Ballpark of the Week: AT&T Park (Home of the San Francisco Giants)
In September of 2012, I married the beautiful and talented Jen Weaver here in suburban Detroit, Michigan, in a ceremony that we had spent over a year putting together. It went off beautifully, and our months of DIY work was complete with both of us satisfied with how well it had gone. The day after the wedding, we embarked on our honeymoon: a trip up the California coast.
Our trip was to begin in San Diego, with a couple days there, before moving up the PCH to Santa Monica, Big Sur, Monterrey and finally, San Francisco. We planned all kinds of events for our week – parks, historical sites, shopping. And for that Friday, we decided we would take in a San Francisco Giants ballgame at AT&T Park.
The trip started off bumpy, with my wife getting food poisoning from the destination airport food. But she shook it off well and, with a convertible Mustang, the first couple days were awesome. Then, swimming in the ocean at 6:00 in the morning in Santa Monica, she broke my foot. Not intentionally, of course, but her kicking out into the waves one way met my kicking towards the beach, and my foot looked like it had been hit with a hammer. Refusing to go to the hospital on our honeymoon, I pressed on, pain-be-damned. That night, at a resort in Big Sur, I waited until she left the room and pressed hard on the swollen foot and felt the bone snap into place. I assumed that meant it had just been dislocated, and we journeyed on.
It wasn’t dislocated, of course. We didn’t know until I saw the doctor when I got home, but the foot had actually been broken in two different places. My doctor said that setting my own broken bone was one of the toughest things he had seen…and one of the dumbest. I got lucky and it went back together, but it could have gone horribly awry.
I tell this tale only to lay the pretext for our trip to the ballpark. By the time we got to San Fran, my foot was swollen and I could barely walk. Luckily, our hotel was a short half-mile or so from the ballpark, but hobbling along on one leg, it felt like one hundred. The game was against the San Diego Padres, and as we got closer and closer, the streets and sidewalks filling up with fans, I have never been happier to arrive at a park.
From the outside, the brick facade of AT&T park is reminiscent of Camden Yards. There are the usual statues of Giants greats outside, and plaques on the walls. Being a Friday night in a year where the Giants had already clinched a playoff spot, the crowd was enthusiastic and exuberant.
When picking our seats, I had researched online to find the section and area that would give us the best view, not only of the game, but of the beauty of San Francisco. Section 304 looked like a winner, with a dramatic vista of San Francisco Bay, the Bay Area bridge and overlooking McCovey Cove (where kayakers and boaters camp out to hit a home run clearing the wall in right and landing there in the bay). We headed up to our seats, stopping to take a look around the stadium as we went.
The sightlines of the field in the lower concourse were quite nice – one of the best things about newer parks is the ability to keep an eye on the game while getting concessions. We had been informed to be sure and get Gilroy Garlic Fries, so that was stop number one, along with some dogs. We were astounded by the concession selections. SanFran is known as a foodie paradise, but the fact it extends to their ballpark is truly awesome. There was seafood, veggie and vegan options, traditional ballpark food – even wine offerings that helped to remind that Napa was just a short drive away.
We made our way up to our seats, and were truly impressed by the view. Oakland over the distance, the field spread out beautiful in front of us. It was absolutely breathtaking. The seats around us began to fill, and we were even more surprised to note that everyone around us were season ticket holders, and knew each other! In fact, it wasn’t until the 3rd inning that we found out one middle aged couple next to us had been divorced for a decade, but still shared a love of the Giants – and their seats.
As the sun set and the game started, the famous San Francisco chill began to move in. As my new wife began to shiver, those around us (who by this point had inquired and then congratulated us on our nuptials) shared their blankets with her. We talked baseball, the Giants, marriage, Detroit, more baseball, Buster Posey, Barry Bonds, Los Angeles, beer and baseball for nine innings with these awesome fans. I am always proud of how knowledgeable my hometown (Detroit) and adopted hometown (St. Louis) are about baseball, but I found these Giants boosters to be as smart as any of them.
When we finally got up to leave, they wished us well as we walked along the right field fence and looked out into the chilling waters in the cove (a baseball had actually been hit in, by Chase Headley scoring the Padres only run). Poetically, we stopped in the gift shop to purchase stuffed animals. My wife and I both have nicknames for each other, and it just so happened that the Giants did too. Like Pablo Sandoval, I’m the panda. Like Brandon Belt, my wife is the giraffe.
I thought of that trip and the wonderful fans this year when the Giants won their third title in five years. What a lovely park. What a lovely time.
Dan’s scale (1-10): 9.3
Below are my stats. I’ll post them for every park I’ve visited. I include the big details, as well as who I visited with. Lastly, I am a huge fan of throwback jerseys, and for every stadium I visit, I buy one of a player from that organization I admired as a kid, from watching them or reading about them. So for every one, I will also list the throwbacks I’ve purchased for each.
Date: Friday, September 21, 2012, 7:20PM
Seat: 304, B, 9, 10
Ticket Cost: $34.00 each (purchased from StubHub)
Went with: Jen Weaver McKernan
Time of Game: 2:58
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Padres 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 0
Giants 0 0 0 1 1 3 0 0 X 5 11 0
Winning Pitcher: Ryan Vogelsong (13-9)
Losing Pitcher: Casey Kelly (2-2)
Jersey: Will Clark (1989); Willie Mays (1951)