Why I love the San Francisco Giants - Seeing PacBell Park for the First Time
Shots of the beautiful park...
Seeing Pacific Bell Park the First Time
MY SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS EXPERIENCE….
PART II… Seeing Pacific Bell Park for the Very First Time
Being a long time fan of baseball, it was time to see the ‘new park,’ in San Francisco. Pacific Bell - fondly referred to as PacBell Park opened at the turn of this century, all new and sparkling and the pride of the San Francisco Bay Area.
I had not seen the park yet but my best friend, Al, and I had secured tickets to see our first game and we were on our way to what quickly became a regular trek for us during the years 2001 through 2006. But, I’m getting ahead of myself…..
We worried that parking would be difficult or impossible to find. I worried that we would be caught up in the well known traffic jams of Hy 80 and Hy 101 (if we choose that route). We wanted to arrive early so that, just as in my childhood days, we’d see batting practice and, maybe---if we were real lucky---we might actually get a player to throw a practice ball our way.
My worries were groundless. The traffic moved very cooperatively (the ‘powers that be’ must have made sure we would have no obstructions in our way to ruin this day!), the weather was warm and sunny and, believe it or not!, we found parking just a few blocks from the park. As time passed, of course, we learned that the time we arrived was perfect because the downtown workers were leaving and baseball fans were not, yet, arriving! We parked the car, locked it securely and started our walk towards PacBell! We could see the beautiful brick structure as we turned the corner from our parking space to Willlie Mays Plaza! .
Huge and beautiful! There were banners hanging from lamp posts up and down Willie Mays Plaza . Players were portrayed in their particular roles; batting, catching, throwing and running! Names I knew well! Rob Nen, our fantastic closer! Barry Bonds, the one and only member of the “500 - 500” Club (500 homeruns, 500 stolen bases), J.T. Snow, the best first baseman around, Ray Durham, Benito Santiago…bigger than life and flying high!
Our excitement and anticipation grew exponentially! With each step, the smells, sounds and energy radiated from the ‘yard,’ enticing, alluring and seductive! Hearts pounding, eyes wide and steps quickening, we hurriedly found the lines which were forming just outside the huge, iron gates of the park. People dressed in Giants gear were everywhere!!! Unlike my childhood days, this time, there were sports paraphernalia, clothing, flags and souvenirs galore! All those around us were wearing their colors proudly; proclaiming their allegiance to their team…the San Francisco Giants!
Before long, a man slipped out a side door and began to alert the crowd that the doors were about to open! Cheers rang from the crowds and voices began to raise! He stirred us up with whoops and hollers, urging us to respond to his prompts! We did so, gladly! “Go Giants!!
With tickets in hand, the doors open wide, we rushed through the gates and turnstiles where friendly ticket takers scanned our passes (which we got to keep as souvenirs) and we flooded the walkway up to the Mezzanine level of the park
To say l felt like that kid in the ‘50’s would be an understatement! As we took the last turn before reaching the steps which would lead us down to our seats, I felt as though my chest would burst. So exciting! We walked the promenade to the top of the steps and looked down! Oh MY God!!! How beautiful it was! Here we were…in the best ballpark of all! Lawn perfectly manicured, so many tasty treats to try, bats being made to our left and baseballs being stitched to our right…it was a viewers’ delight! So much stimulation, all baseball oriented, all around us! Thrilling!
The players were on the field - it was batting practice - home team first, visitors last. The Giants greatest hitter, Mr. Barry Bonds, was in the batting cage about to slam a “splash hit” into the water! Pitchers were warming up near the third base line, so close we could almost touch them. As we stood there, we could hear the ‘whosh’ of the ball as the pitchers threw. And the ‘crack” as bat hit ball! Team members and support staff were in the outfield, catching the balls as batters sent them flying. Members of the opposing team (this day, it was the Arizona Diamondbacks) and our guys were jostling one another, talking and laughing! Managers stood behind the batting cage as they watched their players do their thing!
Our seats were on field level on the 3rd base side right near where Barry Bonds played the outfield! We could not have asked for better seats as a first time experience at the yard. Lots of foul balls come this way, and there are many opportunities to grab a game ball! After placing our belongings in our seats (no worry about theft…the security at the park is great and ushers very aware of their sections!) we explored this new playground, checking out everything we could before game time. The proud proclamation “there isn’t a bad seat in the house’ rang true! As we traveled from level to level and all parts of each level, it was obvious that great care and planning had gone into the creation of PacBell Park. Every view a good one, every seat boasting an excellent view of the field!
Soon, it was time for the game to begin. The announcer (Renel) broadcast players and positions of both teams and our guys jogged onto the field, gloves on, caps on…GAMETIME!!!
Fans roared! Music emanated from speakers positioned all around the park, egging us on to cheer LOUDER!!! And we DID! Go GIANTS!!!
Different from my childhood memories, too, was the fact that each player had his own “theme song.” As each hitter approached the plate, his song would play loudly! Soon, we were familiar with all the songs of all our players, singing and humming along. This music helped to build to a crescendo, hoping to throw the opposing pitcher off his game. Just as he was about to throw the first pitch to heach new batter, the music abruptly stopped and it became Serious business!
The day progressed very well! The Giants played a good game and finished winners! We were so satisfied with our first PacBell visit! It had been a wonderful time, the result of which was our decision to return again and again. For the next 6 years, we were regulars, happily seated in the best seats in the house. We purchased Season Tickets for those years which allowed us to attend every home game. And we did!
But, before we were able to secure the Season Tickets, we had to find other sources of tickets to see our team win!
For our second game we decided that we wanted really great seats and these weren’t available on the Giants’ website. All the sought after locations were sold out. So, we decided to cast fate to the wind and try our luck with the many ’scalpers’ whom we’d seen on our previous visit. They were everywhere and rumors abounded about whether they were ethical or not and whether it was possible to get a good deal. We opted for chance!
On that date, having made the trip easily and parking was not a problem, again…we were convinced that fate and good luck were on our side. We nervously walked up to a group of men holding dozens of tickets in their hands. Al was a “natural” as he bartered with one man while the others looked on. Soon, he had several vying for the sale. His sneaky plan was working! Before we knew it, we had one seller offering Field Club seats located in 107, first row right by FIRST BASE! and for FACE VALUE!!! Everything was going our way! We could NEVER have gotten such a good price had we found the tickets available online or through other avenues…NO! We were the ecstatic beneficiaries of the “competitive open market” philosophy. Al whipped out the cash, handed it to that gentleman and we were on our way to our first taste of the Field Club experience!
If you have never been lucky enough to manage Field Club seating, you're missing out on an amazing thing! So close, you can hear the ball slap the glove of the first baseman. Words flying back and forth between the base coach and runner, red dirt crunching as feet pound to reach base before the ball...it is quite an experience. And this is just the First base side of Field Club. This revered seating is situated on the field to the left to 3rd base and the right to first. Drinks and food can be ordered from your seat and it is delivered right to you ... you don't have to move an inch. It is quite a treat to be seated in FC! For the next 5 years, we did just that and...there will be more to come describing just how awesome it is to see Major League Baseball San Francisco Giants style from the best seats in the house.
MORE TO COME….PART III…The Boys of Summer or How I Met the San Francisco Giants Team Mates and other players, too