Quick side note — Standing in center field after Sunday’s game: a camel. You don’t see that every day.
The animal was one of several on hand for the Giants’ annual Picnic in the Park for season-ticket holders. The team’s most loyal fans also got autographs from a host of Giants players, played catch on the field, enjoyed games and received raffle prizes.
This weekend was a showcase for how important history is to the Giants’ organization, as they kicked off the three-game set with Dave Dravecky as the Forever Giants Friday guest. It continued on Saturday with the second of three wonderful 50th Anniversary reunions, this one for pitchers and catchers from the San Francisco era. Our associate reporter David Biderman did a story about the event, and I contributed some photos.
On Sunday, the Giants celebrated Humm Baby himself, former Giants manager Roger Craig, who threw out the first pitch. Fans got Humm Baby T-shirts and the scoreboard showed highlights from the ’80s when Craig’s “You Gotta Like These Kids” teams did great things.
It seems like forever since the Giants played a home game, but they’re back in action Friday against Vallejo native CC Sabathia and the Brewers.
It’s going to be an exciting homestand, starting with Orange Friday and Crazy Crab Night. The anti-mascot, whose tenure lasted for just the 1984 season, will make an appearance, and the first 20,000 fans will get a Crazy Crab bobblehead. Before the game, there will be a special Crazy Crab Feed, where attendees will get a different version of the Crazy Crab bobblehead, this one with trash, rosin bags and gloves strewn at its feet (and its hat at a rakish tilt). Note that you need special prepurchased tickets to attend the Crab Feed and get the special bobblehead.
Remember that it’s also a Forever Giants Friday, with a special guest signing autographs from 5:45 to 6:15 near the Giants bullpen. My guess is that it’ll be one of the players attending Saturday’s Pitchers and Catchers 50th Anniversary Reunion (listen to KNBR at 8 a.m. Friday to find out who it is). There’s quite an impressive list of players slated to attend this second of three 50th Anniversary reunions, including Dave Dravecky, Mike McCormick, Robb Nen, John Montefusco, Ed Halicki and Gaylord Perry.
Following Saturday’s game, fans are invited to stay for the annual Fellowship Day, featuring testimonies from Giants and (likely) Brewers players.
Former Giants manager Roger Craig is attending the reunion on Saturday, and he’ll also be there Sunday for a “Humm Baby” celebration. The first 20,000 fans get a Humm Baby T-shirt, and former Giants announcers Hank Greenwald and Ron Fairly will also be at the park.
The homestand continues for six more games vs. the Nationals and D-backs, with promotions including a Matt Cain bobblehead, the annual Toy Drive and more. I’ll have further details on the remainder of the homestand later. See you at the yard!
Catching up on a busy week at AT&T Park as the Giants prepare to celebrate Independence Day with the series opener vs. the Dodgers:
The Giants got a jump on this weekend’s salute to military veterans with their own Military Appreciation Night on Wednesday. Hundreds of military personnel and their friends and family were able to attend either with the Giants’ special ticket package or with the more than 400 tickets donated by season ticket holders.
Servicemen and women and volunteers from Operation: Care and Comfort were stationed at the gates to collect donations for care packages. Fans could also take the opportunity to write a letter to a member of the military, like the family below (one son is showing off where he signed the letter written by Mom; the other is getting a high-five from an OCC volunteer).
Barry Zito‘s Strikeouts for Troops program was honored before the game, and Army veteran Willie Mays received a plaque in recognition of his service. The Giants wore the special blue stars-and-stripes caps that all teams are wearing over the Fourth of July weekend in support of MLB’s Welcome Back Veterans program, and the night capped with a fireworks show.
Speaking of honors, my colleague Chris Haft wrote a nice story about how former Giants catcher Bob Brenly appreciated being included in the Giants’ tribute to the ’80s featured on the left-field wall as part of the team’s 50th Anniversary celebration. Here’s the full wall (I could only use a portion of the photo in the story itself):
One fun note: On Monday, when I arrived at the park around 3 p.m., I saw a bunch of fans get a surprise as they waited by the visiting players’ entrance for autographs or milled around Willie Mays Plaza — jogging by were pitchers Jonathan Sanchez and Merkin Valdez, getting in a little workout with a lap around the outside of the ballpark.
