The Greatest Ticket I Never Used…

I’ve been blessed to be able to go to San Francisco Giants games since I was just a year or two old. However, today as I type this, the greatest ticket I have ever purchased is one that, from the bottom of my heart, thankfully I didn’t have to use.

When the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958, my family instantly became fans. My grandparents have attended games for nearly every season since that year up until a few years ago when the task of getting there became more strenuous than their physical beings could handle. They passed along a legacy to my uncles and my dad that many San Francisco Giants fans, and fans of sports in general, can appreciate. However, the depth of passion for San Francisco Giants baseball in my family is deeper than I could ever explain fully.

To this day, it’s up for debate as to what my first words were. I’m sure my Mom would still say I said Toyota first but I’m sure others would contest it was “Go Gi Gi’s!”

In fact, my earliest memory as a child and one of the most vivid in my mind to this day is when I was about 2-3 years old, at my grandparents house. I was playing “baseball” with my dad and uncle, using a wrapping paper tube as a bat and a balloon as the ball (presumably because Grandma said I couldn’t play with the real ball in the house). I was mesmerized by the way the balloon spun towards me when my dad would hit the bottom of it near the tied knot and it would spin quickly towards me. How I remember it, I don’t know but I remember I was wearing a Giants uniform.

Although we never had season tickets, or even made it to more than a handful of games in a single season, the games my family made it to were luckily, some of the most important in Giants history. My Grandparents, Dad and uncles were at the infamous game that Juan Marichal hit John Roseboro with his baseball bat in 1965. Throughout the 1980s we could be seen at Candlestick regularly, I was probably eating a hot dog covered in Gulden’s Spicy Brown mustard in one hand, with my glove on the left hand, waiting for that foul ball that never quite made it into the upper decks of Candlestick. My Grandma sitting by my side would be wearing possibly the greatest single piece of fashion history ever created, the “I Hate the Dodgers” visor. We’d all have on t-shirts, proudly proclaiming that were there, at some point along the way, cheering for the team win or lose.

My Dad was at Candlestick Park in 1989 for the NLCS Series against the Cubs and although I lived in Oregon at the time, the 1989 World Series was one of the most memorable moments in my life. My Grandparents were at the park waiting for the game to begin when the 1989 earthquake hit, and without a way to contact them it made for some heart-wrenching time as we waited and watched in horror as the events of that night unfolded. Thankfully, my grandparents made it home with nothing more than some raised adrenaline levels and memories of the fires they drove past on the way. My Grandma still has the bolts to the seats in Section 53 that shook loose from the earthquake.

The Greatest Ticket I Never Used

A couple years later while living in Oregon, I was blessed to have former Major League All-Star pitcher and former Giant Bob Knepper as my little league coach. I became friends with his son Jacob and spent time with Kneppers during those years but one thing will forever be cemented in that era for me. While visiting with the Kneppers one day, they got a call and it immediately went from lighthearted fun to a solemn silence that was deafening. On the line was Dave Dravecky and his wife Jan, they had called to let Bob and the family know that Dave had decided that amputating his arm was the only option left in beating the cancer that had taken him out of the game months before. We prayed together on the phone, and although I haven’t stayed in touch with the Kneppers over the years, I will never forget them and will forever be grateful to them for their love and encouragement. Putting the final emphasis on this stage of my life, I was able to make it to Candlestick Park with my family in 1991 for “Dave Dravecky Day,” the tribute to the retired pitcher. It was the first time I remember crying at the ballpark but it surely wouldn’t be the last.

The stories go on and on. Mother’s Cookies trading Cards…”My Pal” Chili Davis’ autograph…Spring Training in 1993 where I got Will Clark’s autograph along with Bob Uecker. Yes, that Bob Uecker. If you went to high school with me, you probably remember nacho cheese on my Nikes. I refused to clean it off from Spring Training where I nearly caught a foul ball…just two people away but it was worth sacrificing the nachos, and the shoes.

In 1999, we all made it out for the last series against the hated Dodgers at Candlestick Park, when the Giants ceremoniously defeated the Dodgers. That day, home plate from Candlestick Park was dug out of the ground and flown over and placed in its new home at Pacific Bell Park. In 2002, well actually we won’t talk about that quite yet.

