(Administrative note: After having to give up early last season, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with blogging about ballpark happenings this season, but I’m going to try.)
Wednesday was the annual media open house at AT&T Park, where the Giants discuss what exciting things are planned for the upcoming season (beyond the guys in uniforms throwing a ball around).
Opening Weekend kicks off April 9 with Opening Day vs. the Braves. San Francisco’s own Matt Nathanson will perform the national anthem (seriously, if you don’t know this guy, go download “Come On Get Higher” RIGHT NOW) and the first pitch will be thrown out by a mystery San Francisco sports legend. Toss out your guesses on Twitter (address to @sfgiants or tag it #sfgiants), and no, it’s not Barry Bonds.
But speaking of Bonds, he’ll be at AT&T Park on April 11 as part of the 10th anniversary of the first regular-season game played at the yard. Other guests from that 2000 National League West championship team include Rich Aurilia, Marvin Bernard, Ellis Burks, Felipe Crespo, Bobby Estalella, Shawn Estes, Aaron Fultz, Mark Gardner, Jeff Kent, Ramon Martinez, Bill Mueller, Robb Nen, Armando Rios, Kirk Rueter and J.T. Snow.
The night before that, Tim Lincecum will be honored for winning his second consecutive Cy Young Award, with postgame fireworks also planned.
Here’s a sampling of some of the giveaways planned this year:
Six bobblehead giveaways include this awesome Willie Mays “The Catch” bobblehead on May 16 (the Giants started the bobblehead craze with a Mays bobblehead back in the ’90s):
An Orange and Black Attack team member shows off the skateboard deck to be given away May 30:
Another Orange and Black Attack member models the “wearable blanket” being given away April 23:
This next one isn’t a giveaway, but it’s sure to be popular — Tim Lincecum wigs will be sold at the ballpark. Here, senior vice president Mario Alioto models the wig with both a Giants cap and with Lincecum’s preferred headwear, a beanie:
The highlight of media day (at least for the media) is a sampling of some of the new and returning food items offered at the ballpark. Some of the new comestibles include cheesesteaks, a caprese sandwich, a classic grilled Reuben, a Columbus St. Combo, a Lettieri Family Italian beef sandwich, a potato bar, sushi bar and grilled kabobs.
A new party area is coming to the park — the Coors Light Deck out in right-center (near the flagpoles and the cable car). Watch the video below to learn more about this space:
And finally, I leave you with a photo of the new Guest Services uniforms. Much cooler than the old green and beige numbers:
The Giants held their annual media day Wednesday, with tons of information about what will be happening at AT&T Park this season. It’s too much to share in one post, so I’ll dole out the highlights over the next couple of days, but if you want to consume the info all at once, here’s a 15-page PDF with all the details.
Opening Week will be special as always, and they’ve already started hanging the bunting at the ballpark. Opening Day on Tuesday will have an especially American theme, as the first pitch will be thrown out by national hero Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who safely landed a jet in New York’s Hudson River, saving the lives of all the passengers and crew. He’s a local guy from the East Bay town of Danville.
The national anthem will be sung by Taylor Hicks, who won the fifth season of “American Idol” and is now starring as Teen Angel in the national production of “Grease” currently performing in San Francisco.
The next game is Opening Night, and in addition to the traditional postgame fireworks show, it’ll be the night Tim Lincecum officially receives his 2008 National League Cy Young Award (the first 20,000 pins get a Lincecum Cy Young pin). Randy Johnson makes his Giants debut as well, looking to notch one of the five wins he needs for 300.
The Giants return home Monday for a weeklong homestand, and prior to the opener against the Braves, there will be the latest addition to the Giants’ wildly successful heritage celebrations: the first Luau Night at AT&T Park.
Those who purchase a special game ticket will get admission to the pregame luau in Lot D, a free adult beverage or Polynesian food option and the awesome Lou Seal grass skirt bobbler.
Other discounts for Monday’s game include tickets in honor of the San Francisco Marathon and to support Project Homeless Connect. Tuesday is the first annual Girl Scout Night with special tickets available for Girl Scout troops and their friends and families.
On Tuesday, the Giants present the 11th annual Organ Donor Awareness Night. When Giants bullpen coach Mark Gardner was a pitcher for the team, his wife, Lori, a former All-American softball player at Fresno State was diagnosed with liver cancer, receiving two transplants before her death in 2004. The Gardners became advocates for organ donations and the Giants supported the cause by holding Organ Donor Awareness events.
The first 10,000 fans at Tuesday’s game will get commemorative baseball cards of Giants players that include organ donation facts on one side.
After the Giants wrap up their homestand Wednesday vs. the Tigers, it’ll be time for an annual tradition that’s one of the most special experiences the Giants offer to fans: the AT&T Park Slumber Party.
I attended the first three Slumber Parties (this year will be the sixth time they’ve held it), and it’s hard to describe just how special the night is. While I get to go onto the field at AT&T Park on a regular basis, many fans dream about getting to just set foot on it once. At the Slumber Party, you get to spend the entire night there, and it’s pretty surreal.
The Giants also make it a very entertaining night all around, especially for families. The warning track is ringed with all kinds of games, from air hockey to Playstations to speed pitch, and in recent years, AT&T has set up a WiFi tent for fans to surf the Internet and send e-mail. Some fans even bring their own laptops to take advantage of the ballpark’s free wireless access; I did a live blog from the Slumber Party several years ago. Fans obviously enjoy the chance just to play catch and walk around barefoot on the lush lawn that the big leaguers tread upon. I still get a kick thinking of the two women who were thrilled to find the shells of Barry Bonds’ sunflower seeds in left field.
There’s plenty of food, all of the party variety (pizza, ice cream, popcorn), and a lot of fans get a kick out of eating dinner in the dugout. A couple of movies are usually shown on the ballpark’s video board, even nicer since it was replaced with a giant HD screen two years ago. In the past, they’ve also given away mattresses, with the lucky winners getting to sleep upon their prize that very night.
The wakeup call comes early at the ballpark, but I recommend getting up even before that to catch the sun rising over the East Bay hills. It’s a spectacular sight as it rises over the Coke bottle in left, before a nice buffet breakfast and the delivery of photos taken at home plate the night before (the Giants’ amazing publications department stays up all night printing them). Fans leave with a cool goodie bag of Slumber Party favors.
This year, a great added bonus is an autograph session with Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson. That alone could be worth the price, as Lincecum is an All-Star candidate this year and Wilson is leading the league in saves.
I’d call the Slumber Party a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but there are folks who have returned year after year since the inaugural event in 2003. It’s not too late to sign up and see for yourself what a treat this night is.
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.
Boy, Saturday was quite an exciting day at AT&T Park, starting with the Junior Giants Glove Drive (photos to come soon), Aaron Rowand receiving his 2007 Gold Glove Award, Tim Lincecum’s dazzling performance and the season debut of Omar Vizquel.
Sunday will also be a great day at the yard as the Giants and Major League Baseball mark Mother’s Day with efforts to help fight breast cancer.
As part of Genentech Strike Out Cancer Day, the first 20,000 fans will receive special pink Giants caps, and as part of MLB’s “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” program in association with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, players will wear pink wristbands, titanium necklaces and ribbons, pink logos will appear on bases and home plate, pink lineup cards will be in the dugout and players will use pink bats that will later be autographed and auctioned, along with the special home plates, on MLB.com to raise funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.