In honor of today's 2008 Giants home opener (of course I'll be there), here's my list of MY favorite Giants moments - in no particular order:
1. Winning the 2002 NLCS:
Shari and I had spent our every last dime going to all of the home games during the NLDS and NLCS (we were lucky enough to get tickets to all the home games). I was fortunate to have a boss who understood my passion for the Giants and let me leave work whenever I needed to be at the park to enjoy the experience.
For the clinching game, we were in the Lower Box section along the 1st Base side behind the St Louis Cardinals' dugout. We made a beautiful orange sign that said, "Bye Bye Cards, Ha-Lo Angels" which was enough to get us on the jumbotron! It was a tight game and in the ninth inning, everyone was on their feet and I could hardly see what was going on. I had to judge what was happening by crowd reaction. When we finally won, I remember us jumping up and down hugging strangers, fellow Giants fans, who were around us. At that moment in time, we were all one big family!
Although it was a work night, we stayed till the bitter end. We moved down to the area behind the Giants dugout for the celebration. The streets of San Francisco were jumping and it was pure elation.
2. Game 4 of the 2002 NLDS:
We were down vs the Atlanta Braves, 2 games to 1. It was a 5-game series so this was a must win situation. It was a Sunday night and it was Livan Hernandez vs Tom Glavine. Of course, we were at the park early - like when it opened. We were sitting along the Right Field Lower Box area, fairly close to the front. I remember when Livan and Righetti walked on to the field for warm ups, the entire crowd and gave him a standing ovation to let him know that we believed in him. It was like we knew we were destined to win. It was a chilling moment and of course, I shed a few tears. The offensive came through and we blew them away to force a Game 5 in Atlanta. As the crowd exited after the game, everyone was chanting, "Let's Go Giants." Russ Ortiz pitched Game 5. I watched it at home alone; I couldn't handle being around anyone else for it. Janice kept calling me and towards the end of the game, it was so intense that she couldn't even watch it and had to walk around her block.
3. The 2007 Opening Day Crowd Tribute to Barry:
There was so much controversy surrounding Barry. Jealous, money-grubbing, evil people were out to get him. When his name was called during the team introductions, the San Francisco crowd gave hime a 5-minute ovation that seemed like 10-minutes. He was our guy and we stood behind him 100%. I remember sitting in the bleachers, cheering, crying and being so happy to be there.
4. Barry's 600:
This guy I didn't know very well had 4 tickets to the game that August 2003 night vs the Pirates. Althought I hardly knew him, when he put the invtation out, of course I jumped on it. I asked if I could have Shari and Jeff use the other 2 tickets. It was so last minute that we were late getting to the park and he had to wait for us. But the wait was worth it because we were in the 2nd row behind the Giants dugout. There was the usual buzz in the park whenever Barry was on the brink of a milestone. As he came up to bat, we were horrified to realize that neither of us had brought a camera. And as our luck would have it, he hit it. We were thankful to have witnessed it but appalled when the old people in front of us offered to SELL their copies of photos to us. Whatever.
5. JT Snow's Hidden Ball Trick vs the Dodgers:
It was 1998 at Candlestick park and was one of my first Giants games. I really didn't know much about baseball, nor the Giants/Dodgers rivalry. I was mostly there for the experience. But JT did a hidden ball trick to get a Dodger out and I thought that was pretty cool. That was one of the things that made me start following baseball and loving JT. How smart is JT?!?
6. The Discovery of 2nd and King:
It was 2002, again, after a Giants/Dodgers game. Shari and I were walking back to our car in the China Basin parking garage when we passed the Visitors entrance at Third and King. We temporarily got caught up in the autograph hype and asked the security guard if the Dodgers happened to be signing that weekend (what the hell got into us?!?). Instead of telling us if they were or not, she told us to head to Second and King because that's where the Giants always sign. We looked at each other and took off RUNNING. And so began our years of stalking Giants players. I could write several more blogs on our Second and King encounters (Rich Aurilia, Ray Durham, Felipe Alou, JIM BROWER, my fight with Steve "the Idiot" Lyons) and we have hundreds of pictures to document it.
