I never considered my first 54 years of life as a Giants fan as being “sheltered” however I realized in April of 2012 that for all those years I had been cradled in the motherly lap of my San Francisco Giants home stadiums unaware that there was another side to baseball, an ugly unfriendly side one that I walked into naively enthusiastic emerging three days later frightened shocked and horrified at behavior so unfamiliar to me that I felt as though I would never recover.
I spent my entire lifetime in Northern California land of oceans, trees, friendly folks and ball teams that inspired in me an uncanny loyalty that literally shaped my personality. Naturally I was raised to be a SF Giants fan by my father instilled by him also and deeply embedded in my soul was the rivalry with the LA Dodgers.
I lived through years of loyalty that was unshakable starting slowly when I was just one year old, 1958 the NY Giants came to California and became MY SF Giants! Always a “tom boy” type of girl I eventually became the mother of three boys and coached my first little league team in 1980.
I had a fondness for all sports but my love for baseball was what prevailed. I lived through the exciting untouchable days of Montana and the SF 49ers but it is the SF Giants that I have had my longest relationship with. Outlasting all three of my marriages.
Because I was raised to be a Giants fan I just never thought of it as a choice. Sure I went to some A’s games, spring training’s but it was the Giants who were and always will be my baseball team.
So many different players, so many baseball greats, so many close calls, so many losses but it never crossed my mind to feel anything but “hey this is my team, for better or for worse”. Funny that didn’t apply to many other things in my life but it increased my already stubborn nature eventually turning me into the “never say never” always “believe” because “anything can happen” person I am today. After 54 yrs. it finally paid off, there it was the trophy, we were The World Champions! I am the fan that waited their entire life to win that 2010 World Series so I naturally take much of the credit for it.
My first Giants Spring Training was in 1986 and if you didn’t live through it you just can’t understand how different things were then.
In Arizona for a visit with my in-laws I found my self very pregnant being ushered around Giants Spring Training camp by Vida Blue recently back from his “away time” and enthusiastic about throwing again for his team.
We had somehow become friends over the years and he was busy positioning me right beside him as he threw pitches so that I could take pictures. Vida played his final game in October of this same year 1986.
Eventually I got bored as there was another annoying pitcher who kept getting in my shots. Never a big fan of Ately Hammaker I’m fairly certain my annoyance with him began that day as he refused to stay out of my camera range.
Atempting to photograph Vida as well as starting pitcher that year Mike Krukow and being blocked by Hammaker was messing hard with me.
The stadium was simply wide open with no fences or boundaries to separate the players from their visiting fans.
I was fortunate to be escorted by Vida so at least to me nothing was off limits. I began to wander around the stadium.
That was Willie Mays day and magically he appeared before me in full uniform although his playing days were already behind him. He kindly stopped and chatted with me asking me if I would like his signature. I believe he even provided that paper as I was not prepared. That day was also Gary Radnich’s first spring training and the story of his “first private interview” with Willie is detailed in a previous post.
There were some players over the years that avoided fans however I never went out of my way for an autograph not even when Matt Williams offered me his after he almost ran over my foot leaving Candlestick’s parking lot after a game as I was walking to my car. He was one that avoided fans seeking his attention, which was fine with me just don’t break my foot trying to escape, sir.
Timmy and Matty’s first fanfest where five or six people stood in line for their first Q&A. I remember Matt Cain working a baseball camp with my youngest son who then presented me with a ball Matt had signed for him. That ball is now signed by Tim and Sergio Romo but not Brian Wilson because we won that trophy and things started to change, now my ball team had become celebrities. Let the madness begin! The fan base doubled over night with younger folk most adoring girls holding up “Buster Prom?” signs with visions of date night dancing in their heads.
But they loved my team and that was a good thing. The enthusiasm I had always felt had now spread and it was exciting and positive so even though it became impossible to go to the ladies room without missing most of the game it was still very enjoyable to be at the park and I never missed an opening day.
Oh the parade and the celebrations were everything I had been working for 🙂 and I was there to welcome them back at the Home Opener. Watching them walk onto that field as WS Champions in was something I will never forget.
Hanging Timmy’s 10th K that day and sitting front row behind the plate in the Montana’s seats shortly after on mother’s day. Then my life as a Giants fan seemed as though it had come to an end. I was now going to fulfill my promise to my parents and move to Yuma AZ to assist in caring for my mother who suffers from Parkinson’s. July 1st I was in the desert of all deserts suffering through the most intense “dry heat” that had me drenched in a not so “dry” sweat that hasn’t subsided in two years.
But wait, what’s this? Chase Field a mere 3 hours away and the Giants were visiting on September 24, 2011 my daddy and I sat front row seats to witness the thrashing of a lifetime!
“A night after winning the West, the D-backs continued their drive for NLDS home field, pounding out six first-inning runs to end the World Series champs’ faint playoff chances — but not before the Chase Field lights went out for a bit.”
I didn’t notice much of much that night except the fact that a team that was defiantly not expected to win had their way with my boys as if they were rag dolls. Never having left a Giants game early I was only too happy to exit when dad said he was ready and as I passed through the gate the lights went out in Chase Field. My friends back home still wonder how I managed to make that happen.
