San Francisco, CA
Review by Gary
I couldn’t have chosen a better day to see a baseball game in San Francisco. With a nice breeze, blue skies and 70 degree temperatures, catching a day game at what was then Pac Bell Park was the place to be if you are a baseball fan. I looked forward to seeing the 2002 National League Champion Giants and their slugger Barry Bonds as I kicked off a baseball road trip that would take me to Sacramento later that evening and on to Stockton, Fresno and Oakland in the days that followed.
Pac-Bell Park, renamed Oracle Park in 2019, is a wonderful stadium. Before the game, I drove out to Candlestick Park, the Giants’ and 49ers’ home since 1960, just to see that old gem and what the Giants had moved up from. “The Stick” was located south of downtown and on a windy point, and looked as if it’s best days were long behind it. The three-year old Pac-Bell Park is further north up Highway 101 and closer to downtown and the Oakland-Bay Bridge. A healthy walk from Pier 39 saves on the parking fee or cab fare to the game.
Pac Bell would not disappoint as the sell-out crowd of 42,000+ fans saw the home team plate five early runs and hold on for the victory over the Phillies. I especially enjoyed hearing the home crowd boo Philadelphia pitcher Brett Myer for intentional walking Bonds twice, much to my chagrin. After all, Bonds was the chasing the HR record and I felt that seeing a Bonds homer came with the above-average price of the ticket! The IBBs should have come to no one’s surprise as Bonds was walked on purpose 20 more times than he homered that year.
Festooned around the exterior of the ballpark are five statues that pay tribute to famous San Francisco Giants players of the past. Greeting fans in front of the ballpark entrance is the statue of Willie Mays. The area is known as 24 Willie Mays Plaza and is surrounded with 24 palm trees, in honor of the Say Hey Kid and his uniform number. One of my favorite features of the stadium is how close the right field wall is to McCovey Cove, named for the Giant slugger of the 1960’s and 1970’s. An inlet of San Francisco Bay, kayakers and other floating travelers lurk in hopes of catching water-bound home run balls. Land lubbers who have a game ticket can stand atop the 24’ wall in right waiting for a souvenir to fall from the sky as home runs only have to travel 309’ to hit pay dirt.
Two eye-catching features beyond left field are the gargantuan Coca-Cola bottle and monstrous 4-finger baseball mitt next to it. The 80’ Coke bottle houses a playground slides that lights up with every Giants home run. These unique features are something to see and are certainly prominent from almost every seat in the stadium. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to AT&T Park. My upper deck seat along the first base line provided breathtaking views of the bay beyond the outfield walls as well as the play on the field.