure to hydrate.

Everybody loves free stuff

Well, the last two nights have shown that you really shouldn’t leave early at AT&T Park, with the Giants getting walk-off heroics from Bengie Molina and Daniel Ortmeier.

(By the way, a little editorial aside here: Another thing you shouldn’t do at AT&T Park is the wave. Do you really want to be like Dodgers fans?)

As Opening Week continues with a visit from the Cardinals, there are several giveaways that will help a proud Giants fan appropriately decorate his or her home. Tonight, get the first in a series of posters (courtesy of AT&T) that replicate the cool “Gamer” street banners adorning the streets near AT&T Park. The first will be Matt Cain: “More arm, less talk.”

cain.jpgWhat’s neat is that all the posters have that strong orange stripe across the middle, so you could put them up end to end across a wall or two. Now that’s wallpaper.

magnetschedule.jpgOn Friday night, the first Orange Friday of the season, get that refrigerator essential the magnet schedule. Another fine addition to your kitchen would be a 50th anniversary commemorative mug, which fans supporting Saturday’s CHW Food Drive to benefit the San Francisco Food Bank will receive in exchange for a donation of nonperishable food items or $5.

Sunday is one of the nicer giveaways this season, a 50th anniversary banner. When I saw it at the media open house, I made sure to ask about getting one of my own — it’s really big and colorful and full of great memories (I’ll add a photo of it soon).

A thousand Boy Scouts will parade around the field before Sunday’s game, which is also the first Autograph Sunday for kids 16 and under. And as usual, postgame, kids get to run the bases.

Torch song

Wednesday night’s game to wrap up the Giants’ series with the Padres is also Olympic Night at AT&T Park, something the Giants have done in recent years to honor the large number of Olympic athletes who call the Bay Area home.

This year, they’ll be hosting the 40 torchbearers who had the honor of carrying the Olympic torch earlier in the day from McCovey Cove to Justin Herman Plaza in the torch’s only North American stop.

Though the torch run is slated to end by 3:30, fans should note that protests related to the torch run could lead to residual traffic problems later in the day, so plan accordingly.

Blown away

If you’re coming to the game tonight, hold onto your hat — literally. Right now, it’s one of the windiest days I’ve ever seen at the yard, with the flags and palm trees taking a real beating. It’s no Candlestick, but you can hear the wind howling through the tunnels.

Here’s a video I took of the flags atop the view level whipping around:
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The batting practice screens keep getting knocked over by the wind. Check it out:

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I don’t think it’ll affect the scheduled postgame fireworks, but make sure to bundle up, because at this ballpark, the coldest times are when it’s windy.

It’s that time

Tomorrow’s Opening Day at AT&T Park, and the Giants have some neat stuff planned for their 50th anniversary home opener.

The gates will open early, at 10:35 a.m., but if you enter between noon and 12:30, you just might receive your Opening Day calendar directly from a Giants player. Two will be stationed at each gate to greet fans and hand out the free calendars.

Lineups will be introduced at 12:51, followed by a moment of silence for Kevin Shanahan (the Giants’ massage therapist who died of cancer last November) at 1:01. Jazz artist Boney James will perform the national anthem, and the traditional Opening Day flyover of two Navy FA-18s will come courtesy of Lts. Adam Smith, Andrew Pearson, Jake Huber and Jeffrey Millar from VX-9 squadron out of China Lake, Calif. Plug your ears for that around 1:04.

At 1:07, the Giants will kick off their tribute to the 1958 team, the first to play in San Francisco. Felipe Alou, John Antonelli, Ed Bressoud, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Davenport, Whitey Lockman, Willie Mays, Mike McCormick, Stu Miller, Daryl Spencer, Don Taussig, Valmy Thomas and Al Worthington will be there, driven around the warning track in 1950s convertibles.

The Giants are keeping secret who’ll be throwing out the first pitch at 1:26, saying only that it will be “a person who has been with the San Francisco Giants family for a long time. The Giants would like to honor the dedication, loyalty and commitment to the club shown by this person.”

My guess (and I have zero inside info here) is that it has to be clubhouse manager Mike Murphy, who is not only beloved but has been with the team since it came to San Francisco in 1958. He was a bat boy for the first two seasons at Seals Stadium and then became a clubhouse attendant in 1960 before being promoted to clubhouse manager in 1980.

First pitch is slated for 1:35, though pregame ceremonies almost always run over. One good omen — the Giants are 6-2 in home openers since moving to AT&T Park in 2000.