Back in Yuma I sat helplessly, partially blinded by my own sweat running into my eyes, as my team fell to the home team of a state that I did not consider home at all. After it was over for my team I felt that when I left the bay area I took with me the magic my team had held and the feeling of separation became depressing. I escaped to San Diego in October to a blues festival that featured my favorite bay area band of many years the Tommy Castro Band. That was a good day but it didn’t last and homesickness set back in.
Then a miracle, I got notice from the Tommy Castro Band that they would be playing in Phoenix in February and on my 55th birthday! More good news was that Randy McDonald dear friend and bass player was returning to the band. As a guest of the band I danced all night and woke up the next morning feeling a year younger! Found a hotel and slowly it dawned on me that I wasn’t in Phoenix, I was in Scottsdale! Blocks away from Scottsdale Stadium and my heart of hearts my baseball team. Naturally I spent the next day chatting it up with Will Clark, Brandon Belt and was once again surrounded by Giants fans!
The Lord wasn’t done yet, he arranged for me to attend Opening Day 2012 even though I was far from home! What were that chances?! The SF Giants would be at Chase Field for Opening Day- a 3 game series vs the D-Backs! My prayers had been answered -I got tickets for all three games, booked a hotel within walking distance of Chase and ventured off by my severely direction-ally impaired self for what could only be a great adventure.
I followed some other Giants fans from the hotel to the stadium but once inside they went their way and I found myself in enemy territory alone. I tried to ignore the unfiendly nature of the AZ fans as I made my way to my seat and to my surprise there were no friendly orange & black smiling faces around me. Ok, well I was close to the Giants dugout and it was opening day it would be great!
I sat politely as the Diamond Backs lined up on the field and were announced backed up by their cheering fans. I didn’t cheer or clap but I was acting politely appropriate with friendliness on my face & in my demeanor.
Then my San Francisco Giants were announced as they filed on to the field and the ugliness was unleashed! One by one their names were announced only to be drowned out by the booing echoing through the cavernous dome. I was stunned, I had never imagined this! My team being booed as they were announced on the Opening Day of Baseball Season! I didn’t recognize it as appropriate behavior and I still don’t but after time I came to realize that I was experiencing an “away” game to it’s full extent for the very first time in my life. I didn’t know it would be like that and it really rocked my world! It was behavior I would have expected no where except Dodger Stadium. These people hated my team! It wasn’t long before I realized that they hated me also and I took it very personally. In my stupid little narrow mind I couldn’t believe they were being so mean to a group of guys that were very special people. How horrible the players must feel having their opening day moment overshadowed by disdain and hateful chants. Poor babies.
I continued to try to be polite and friendly after all it was their home opener not ours and would never dream of booing any of their players, I didn’t clap when they beat us by one run, but I didn’t boo either. Timmy vs Kennedy we had 11 hits but still were beaten 4-5
After the game I realized I was totally lost without a clue as to where the entrance was I had entered through. The exit that would take me back to the street just blocks from my hotel. I asked anybody and everybody for help and was directed to an exit that was no where near the one familiar landmark. I had a cracked ankle & after many misdirection’s was more confused and lost than ever. I hadn’t had a thing to drink or eat and finally realizing nobody was going to help me I just sat down to rest & collect myself. Well, obviously if you have been to a ball game & needed to sit down you were assumed to be intoxicated & was almost arrested. Forced to get up on my aching ankle & leave the area I didn’t want to be in anyway, I approached a security guard , asking him please if he could just tell me how to get to the street my hotel was on, explaining to him I had no idea where I was in relation to my hotel. He just walked away into the stadium, then the tears came full force & he finally understood I was not some drunk Giants fan and took me to a quiet spot giving me a map and directions back to my hotel. This was hours after the game ended it was like you hear about but don’t believe, nobody would help a stranger!
Back at my hotel I was safe at last devastated, in pain & wondering how I was going to manage to trek that huge stadium through 2 more games. At least the next games my seats where prime & I could ordered off a menu & be served sparing me from dehydration and rude comments from those I passed by.
Obviously I couldn’t walk on my ankle and found a pedicab the next day to take me to and from the Field but once inside I was forced to walk for what seemed miles to get to my seat. Again, the booing, and swearing at my boys! Again we lost by one run. This time it was young Madison that was shelled. Another 4-5
Game three Affeldt vs Miley
More name calling, booing and general unplesantness.
Sweep! Giants fall 6-7
Well I couldn’t bear to stay the night and exhausted in pain I packed up & headed home trusting the GPS because it was getting dark. Well three hours later I stopped for gas & that is when I realized I was in Flagstaff! I had driven three hours in the wrong direction! So about 6 hours later I found my way home in the wee hours of the morning vowing NEVER EVER EVER to go back to Chase Field again!
But I did, and we won, and I didn’t get lost!
I had a great seat surrounded by some very special SF Giants fans! June 9, 2013 Giants 6 D-Backs 2
Now we are pretty beaten up
But we love”climbing those mountains”
AND NOW FOR THE “LIGHTER SIDE” Finally to be continued unfortunately?