The smell of garlic fries, juicy hot dogs, and crisp sea salt air only leads to one conclusion at this time of the year: the start of baseball season. Preferably, the beginning of San Francisco Giants baseball.
February 7th marked the 5th year the Villarreal family headed to Fan Fest, the ultimate Giants fan experience provided free of charge. Every year we’ve gone, the Giants ended up winning the World Series title, so we couldn’t end the streak.
We started our day at 6:15 a.m. and started waiting in a quarter-long mile line at 9:30. After waiting for 30 minutes, we finally made it into the stadium. Everywhere you looked there was a sea of black and orange, and no one dared to wear blue.
Our first stop was a tour of the locker room like we had in previous years (see picture below), but security told us they were renovating it before the season started. At this point, Manager Bruce Bochy was being escorted down the hallway. Rumor has it he has a large head, and the rumors are true. And he was really tall!
After this encounter, we headed out on the field to join the 30,000 attendees of the day. The layout was pretty cool: Food and drink vendors were giving away free stuff such as Peet’s Coffee, Invo coconut water (pretty good), Kind Bar which gave out Honey BBQ flavored granola bars (not good), and tons more. But the most anticipated part of the day was the opportunity to get your favorite players’ or coaches’ autograph ( My dad got Tito Fuentes to sign his hat).
Multiples line stretched across the field, wrapped around the stadium seats, and down the hallways. Last year, I waited in line for an hour and a half to get Gregor Blanco’s autograph, so it was nice to just walk around and enjoy the amenities.
I guess it was meant to be because I ended up stumbling across Madison Bumgarner, Sportsman of the Year named by Sports Illustrated, as he was being escorted down the field to be interviewed. He smiled ever so slightly and walked quietly through the crowd, but was very ominous and tall. I was that close to touching him, but didn’t want to get tackled by the police. So that was sorta a big deal!
At home plate, players were interviewed on stage about the upcoming season and what is expected of them as a team mate. Players were also interviewed in the club level at a more intimate stage for people to stop and watch.
Of course, all the old and new Giants memorabilia was on display in the Club Level of the stadium, exclusive to club ticket holders during the games. Everything behind glass ranged from Tim Lincecum’s 2014 no-hitter jersey to signed balls of the entire 2002 team. They were even selling Candlestick’s seat-backs for $75 (which much to my dad’s chagrin we did not buy).
It was another great start to baseball season that will only get better come April 13th. Best of luck to the players and coaches this year and Go Giants!