I had a fantastic time at the KNBR Giants FanFest once again this year. The best part was that this year I attended with my buddy, Ginny. My goal was to avoid any sort of line longer than about ½ hour. Last year, I waited in one autograph line for almost 4 hours and I was determined not to waste my time again (even though the outcome was that I got Angel Pagan’s and Jeremy Affeldt’s signatures and I met two wonderful ladies in line with me, Leslie and Morganlee). Even though the event lasts 5 hours, there is so much to do that the time can slip away from you.
We got to the park at about 6:30 am (that meant that I got up at 4 – my boys are worth it!). I picked Ginny up on the way. We were all set to wait in the line to get in (I know – I said no lines – but this was the only one). Ginny brought chairs and blankets to keep us comfortable and help us brave the cold weather. We got all settled and were standing a few yards in front of the Dugout Store – not bad. This was much closer than where I was last year. Then the line started to move, so we moved up a few feet. Then we did this again. Then it moved all the way in front of the park! Instead of a line, it was just a huge mass of people standing in front of the main gate on King Street. I figured we might have to resort to plan B. Our original plan was to ditch the chairs and blankets about an hour before the park opened, but I was afraid if I tried to do that now I might lose my place in line. So I gathered up the stuff right there and then and carted it off to the car. Guess everyone else had the same idea because there was a mass exodus of chairs to the parking lot (parking was free by the way – miracle). I was able to get back to my spot in line, and then we waited. The time flew by as we talked about the Giants together and with a nice family of four from Brentwood (who were all sick – hope I don’t get it cause we were packed in pretty tightly).
I need to dedicate a paragraph to my girl Ginny’s attire. This lady is a die-hard Brandon Crawford fan. She was wearing her home-made hat that says “Go Giants!” on it, embellished with a picture of her and Brandon Crawford (she went with me and my sister to take pictures with him a while back). She also had her nails specially done for the occasion. Each nail was tipped in orange with black polka dots, except for her ring finger nail which was tipped in black with orange polka dots, and the number 35 was written on her nail in black. Love her spirit!
Even though the wait was 3 ½ hours, the time really flew by, and then it was 10. They actually didn’t let us in until about 10:10. I was afraid people were going to start cramming to get in, but luckily that didn’t happen. Giants fans are just awesome like that. Once they opened the gates, they did a brief bag search and we all moved in. Ginny and I headed straight for the escalator. Again, we had a plan – run upstairs, get some quick autographs, and then walk around and enjoy the rest of the day. We got to the View Level and ran to the far end where Brandon Belt and Roberto Kelly (the first base coach) were signing autographs. The line only took about ½ hour. I got up to Brandon, said hi, and told him that I enjoyed reading his blog. He thanked me and then gave me his autograph. The boy is so tall and such a cutie. The really cool thing about him was that he posed in a picture with me. They aren’t supposed to do that because it takes too much time, but he was doing it with everyone. At one point, he even came out of the stand and took a picture with a woman in a wheelchair. Someone raised that boy right! The nice lady behind me snapped a pic of Brandon and me together, and then Ginny got pics of Brandon and Roberto signing their autographs. I had them sign the journal that I took on my baseball roadtrip with my siblings last April. Roberto didn’t have much to say. I asked him if he had recovered from his injury at the end of last season and he said he was fine. I took his pic, and he didn’t even smile. Not one of my fave Giants experiences.
After that, due to the fact that I wasn’t about to wait in another autograph line, knowing that by now they would be at least 2 hours long, we walked around to take pics of guys signing autographs. The nice thing is you can get really close to them. Luckily for Ginny, the next booth we went to had her boy, Brandon Crawford, along with Barry Zito and cutie pie George Kontos. Ginny thought Brandon looked like hell – his hair was really long and greasy looking and he looked really tired. Wonder what was up. Maybe the baby is keeping him from getting enough sleep! We commenced with the picture taking and waving, trying to get their attention, and then this security lady started barking at everyone, saying, “There will always be someone in the way! Just take your picture and move back! You’re not going to get a perfect shot! 1-2-3 Click!” So annoying! Of course, we ignored her and took a ton of pics. Barry even waved at a group of us.
