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AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, would be my eighth stadium I’ve visited in my lifetime. But it’s always a little nerve-racking to visit a new stadium because I know very little about the architecture of the stadium, and I’m absolutely clueless of how the inside of the park is set up. So when I got to the park on Saturday morning I planned to get there early enough to allow me some time to explore the entire ballpark and try to get the upper hand on some knowledge before I enter. Todays game was set to start at 4:10pm which meant the gates should open around 2:10pm. To my surprise they opened at 1:55pm. An extra 15 minutes of BP never hurt anyone…
On my way in from my hotel I stopped at Candlestick Park. That’s where the Giants used to play baseball. Now the stadium just belongs to the San Francisco 49ers. Here are some pictures I took of Candlestick Park:
It was kind of awesome to be around that stadium because of all the history that has taken place there. Baseball and football. But the Giants now played in AT&T Park and that’s where I was headed.
It took forever to get to the stadium, by the way. If it weren’t for the road signs that directed my every turn I would have been lost. My GPS crapped out on me about the time I exited the freeway. I’ll have to say; of all the stadiums I’ve been to AT&T Park was the hardest to find. Yeah, its huge and its a stadium. But it’s well hidden. When I arrived I expected to see thousands of people already at the gates. But it was like a ghost town for the most part. So I wandered around looking at the park and surrounding areas. I even visited the team store. The Giants team store is by far the largest I’ve ever seen and they had so much Giants gear it was incredible!
The team store even had three showcase windows full of autographed baseballs. Mainly from Tim Lincecum, Willie Mays, Brian Wilson, and Will Clark. And all of them were over $100 dollars. And all of them were signed in black ink. If you’re an autograph collector you’d know better than to have baseballs signed with black ink. Blue ink is ideal and after you get the baseball signed you spray a light coat of hairspray on the ball to “set” the autograph. The reason why you don’t use black ink to sign on a baseball is because black ink fades. And never, ever use a sharpie to get a baseball signed. The ink just soaks into the cowhide and within a year your autograph will fade way. It doesn’t matter if you place the signed baseball in one of those UV protected ball cubes and store it in your closet. Anyway. Enough of autographs 101.
I took some more pictures of around the stadium. Check `em out.
The last picture is of McCovey Cove. Now you get a history lesson on baseball. Why did they name that area McCovey Cove? McCovey Cove is the unofficial name of a section of San Francisco Bay beyond the right field wall of AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, coined after famed Giants first baseman Willie McCovey. The proper name for the cove is China Basin, which is the mouth of Mission Creek as it meets the bay. The cove is bounded along the north by AT&T Park, with a ferry landing and a breakwater at the northeast end. The southern shore is lined by China Basin Park and McCovey Point. To the east, it opens up to San Francisco Bay , while the west end of the cove is bounded by the Lefty O’Doul Drawbridge. And that brings us to this picture.
This is the O’Doul gate. This is also the gate where I entered the ballpark. As you can see it’s not a gate where you can walk in and go right to the field. It has about a million stairs to climb before you reach the field. And now for a second history lesson in baseball. Why did they name this gate the O’doul gate? Because Francis Joseph “Lefty” O’Doul was a minor league player that played with the San Francisco Seals, and also played professional ball for many teams including the New York Yankees and the New York Giants. He also managed the San Francisco Seals where he was the skipper of the infamous Hall of Famer Joe Dimaggio. O’Doul was a career .349 hitter and left the game with 113 home runs and 542 RBIs. Not only did he get one of the gates at AT&T Park named after him but he also got the drawbridge that people cross over McCovey Cove named after him too.
Today was also 2010 World Series champion hat giveaway day. The first 20,000 fans would receive a hat. I had no interest in getting a hat but I figured I’d snag one on the way in and then give it to a kid that didn’t get one later on in the day. I took this picture to show you just how many stairs I had to climb to get to field level. Take a look.
Since there were 20,000 people trying to get a hat security actually organized the onslaught of people quite well. They made it very clear which turnstiles would be open and they checked bags prior to the gates being opened to save on time. I appreciated that. And at 1:55pm they scanned our tickets, and allowed us to enter AT&T Park. I scampered through the turnstile, grabbed my World Series champion hat, and raced up the stairs. One I got to the top there was an open section that I darted through and I was on field level. BP was in full swing so I immediately started to scavenge for stray baseballs in the rows. I had the entire first base side to myself for about three minutes and I easily found two baseballs in the sections. The rows are slightly tighter here then they are at any other baseball stadium I have been to. So the baseballs were tucked away quite well. Here’s my view once I settled on a spot against the padded wall on the first base side.
AT&T Park kind of has that old school look with the bullpen out in foul territory. Just like at the Oakland Coliseum. (I refuse to call it Overstock.com Coliseum) Here is another pictures with the Giants on the field.