As if the annual Bay Bridge Series weren’t enough reason to come to the ballpark this weekend …
Based on the clues on the 50th Anniversary page, I can say without a doubt that the Forever Giants Fridays guest will be beloved third baseman Matt Williams. He’ll also be at the ballpark on Saturday for the first of the three big 50th Anniversary reunions, this one for Giants infielders from the past 50 years. Some of the others scheduled to attend (subject to change, of course):
Joe Amalfitano, Dave Bergman, Ernie Bowman, Ed Bressoud, Orlando Cepeda, Jim Davenport, Shawon Dunston, Darrell Evans, Tito Fuentes, David Green, Ron Hunt, Duane Kuiper, Johnnie LeMaster, Greg Litton, Bill Madlock, Willie McCovey, Willie Montanez, Rich Murray, John Patterson, Marty Perez, Mike Phillips, Ken Reitz, Steve Scarsone, J.T. Snow, Daryl Spencer, Joe Strain, Derrel Thomas and Scot Thompson.
Before Saturday’s game, the A’s and Giants wives will face off in their annual softball game, always an entertaining event. And the first 20,000 fans will get a neat 50th Anniversary bandana.
Sunday’s giveaway is a good-looking Giants water bottle, in honor of CHW’s annual Make Time for Fitness Day. One of the many cool things about AT&T Park is that there’s an official CHW walking course there. It’s a good workout in a beautiful setting, so there’s another good reason to get to the park early.
It’s almost time for the Giants to return to AT&T Park, and they’re giving you no excuse to miss the action this weekend vs. the Padres. On Friday, when Matt Cain opposes Greg Maddux for what seems like the one billionth time, fans can get $13 off selected tickets (use the code OMAR when ordering online) as part of the Giants’ night of honoring Omar Vizquel for breaking Luis Aparicio’s record for most games played at shortstop.
Aparicio himself will be in attendance for the pregame ceremony honoring his fellow Venezuelan. And because it’s also Until There’s a Cure Night, there will be postgame fireworks. It’s also Orange Friday, so dress appropriately.
More discounts come Sunday, when Tim Lincecum pitches. The Giants K Zone Offer takes $9 off selected tickets, since Lincecum, Tyler Walker and Brian Wilson combined to strike out nine batters Tuesday. Use code GIANTSK when ordering online. Fans attending Sunday’s game not only get to see Lincecum pitch, the first 20,000 receive a good-looking 50th Anniversary cap.
In between, on Saturday, we get the interesting (but unrelated) combination of Marine Mammal Day (a Lou Seal favorite) and LDS Day. The first 5,000 fans who donate $5 to the Marine Mammal Center on Saturday will receive a commemorative pin.
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.
Speaking 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.
After 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.
Little later than I’d hoped, but here’s the 50th anniversary banner they’re giving away at Sunday’s game.
(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.”
What’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.
On 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.
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.
“Welcome back” — that’s what the ballpark sound system was playing as fans entered AT&T Park for tonight’s exhibition game against the Mariners, the first time the Giants have played at home this year.
One of the more noticeable differences tonight is the absence of PA announcer Renel Brooks-Moon, but it’s for a very good reason: Renel has been selected to be the ballpark announcer for Saturday’s Civil Rights Game in Memphis, Tenn. This is a huge honor for Renel, who hopes to be back in time for Sunday’s exhibition finale vs. the A’s.
Yesterday, the Giants held their annual media open house, the highlight of which — other than the eagerly anticipated sampling of new ballpark food, which included a phenomenal catfish po boy sandwich from McCovey’s Restaurant — involved the two new luxury suites being built at the ballpark. The Legends Club, located in the left-field corner of the Club level just below the retired number plaques, is a large, all-inclusive entertainment space that can hold up to 120 people.
The other suite, the McCovey Cove Loft, is a quirky addition, a 40-person space built into the right-field wall. Fans who sit in Section 150 of the Arcade are probably very happy to note that the “shed” originally constructed to house Rusty, the reviled mechanical man who used to appear at the park, is gone, no longer obstructing right-field views. In the shed’s place is the opening for the McCovey Cove Loft, which sits just to the right of where the out-of-town scoreboard crew does its work.
Also new this season will be added food offerings on the View Level, including another outlet of the very popular Orlando’s Caribbean Barbecue (home of the famous Cha-Cha Bowl) and a carvery station. They’ve also installed a glass wind screen along the top of the outer wall, along with a drink rail, so fans wanting to check out the magnificent city and bay views from the View Level concourse will be more comfortable.
Some other cool things on tap for the ballpark this season:
* If you bring your wireless-enabled device to the park this year, you’ll be able to get instant replays on the in-house WiFi network. Wireless food ordering is coming soon.
* The View Level will have a timeline display of photos from the last 50 years of Giants baseball, and 16 new display cases on the Promenade and View levels will showcase Giants jerseys from 1951 to today.
* On the streets around the ballpark, the light-pole banners feature a pretty neat advertising campaign centered around the “Gamer” theme the Giants are using this season. My favorite is the one for catcher Bengie Molina, which says “Stands in front of freight trains — Bengie is a gamer.”
Some photos of stuff from the media open house are available here.