We moved on to the final autograph station on the View Level. Javier Lopez, Tim Flannery (3rd base coach with the beautiful voice), and Brett Pill (Ginny’s mom’s boy) were signing there. Just as we arrived, we noticed they were getting ready to leave. They switch guys out every half hour or so. We were bummed at first, but then we realized that their path downstairs went right by us! They all walked within two feet of me! I yelled and waved at Tim and he said “Hey!” back and smiled. Javier was wearing his Puerto Rico shirt – all the guys playing in the World Baseball Classic were wearing the shirt of their country.
Next on our agenda was to hit the KNBR broadcast (taking place from home plate) because Brandon Crawford (Ginny’s boy) was scheduled to appear between 11 and 12. So we headed down to the Field level, bought hot dogs and pretzels on the way (missed my baseball hotdogs so!), and settled into seats right in front of the stage. First we were treated to the Sergio Romo and Buster Posey interviews. It was so nice to see their faces again and listen to them talk about this season. Next came Brandon Crawford and George Kontos together. We watched their interview, finished out lunch, and we were on the move again. Next stop was the Clubhouse self-guided tour. I really wanted to do this since I missed it last year and it’s the only time you can go into the Giants’ clubhouse during the season (if you take the tour during the season, you go through the visitor’s clubhouse). We walked over there (you actually have to go out of the park to get to the entrance), but alas there was a line that stretched down the street to get in. Keeping to our pact of no lines, we skipped it and went back inside to see what other adventures lay ahead.
We went back upstairs to see if we could get more pics of guys signing autographs. First stop – Sergio Romo and Hensley “Bam-Bam” Meulens (batting coach). Got some pics of Hensley, but there were too many folks in front of Sergio to get a good shot. This was also the stand where the mean security lady was stationed (she was still there!), and we were tired of listening to her yell. I did manage to snap a great picture of her, though, attitude and all. You can tell in the pic that she was ticked off. Ha ha! Next we went back to the stand where I had gotten Brandon Belt’s autograph. My boy Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Flannery were signing there. The security guard at that stand was awesome, and actually told us we could move up to take pics there. We both got some great shots. Love my Ryan! I had brought a copy of the pic I had taken with Ryan Vogelsong and Bill Laskey (mentioned this meeting in a previous blog) in hopes that I might get their autographs on it. I realized that there was no way I was getting anywhere near Ryan that day since I wasn’t already in that line. So I just enjoyed being that close to him for a while. Then a miracle happened – guess who came out of the door about 10 feet away from us? BILL LASKEY! I didn’t even know he was going to be there that day! I told Ginny who it was and quickly fumbled to get the pic out of my backpack. She grabbed him and said her friend wanted to talk to him. I showed him the pic and asked if he could sign it. He laughed and said “Sure!” and asked for a pen. BILL LASKEY TOUCHED MY PEN! LOL! He said he remembered hearing about that pic on Twitter, which was interesting because I wasn’t on Twitter at the time. I think he might have gotten that confused with the time I called him on KNBR and talked about it. He was very gracious and friendly with both of us, and then he rushed off to get somewhere. In my excitement, I forgot to take a pic of him, but Ginny caught his back as he left. Talk about luck! What were the odds that I would actually run into him that day? Now I just have to get Ryan to sign that pic!
After Ryan and Tim left that stand, Dan Otero (relief pitcher) and Dave Righetti (pitching coach) came in, so we got a couple of shots of them. Never realized before but Dan Otero is gorgeous! Then we headed back down to the field to watch the KNBR broadcast of Ryan Vogelsong’s interview (the day was planned around where Brandon Crawford and Ryan Vogelsong were, if you hadn’t figured that out already!). We got there in the middle of it, and then Pablo was next. He was sick but he still managed to make it there. What a guy – he really loves his fans.