One thing I took notice of is that when the Giants fans calls out to the players for them to throw a baseball into the crowd they’re a little more demanding and they seem to forget to say “thank you” afterwards. I also noticed that people who drive in the San Francisco area are the worst drivers I’ve seen so far. I’ve been to many states and many cities too. But that didn’t stop the Giants from tossing baseballs into the crowd. I think they threw a total of three baseballs. I moved around quite a bit but I stayed close to the first base side. That was the side the Oakland Athletics used so after about 15 minutes of standing around I decided to put on my Athletics hat and I wandered back down to the front row. Just as I did a sharp line drive came right at me. It landed a few rows up and took a bounce right off the seats as I was giving chase, and bounced right to me. I was actually that guy that got the lucky bounce. I thought that was extra awesome even though I got heckled by some Giants fan in the front row. He kept asking for the baseball. I laughed a few times but he kept asking. So I quit laughing and ignored him.
When the Athletics came out to stretch, throw the ball around, and do their thing I noticed a section out in the outfield that was barricaded off and people were standing there. Like, a lot of people. Check out the picture below and look on the right side of the picture where my red arrow is. Eventually, as batting practice continued, that section filled up quite a bit. I’m not sure of the details of how to get there or if it’s just for season ticket holders or what. Even if I knew about that spot I probably wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to stand in there just because it’s such a small spot and not a lot of room to move.
Besides. Lining up behind Jerry Blevins (who just got designated for assignment) and Brad Ziegler was way cooler than standing out in a barricaded area on the field with a bunch of Giants fans. (no offense) Not to mention while I was standing there, texting my Mother, a frozen rope line drive was hit right to me. All I heard was “heads up!” and in that split second that I looked up I stuck my glove up and snagged it. Then I went back to texting. It kind of reminded me of that Evan Longoria commercial where he bare hands that baseball that nearly took out the reporter. If you haven’t seen it you can view it on Youtube.com or something. It’s pretty funny. But fake. But my catch wasn’t fake at all. All this happened within the first 30 minutes of BP. Four baseballs in 30 minutes at AT&T Park. A stadium that I had no idea about, never been to before, and made me really want to come back! I just kept thinking of how run-down the Oakland Coliseum was and couldn’t help to appreciate AT&T Park. I couldn’t imagine being a baseball player and being forced to play in a dump like the Coliseum. It would drive me mad. I bet those guys are always looking forward to road trips to Safeco Field, Target Field or even U.S Cellular Field.
Anyway. Here is a picture from behind home plate.
I took this picture to show just how crowded BP would be in the beginning. AT&T Park has sold out in 18 consecutive games but that doesn’t mean BP would be so crowded that there wouldn’t be a snow balls chance in hell in getting a baseball. That’s what worried me the most. The 40,000 plus people showing up for BP.
I stayed inside the stadium for the first couple of innings and then decided to wander McCovey Cove. There weren’t a whole lot of kayakers in the water and no sign of the Bond’s Navy. But there were some interesting characters to say the least.
And this area is for people who want to stand for nine innings and not pay for a ticket. AT&T Park actually lets people watch baseball for free! I think that is really awesome that MLB allows that. Especially since AT&T Park runs on a “by demand” system for tickets. The cheapest you can get into the park is $12 dollars. But those tickets sell out so fast that most people end up paying $100 dollars for a Standing Room Only ticket. Which that’s absolute crap. And security is a stickler on standing outside the yellow “SRO” area.
In the above picture that’s the “free” area. And in the below picture that’s the view of the “free” area.
It’s actually a very good view. Its better than a lot of “SRO” areas and some seats inside the park. So if you like free baseball and if you like the Giants and if you’re in San Francisco when the Giants are playing and if you really don’t care if you get inside or not… well, this is the place to hangout. It’s right by McCovey Cove. You can’t miss it.
But I like being inside the stadium. Can’t you tell?
I had to get my tickets on Stubhub.com because on the Giants website all that were available were $164.00 tickets. So I bought some $30 dollar “cheap” tickets and ended up at the 300 level. They were actually pretty awesome seats with a more than awesome view.
I finally got to watch Tim Lincecum pitch. He pitched the entire game and shutout the Athletics 3-0. That was his fifth shutout of the season and his 9th career complete game. He pitched around 130 pitches I think. The guy truly is a freak.
I’m also snagging baseballs for charity this year. I have two ongoing projects and down below you can see how much money I’ve raised so far this year. So I wanted to give a shout out and thanks to all that have participated and donated this year. It’s very helpful and I appreciate it. If you want to donate or at least get some addition information, by all means. You can either leave a question/comment on this blog entry or go to this website. http://www.crowdrise.com/SnaggingBaseballsforPuppies/fundraiser/WaynePeck
Game; May 21st 2011 Oakland Athletics vs San Francisco Giants
Snagging Baseballs for Puppies has raised; $32.40 this season.
Snagging Baseballs for Relief in Japan has raised; $14.00 this season