20 Stadiums in 20 Days – Pacific Bell Park
In June of 2000, we had planned to take another organized baseball tour, much like the one we took in 1997. But not with the same tour operator! So we put a deposit down on a West Coast tour with Broach Tours. The tour was scheduled to hit all the West Coast ballparks, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately, a month or so before the trip, we received a call telling us that the tour was being cancelled due to a lack of interest. Aargh!! (we did at least get our deposit back)
So since we’d already planned on that vacation time with our respective workplaces, we decided to just take a trip to San Francisco, and see the Giants and the A’s on our own.
2000 was the first year of the brand-new Pacific Bell Park. So as much as my husband sometimes dislikes ordering tickets in advance, we realized we would have to if we wanted to get into any games at Pac Bell. Of course, there were no single-game tickets to be had. But then we noticed that the Giants had a feature on their website that allowed their season-ticket holders to resell any tickets they weren’t going to be able to use. Perfect! So we searched available tickets to find ones that weren’t being offered for an arm and a leg (just a forearm ), and sat through the interminable wait while our dial-up internet service submitted the information, then submitted our credit card info and mailing address, only to be told at the end of the whole process that, due to the laws in certain states, Pennsylvania being one of them, that we couldn’t buy the tickets.
Outrage! Shouldn’t they have stated this rule up front?
Then I had the bright idea to try and have the tickets sent to my husband’s brother in New Jersey. Maybe they didn’t have that law! Apparently the Giants’ system was not set up to realize that the billing and mailing addresses were different, and it went ahead and processed the transaction. Yay! Then my husband made sure to warn his brother that he would be getting something in the mail from the Giants, but not to throw it away, because it would be our tickets.
The first of the two games we attended was on July 16, an interleague contest against the Texas Rangers. The weather this day was cool but comfortable, and a bit overcast. Most mornings we woke to thick fog, which would eventually burn off, though this day it kind of lingered.
Our seats were down the right-field line, about 15 rows back from the field. Not too bad! This was our view [Sorry Rays Renegade! I don't know what it is about these giant Coke bottles everywhere!]:
In the foreground is Texas starter Esteban Loaiza, warming up prior to the game. Shawn Estes would be on the mound for the Giants.
Midway through the game, a foul ball came down the line, aimed directly at my husband. According to him, he would have caught it except for some knucklehead who stuck their hand in front of him. Yes, that knucklehead was me. If it’s any consolation, my pinky hurt for the rest of the game. The ball, by the way, deflected off my pinky and ended up a few rows in front of us.
J.T. Snow and Rich Aurilia each hit home runs for the Giants this day. The Giants won, 6-4, with the win going to Estes and the loss to Loaiza. San Francisco closer Robb Nen got the save, coming in to pitch not the ninth inning, but the:
Four days later, on July 20, we were back for our second game. This time our seats were a little further back from the field, but closer to home plate (still on the first base side). The San Diego Padres were the visitors today. This was a much sunnier day. A statue of Willie Mays stands outside the main entrance gate:
Kirk Rueter was the starter for the Giants, and Woody Williams for the Padres. Rueter’s nickname is “Woody”, because he resembles the character Woody (the cowboy doll voiced by Tom Hanks) from the Toy Story movies. So this game was a Battle of the Woodies.
My husband got another chance at a foul ball, off the bat of Rich Aurilia. This time I wisely kept my hands to myself, and he made a barehanded catch of the ball while it was on the fly. The elderly women seated in front of us thanked him for saving them from injury – they were ready to duck and cover had he not caught it. Here is a picture of Aurilia:
Woody Williams hit his first career home run in this game. He would end up with a ******** total of 4 in his 15 year career.
[OK, that word is supposed to be wh-pping, with an 'o' in the middle. Since when is this considered a bad word???]
Of course, you-know-who was playing for the Giants back in 2000:
Barry Bonds. This was when he was merely annoying, and not yet the pariah he is now. Odd, he looks like he’s actually smiling and interacting with the fans.
Jeff Kent and Russ Davis would homer for the Giants, to help lead the SF “Woody” to victory. Rueter got the win and Aaron Fultz the save in a 7-3 Giants victory; Williams took the loss for the Padres.
Pacific Bell Park is no longer called Pacific Bell. In less than 10 years of existence, it is on its third name. It is now AT&T Park, after going by SBC Park in the interim. This is why I hate corporate naming! Frequent name changes, and the name has no real tie to the team or its location. AT&T Park could be located anywhere! Aargh!
Nonetheless, it is one of our favorite ballparks that we have been to so far. The location is amazing, with great views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay beyond the outfield. And there were these really yummy garlic fries at the concession stand! Definitely a ballpark I would go back to!
Fun non-baseball things to do in San Francisco and vicinity: Ride the cable cars. Go to Napa for a day and get a buzz off the free wine tastings. Drive up the coast to Muir Woods and marvel at how tall the redwood trees are. Visit Alcatraz. Go to Ghirardelli Square and eat so much chocolate before lunch that you decide the chocolate is your lunch! (yes, we did do all this)
In my next entry, we venture across the bay to Oakland, and visit Network Associates Coliseum.
(all photos mine)