A Visit To The Ball Park

Last night my daughter, my granddaughter and a close family friend went to see the San Francisco Giants play a night ball game…There has always been a certain mystique and aura of awe for me attending a night baseball game, maybe because the first game I ever went to was at night, maybe because of the sheer, magical transformation from the dark city streets outside to the brilliantly illuminated confines of the park itself…

San Francisco has a universally acknowledged architecturally perfect gem of a ballpark, with great sight lines of the San Francisco Bay Bridge and the bay itself, and the park itself is immaculate, both inside and out, with it’s brick outer facade, quirky laid out outfield designs and different wall heights and pristine green grass….The anticipation leading up to the game, the actual act of entering the park is always one of my favorite parts…

I am a sports nut anyway, and I watch every Giants game on TV so actually entering the shrine itself feels almost like a religious experience to me…There is always the eternal hassles about parking and last minute traffic jams to negotiate, but after you park, or better yet, take public transportation, after that you are on the street, jostling elbow to elbow with all the other happy, eager fans flocking towards the entrance gates….

The Giants ticket takers validate your game ticket and suddenly, you are IN! There are rows and rows of food booths to traverse, long before you get to your seats…You have to pass by booth after booth hawking all varieties of food, caramel popcorn, regular popcorn in giant bags, cotton candy, hot dogs, garlic french fries, cheeseburgers, Crazy Crab, churros, Ghiradelli Chocolate, different kinds of pizza and the always present beer stands, a doggie diner, Philadelphia cheese steaks, and these are just the ones that I saw!

They also have souvenir stands, actually mini Giants Dugout stores where you can purchase hats, jerseys, socks, shoelaces, tee shirts, foam fingers, Giants buttons, paste on fake eye black, and Giants pennants…These booths are all packed into the corridors leading to the actual field, which you can catch a glimpse of through the various doorways as you pass by all the booths towards the entrance to your seat section…..The dull roar of the crowd permeates the whole stadium the whole time you are walking to your seats, as the home team is taking the field!

In case you are unfamiliar with the layout of the park, there are plenty of helpful security personnel to guide you and point you in the right direction, and after a 20 minute walk from the main entrance at Willy Mays Plaza on King street to section 102 lower box, where our tickets said our seats were, we finally located our seats and settled in….We were down the right field line, but right in line with first base, so we could see every play clearly, plus we were only 6 rows up from the actual field, right in front of the visiting team’s bullpen….

The weather in San Francisco in the summer time is unlike any spring or summer weather anywhere else in the country…I grew up in Chicago and the baseball games at old Comiskey park, home of the south side White Sox, were always blazing hot in the daytime and still very warm and humid at night…

Not in San Francisco! Our blessed cooling fog always rolls in off of the bay the entire summer and most of the spring, and instead of tank tops and tee shirts and cutoffs and flip flops everybody in the crowd was wearing hoodies, jackets, scarves, gloves, beanies, pants, jeans, boots, sweaters, parkas and many were wrapped in blankets, preferably with the Giants logo on it…

The weather is more appropriate for a Midwestern football game than for the summer game of baseball, but all of us true San Francisco baseball fans have adapted to it and think nothing of it… It is our weather in our park and we have learned to adjust to it, grown used to it, even the howling winds that rip through the stadium to knock down high fly balls that would be home runs in any other park in the league…

In fairness, the day games at our beloved At&T Park are usually a balmy but not too hot mid 60 degrees most of the time, and the sun shines brightly so if you don’t tan, bring the sun screen! But the winds are still capricious, even in the day time, and our players have grown used to the unique conditions of the park…In some cases it is actually an advantage for them and a disadvantage for the visiting team…

But we went to a night game last night and once we settled into our seats and watched the game enfold, we bought some ball park hot dogs and french fries and I got a delicious Philadelphia cheese steak and we cheered and clapped and roared our approval for the home town Giants when they did something good and booed and heckled the other teams players, especially the relievers warming up just 6 rows in front of us….

In all fairness, the other teams bullpen relievers got a sincere and well deserved round of applause from us and the rest of the crowd for donating 2 baseballs to little kids, a boy and a girl, both around 7 or 8 years old who were begging for a souvenir baseball….It validated the whole “feel good” ball park experience in a really nice, warm way…

The final score? Oh the Giants lost 7-2 to the Florida Marlins, but there will be other games…. And for the rest of the year when we watch our beloved Giants on TV we will remember our seats, how it felt to be there, cheering on our home town heroes, the sight of the crisp 90 foot geometrically perfect laid out infield, the carefully manicured wide expanses of the beautiful green outfield and the sounds and cheers and happy good vibes, warmth and camaraderie of our fellow fans, all together as one….

If you get a chance, go to a baseball game this year; if you are a true fan you won’t regret it!

Just leave it like it is right now

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