Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
AT&T PARK — The ballpark by the bay was awash with a sea of Orange and Black as the San Francisco Giants Fan Fest returned to China Basin Saturday.
The annual event gives Giants fans a chance to meet their favorite players, trot around the stadium, participate in games, and enter some of the ballpark’s more exclusive areas, such as the dugout and clubhouse.
Last year’s on-field results left much to be desired, but the support of Giants fans remained resolute as thousands queued up outside AT&T Park early in the morning.
Lines wrapped around the block at both the 2nd and 3rd Street entrances to the park, with many eager to get back into the friendly confines of their home stadium and meet the 2014 Giants squad.
Once inside the park, attendees could head for the field, tour the ballpark and its many concessions, or sit in on panel discussions with both players and Giants staff.
Most of the team was present for festivities. Notable absences included Pablo Sandoval, who continues his workout regiment Venezuela, Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and any sort of preseason controversy from Brandon Belt regarding the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Even long time fans such as Bob Kavanaugh, a first-time Fan Fest attendee and resident of San Jose who has been a fan of the team since they first came to San Francisco, were able to have new experiences:
“This is my first year … I had heard about it, I don’t know how many years they’ve had it but I’d never come, so I came from San Jose, just took the train and had a good time.”
With lines for autographs stretching from the outfield wall to the infield, Kavanaugh wasn’t able to get many autographs. He said just seeing the players up close was a personal highlight.
The vast lines for players might have been off-putting for some, though veteran attendees such as Diana Curl, 67, along with friend Susan Meyer, 45, preferred just to soak in the sun while sitting in their lower box seats:
“We love it … It’s just about enjoying the whole stadium in itself.”
Fans willing to wait were also able to tour the clubhouse, giving them a rare opportunity to visit where the team prepares before heading on the field.
Ralph Moriuchi, 54, from Tahoe City, was among those who were able to take the tour.
“It’s great. It’s a one time experience to where you can’t go. The only people who go there are press like you guys.”
A highlight of the afternoon came when manager Bruce Bochy, first baseman Brandon Belt, and LHP Javier Lopez in took part in a panel the Virgin America Club level.
The comedic session include Belt’s pledge to not “saying anything stupid” regarding the Dodgers, and Lopez’s desire to be the “flying Puerto Rican” in contrast to snowboarder Shaun White. Bochy also brought an ecstatic fan close to tears by inviting her up to the stage for a hug.
Fans willing to make the trip can look forward to seeing the Giants at Spring Training in Scottsdale, Ariz., beginning February 26.