7. 2003 Home Series vs the Atlanta Braves:
We were sitting in our usual seats in Lower Box 129, Row 21, Seats 15-16. Bobby Bonds was gravely sick and dying. The Giants were still in the playoff race and Barry was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Sitting next to us was this dumbass, trash dad with his teenage daughter and his holy terror son who were huge Braves fans. The rotten kid kept throwing crap at people and he and his loser father kept taunting Giants fans. I couldn't take it; it took everything in me not to just pound them. In the bottom of the 9th it looked like the Braves were going to win and these carnival trash people just wouldn't let up. But, as most Giants fans know, when Barry is in the game, there is always hope. And of course, he walks up to the plate, faces Ray King and hits a walk off home run to win the game like he's done so many times in his career. You better believe that I let that trailer trash father and son know that Barry Bonds had just stolen their thunder. Ha!
8. July 4, 2000 in the Bleachers:
It was the first summer in the park and I don't remember who the Giants were playing. In fact, I don't remember much about the game, except that Shawn Estes hit a grand slam (this was back when I still liked him, before he turned into a such a head case), which was very exciting. But what was memorable was sitting in the bleachers with Shari (of course), Troy and Tara with our bleacher seats. I don't remember what we talked about, but I just remember having a grand time - talking, laughing and dancing to Janet Jackson's, "It All For You" and "Who Let the Dogs Out."
9. Meeting Sonny Corinthos:
Ok it was the 2002 playoffs again. What a magical season. In August, the players were threatening to strike. Shari and I were hoping they would because we didn't think the Giants would make the playoffs and we didn't want to see the Diamondbacks in the post season again. We made these CD's of the Giants' at-bat music, but started it off with Russ Hodges' call of the "Shot Heard Around the World." We'd walk around muttering, "The Giants Win the Pennant, The Giants Win the Pennant!" That's how crazy we were.
Well, we were also crazy about General Hospital. I had watched GH since I was 5 years old (thanks to my Grammy). A few weeks prior to the playoffs, I was reading a soap opera magazine that had a picture of Rich Aurilia at Dodger Stadium with Maurice Bernard, the actor who plays Sonny Corinthos. Maurice was there to visit his COUSIN - Marvin BENARD! How did we never make the connection before?!? Well after a playoff game, we were at 2nd and King, doing our thing (see #6) when Marvin Benard drives out in his blue F150 truck. In the passengers seat was "Sonny Corinthos." Shari and I looked at each other and had the same thought in mind - follow that truck! We raced to the corner of King St and watched the truck turn right and head down the Embarcardero. Well, we're good enough stalkers to figure out where the truck was headed to - the apartment building across the st where Rich Aurilia lived. We ran as fast as we could, then realized that Sonny was probably watching us run toward him so we stupidly ran past him so he wouldn't think we were chasing him. But of course, we back tracked, then walked up to this truck and asked, "Hey, aren't you on GH?" He was so nice and we had a very pleasant conversation with him, while inside we were just dying! Oh and it didn't end there. As we left and walked back to the China Basin Parking Garage, we were yelling at the top of our lungs, "Sonny Corinthos! I can't believe we met Sonny Corinthos!" Then we realized that parked in the garage was a blue F150 truck. Sonny stuck his head out and waved to us. Our first reaction was embarrassment but then we were like, "Who Cares! We just met Sonny Corinthos!" :)
10. 2003 On Field Photo Day:
My first onfield photo day was 1999 at Candlestick with Janice. Again, I was a new fan and had no idea what it was so I was ill-prepared. But in 2003, I was educated and this time, we were going to be the first ones there!
It was a Saturday afternoon game, so we got a room at the Grand Hyatt on the Friday night before. We woke up at 6 am and had breakfast at the hotel, then headed to the park by 7 am so we could be first in line. When we got there, the line was already long - WTF!?! We had to stand in line for like 4 hours in the blazing sun with no bathroom. But it was so worth it. When they opened the gates to let us in, we ran in from the right field gate and it was heaven! I remember running and leaping in the air and then kneeling down to try and pull out some grass to have as a momento. We secure our positioning right up to the rope and then was THRILLED when the players started coming out - Tim Worrell, Ray Durham, Jose Cruz Jr, Big Cat Andres Galarraga, Felipe Alou, Michael Tucker. JT didn't come out, but BARRY DID! OMG - I died. I actually shook his hand and the Giants photographer even got a picture of him when he passed by us. It was such a great moment.
There've been many other great experiences, but one thing I remember was being at a Sunday afternoon and thinking to myself, "Revel in this moment because it won't last forever" and it hasn't. As we head to this season's Opening Day, its a new era - Barry's gone, the team isn't very good, but at least we have our memories and we can only hope that Sabean either gets his act together or gets fired so someone can put together a winning team for us again.