Our last stop of the day was the Q&A session on the Club Level. We lucked out that they were having Brandon Crawford and Ryan Vogelsong plus Sergio Romo in one session. We decided to get there about ½ hour early because we had noticed lines to get into the club level earlier. We found out that they could only let a certain number of people in due to fire codes (the fire marshal was actually on site that day). So as people came out they would let the same number of people in. While we waited, we chatted with the nice security guy stationed there. I asked him if he ever got to watch the games during the season, and he said because of where he worked, he didn’t. What a bummer – to be so close and yet so far! We only had to wait about 15 minutes, and then we were let in. Lucky for us we got to catch the tail end of the previous session where they were interviewing Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, and Hunter Pence! We were about 30 feet away from them! It was tough to take pics over people’s heads, but we did get a few good shots. I have to say I do like Timmy’s new do – he looks so much more professional. And he wasn’t wearing the silly, non-prescription glasses during this session. They were being interviewed by Eric Byrnes, former A’s outfielder and all around hyper active guy who sometimes appears on KNBR during the season. Folks in the crowd actually got to ask the guys questions. I have to say this was my favorite part of the day because you got to get up close and personal with the guys and it was so relaxed.
After those guys left, the crowd thinned out so that Ginny and I could get much closer. We were at the fourth row of chairs – Ginny actually got a seat and I stood next to her. We were so close! At first, they interviewed three of the medical staff on the team and they also took questions (the sessions were sponsored by Dignity Health). It was actually more interesting than I thought it would be. And one of the guys was Anthony Reyes, the assistant trainer who has actually made it into my spit counts several times! Then my boys came in – Sergio and Ryan. Sergio was passing out cards that he had presigned – what an awesome guy! They were interviewed by Kate Scott, morning host of KNBR. The guys had so much fun with the interview. They talked about last season and about the World Baseball Classic coming up. They were asked how they would handle having to pitch to Pablo Sandoval. Ryan said that since Pablo had said he was going to hit a homer off of him, he would just hit him with a pitch. He said that he was such a big target, it would be easy! Then Sergio said he would just give him a fastball straight down the middle since he only swings at crazy pitches. Sergio also talked about striking Miguel Cabrera out during the World Series and Ryan talked about his dream-like season. At times I think Ryan was actually looking at me while he was answering questions! So cool! I love both those guys, and this session just made me love them more. They’re so down to earth and appreciate their fans.
So where was Brandon Crawford? He was the main reason Ginny was there. We kept waiting for him to show up, but he never came. After the session, we went up and spoke with Kate Scott. I am a big fan of hers and Ginny took our picture. Ginny asked her about Brandon, and she said that something must have come up and he was needed elsewhere and it wasn’t his fault. That was disappointing. But it was great talking to Kate and she was so gracious and friendly.
Thus our day ended. There were several things we didn’t get to do (like actually get down on the field – Ginny had never done that), but they’ll be at the top of the list for next year. What a fantastic day! So great to see my boys again and get excited about the season. Ginny says she will definitely go again next year and I’ve convinced my sister to also come next year since we limited the line-waiting time.
I asked several Giants fans if they were going to FanFest before the event and the usual response was, “No. Too many lines and too many people.” If you can’t handle lots of people, I would suggest you don’t go. But the lines are avoidable if you don’t care about autographs. Here are Carm’s top six tips for enjoying the FanFest Experience:
1) Have a plan. KNBR posts the schedule for their broadcast and the Q&A sessions ahead of time. If there are certain players you want to see, plan the day around those times.
2) Get there early. I heard that people who got there after 9 had to wait 2 hours just to get into the park itself. You want to have as much time as possible inside the park.
3) Run to the View Level first thing to get autographs and then give up. That first line will be about ½ hour and subsequent lines will be at least 2 hours. Don’t waste your time. And don’t get in a line based on who is signing at that time. Odds are they won’t be signing any longer once you get to the front of the line anyway since they switch out every ½ hour and you will be disappointed.
4) Enjoy the KNBR broadcast. It’s a nice break and you can sit really close and hear what the players have to say.
5) Wear comfortable shoes. We did a lot of walking that day.
6) Definitely hit the Q&A sessions and stay for awhile so you can sit close and enjoy my boys.
I’m off work this week so I’ll try and blog about Spring Training and other news soon. Here we go, Kids! The boys are coming together to get it done again this season! GO GIANTS!