In 2007 on August 7th, three days after my birthday, I was there at AT&T Park when Barry Bonds hit the record breaking number 756 with tears running down my cheeks once again.

Along the way, and along with all the stories I am leaving out, I’ve picked up countless pieces of San Francisco Giants memorabilia. Baseball cards of Kruk and Kuip, hats from the past, “I Was There” t-shirts from past memorable events, and even the rally rags from going to the early home games with some of the best friends a person could ever have in this post season will be forever cherished.

However, as I sit here typing this with tears in my eyes, the tickets I had to Game 6 of the 2010 World Series have instantly become the greatest treasure in my collection.

A symbol of accomplishment for a team, for The City, and for a region that has cheered for multiple generations through the hard times of seeing our legends fade from glory, and through the excitement of young players becoming stars and developing into our next hope.

The joy in knowing that my grandparents, fans for all of the 52 years that the Giants have been in San Francisco, got to see them finally get over that last hurdle. The joy in knowing that my Dad, like me, has cheered his entire lifetime for these Giants to get over that same hurdle and bring a World Series title home got to see them finally emerge victoriously.

These tickets will carry that love and passion.  The passion that I was so privileged to learn from my parents and grandparents that win or lose, we are forever San Francisco Giants fans. And someday these tickets to a game that never happened will be passed on to the next generation to show that even if it never happens again, that in this moment history chose us to be the World Champions.

My Unspoken Cheers for the San Francisco Giants

I haven’t posted much lately. My excuse…I lost my voice and I still haven’t found it.

Seriously though, I was lucky enough to go to both home games against the Braves. After screaming with excitement after every strikeout by Tim Lincecum in Game 1, there wasn’t much left in the vocal cord capabilities to get me through Game 2 but I made it through thanks to a late Thursday that consisted of Yogi Tea and some late night post writing for the Eastbay Blog.

Tonight, I’m playing a little catch up, still riding the emotional high of the San Francisco Giants winning the NLDS! Woohoo!

While I wish I could go on and on about the Giants in every post I put on Eastbay about how incredible this season has been for the team, and for me as a fan of pitching, I have to hold back. Tonight I decided to pay a little tribute to Bobby Cox with a post about entitled the Greatest Manager You Never Had, because as much as I tried to hate Bobby Cox through the early 90s, he represents everything I ever wanted in a manager, be it in sports or in a job. I admire his dedication to his players and to the betterment of the game, and hopefully someday will mean as much to others as he meant to his players.

What I can’t help thinking about after tonight’s game, is how proud I am to be a Giants fan tonight. Yes, they made it to the NLCS, but this is more than that. It’s about the class act that this team really is. Amongst the celebration of what has to be the pinnacle of many of the players’ careers, they stop and give Bobby Cox a tip of the cap and round of applause.

Giants tip their caps and applaud Bobby Cox.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

THAT is what will forever make the San Francisco Giants and the game of baseball so great. Of course if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you already know that the class act is a regular thing for the Giants and they are constantly grateful to the game and to their fans, more so than almost any other team. First it was circling the track at AT&T Park high fiving fans to celebrate their entry into the 2010 MLB Playoffs and now taking time to honor a legendary manager in the midst of a victory celebration.

Of course, I also love the fact that in a matter of just a few days, as pointed out by Andrew Baggarly in Monday’s Postgame Notes from his Extra Baggs column, Tim Lincecum has unleashed a trifecta of F-bombs that made their way into mainstream media that remind us all how much fun this team is having.

I can’t say it as eloquently as Timmy seems to but we’re in the NLCS! F*ck Yeah!!!

Battle of the Bay 2010

I haven’t had much time to update this in recent weeks as most of my time is consumed with work. I did however get a chance to see the Giants game on TV last night for the first time this season and I am excited about the possibility to say the least. The Giants haven’t had the most challenging opponents in their first 7 games, but the Atlanta Braves are most definitely a top ranked team in the National League in my opinion. Going 6-1 to start the season while across The Bay rivals the Oakland A’s start out 6-2 (against their own tough division opponents mind you) definitely has me thinking about a “Battle of the Bay” type of World Series.

Granted it’s a little early in the season, but I can hope right?

I’m just excited Barry Zito is off to a solid start, not to mention Tim Lincecum is already looking like he is after a third consecutive Cy Young Award!

Go Giants!