Go! San Francisco Giants Baseball!!! Double Life of a Little Girl
Recent pics of my SF Giants Ballpark Experience
PART I - San Francisco Giants Childhood Memories
I am a baseball fan and this is MY time of year! Why? Because my San Francisco Giants are competing in the post season. The team is great, pitching top notch and young hitters are making wood contact the ball ! The enthusiasm which pervades the team is infectious! The fans are exuberant! The ball park is second to none! What a great time to be a fan of America’s favorite passtime!
As children, my older brother and I would attend many S.F. Giants games at Candlestick Park. Cold and windy though it was, we were never subdued in our excitement as we watched our team beat the hated L. A. Dodgers.
My father was a huge fan and also quite a philanthropist in our small town. He participated in many fund raising events and actually was instrumental in founding “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” a program designed to introduce ’under privileged’ kids to the benefits of sports which included attending Big League games. Weekly, a group of children would board a huge school bus, packed with kids and adults alike, heading off to the Bay Area to watch the San Francisco Giants play. A motley crew of all ages and backgrounds, we’d join together in one of life’s greatest experiences! My brother and I always got to go since our father was a big part of it, and we loved every second of this wonderful, once in a lifetime childhood experience.
Early in the morning, everyone gathered at my father’s hotel in downtown Napa. At the appointed time, with the bus packed full of moms and dads, sisters, brothers, old and young, we’d pull away from the parking lot and head on to Hy. 80 and our beloved team. During the ride down, we’d break out in songs such as “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” Loud and filled with laughter, a riotous mob headed south to the “promised land, “we’d roll down the freeway full of expectation and glee!
When we arrived, it was ‘every man for himself’ as big and little bodies squeezed into each other and, eventually, out the door of the bus. It was as if we didn’t really think we’d EVER get out of that bus and into that ballpark, and everyone else was just moving too darn slow!!! Running and screaming, while the ‘old folks’ walked patiently but rapidly to keep up with our dancing feet; our scrappy gang pushed through the turnstiles ‘en masse’ and, rather, like a mess!! Smiles and laughter, fingers pointing, “did you see that??!” “Oh, look over there!” were the cries everyone could hear as our scruffy group burst upon the scene and into the park.
WOW! It was batting practice, and we got to see the players up close and personal! Because we were a ‘special group,’ we were allotted ‘special priviliges!’ These included getting to meet some of the players, trying to shag practice balls and, in general, thoroughly enjoy ourselves while, (looking back) probably, making enormous nuisances of ourselves! If you can imagine this; freckle faced, spiky haired, rosy cheeked kids cut loose in America’s biggest playground! We were something to behold!
We were hardly able to contain ourselves while running in all directions at once. And, back then, there were peanuts and popcorn and so many juicy delights. And, when the 'old folks' ordered beer, the vendor came right up to our seats with a tray which was attached to a cord around his neck. The tray held Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller High Life and the vendor had a church key which he used to open the can right there in front of us, and pour the golden liquid into big cups which the grownups seemed to just love!!! After a while, everyone was laughing and having a good 'ole time!*
We rooted and cheered for our home team! Innings came and went; sometimes "three up - three down" while we yelled ourselves hoarse! It was cool being a witness as the kids from Brother Can You Spare a Dime saw their first Big League Game in a Major League yard! And, of course,it was boasting time for us as my big brother and I were all bragging and strutting our stuff 'cuz, we'd been there before! it was all in fun and gaity and these times brought kids together who may have never have gotten to meet, otherwise.
During these early years, many sports figures would pass through Napa as, even then, it was becoming famous as a wine growing region thus little Napa developed into a destination stop which drew big name celebrities from all walks of the entertainment world. My father, being the humanitarian that he was, also held the honor of being a “big fish in a small pond” in that his gracious manner propelled him to a position of notoriety which also carried the benefit of being Napa’s unofficial ‘meeter and greeter’ of famous visitors. Often times, these well known celebs would stay at my father’s hotel, smack in the middle of our little town, U.S.A.
My brother and I got to meet many such visitors over the years, not the least of whom were Joe DiMaggio, Gaylord Perry, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Felipe Alou, Rocky Graziano (boxer), as well as movie actors and politicians. Of course, at the time, I did not know the major significance of these magical times or the big name players we met.…we didn’t have a clue! I DO remember thinking how funny some of the names sounded and asking my father if they were “real.”
My fascination with baseball took back burner to other things happening in my life for several years but, in early 2000, it sprang back to life in a BIG WAY! My father had become debilitated and needed constant care and attention. He was having trouble with a recurring illness which had to be monitored along with strict instructions to adhere to a special diet. I took on these duties willingly which eventually necessitated my father moving into my home.
I made special arrangements with my contractor to open up walls, changing the floor plan extensively, in order to have eyes on my father at all times as well as the ability to hear him. And hear him I did or, should I say, I heard dad’s TV on and my once beloved San Francisco Giants turned up loud so that he wouldn’t miss a pitch or a hit! I found myself drawn to that TV…anticipating, among other milestones, #500 by none other than Barry Bonds. It was thrilling! And WHAT a TEAM! JT Snow, Rich Aurilia, Benito Santiago, “Woody” (Kirk Reurter), Robb Nen and more!
Soon, I was watching every game with my father and my friend, Al. We’d stay up late into the night during the evening games, all situated around my father’s bed…cheering on our team! Sometimes, I’d be too tired to stay awake but I’d rise from bed for one reason or another to hear that familiar sound, those wonderful SF Giants announcers, Kruk and Kuip, cheers emanating from the screen as one of the hitters hit it “out of here.” Of course, ”Kruk and Kuip” (San Francisco Giants announcers, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow) knew how to incite the crowd to near hysteria! Then, without question, I’d find myself pulled into the sheer madness of frenzy and the rest, as you say, is history.
After my father passed, I continued to follow the team as I was “hooked like a big fish!” I hadn’t actually been to a game in a very long time and had never seen PacBell Park (as it was called back then.) My friend Al suggested that we go to a game in my father’s memory as, sadly, father had never been well enough to visit the new park. So, we decided to cast fate to the wind and purchase tickets online. This was months in advance of the date we both were free so we had a long time to anticipate the actual date!
We were so excited! Yeah! We’re going to the new ballpark to root and rally for our team! Boy oh boy! Soon, we had tickets in hand (mailed via U.S.P.S. - how convenient is that!!?), tucked securely in Al’s pocket, and we were on the road! Old memories of that school bus filled with other fans and singing, riotous voices flooded my mind as we rolled south on Hy80 towards San Francisco and OUR Giants!
Filled with excitement and anticipation, we sped towards what would become a 6 year love affair with the SF Giants...,Post Season Play Offs and more...
Stay tuned for Part II . Our drive to the yard, fiding the best seats in the house for less than face value! Beginner's luck.
Coming soon: My 4 day Wrigley field extravaganza with wild women Buffy and Jen and front row seats
The beer is still served this way at Wrigley Field..the "Friendly Confines." That's another story..how Buffy, Jen and I spent 3 glorious days in ROW 1 - front and center for all three games of the San Francisco Giants vs the Cubbies!
Stay tuned...more to come: "How I stole 2nd Base," The Boys of Summer: "Meeting Rob Nen, Barry Bonds, Shawon Dunston, Yorvit Torrealba, Ray Durham, Marquis Grissom, and other team members," "My greatest fantasy - Benito Santiago, and how he signed my glove by surprise!"
Part II to follow soon….