The day finally arrived. The day that officially marked the beginning of my favorite sports season. The day I was guaranteed KNBR would no longer be covering football and would switch over to what I wanted to hear instead. KNBR FANFEST!! This year I went with my friend, Angel. It was her first time attending FanFest. She’s as huge a Giants fan as I am, so I was really excited. And she’s a trooper as she attended with a bum foot!
It was so thrilling to get all decked out in my Giants attire that morning (even though that morning started for me at 4:30 am). I picked Angel up and we had to start the day with our standard trip to Starbucks (both of us are Starbucks lovers). The weather report said it was supposed to be a high of 66 in the City that day with no rain, so we weren’t prepared for wet weather. Thus when we hit about Los Altos on Highway 280, we were a little shocked at the heavy fog we encountered. Would there be fog in the City as well? Would we be waiting in line for over 2 hours drenched in mist? Luckily, the fog dissipated as we got closer to the ballpark. Whew!
Ah, the feeling you get as AT&T Park comes into view. Pure bliss. Like seeing an old friend. We parked in Lot A (parking was supposed to be $10, but for some reason we got charged $16). Then we set out to wait in line with all the other fans. We got to the park at about 7:45 am and were waiting right in front of the entrance about 10 people back. I think that is the sweet spot time because the line grew exponentially after that. We made friends with three girls in line behind us, all college age. Turns out that we had several life connections as one of them had just graduated from UC Davis (my alma mater), one was planning on transferring there, and they all were from Antioch (I lived there for 19 years)! I even wondered if I had ever subbed in their classes while I lived there! Their goal was to get Brandon Crawford’s autograph – hope it worked out for them. Really nice kids. Chatting with them made the time pass quickly, and before we knew it, it was 10:00 am and the gates were opened.
We had a different overall strategy for FanFest this year. I’ve given up on trying to get autographs. Last year, even though we got in line at 6 am, I still would have had a 2 hour wait to get any autographs. Waste of precious FanFest time. So instead we started off at the Giants’ Clubhouse tour. I had always wanted to do this, but the lines later in the day are always too long. We were able to walk right in and we were the only ones in there, so we could spend as much time as we wanted getting goosebumps being in the boys’ home. We got to see where they eat, their lockers, and we got to walk down the stairs they take to the field. So cool! The funniest part was that we got to see where they keep the gum! 5 flavors: Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Big Red, Spearmint, and Winterfresh.
Next we tried to walk into the dugout (which you’ve been able to do before), but it was cordoned off. We decided to hit the sponsor tents instead. We just missed getting some cool orange Peet’s coffee mugs, but we did get orange Giants shirts and some free coffee. We also watched Brandon Crawford being interviewed by KNBR on the field for a bit. Not sure I’m into his man bun, but at least it keeps the hair out of his beautiful face.
After being on the field, we headed to the Press Box. I had never gone in there before, and again we were able to walk right in. Those guys have a sweet view of the field. I noticed that each of the media outlets has an assigned seat. Who knew? I had fun fantasizing about covering a game from in there. The Willie Mac Award plaque with the names of the previous winners was displayed on the wall. We also got to peek into the area where Renel does her thing, but it was closed off. And of course, being the sillies we are, we had to use the Press Box restroom because we knew that’s the one Renel uses. One stall – just for her. I even took a picture!
When we left the Press Box, we realized that we could use elevators that are normally blocked off to fans, so we headed to the Club Level in one of these elevators. We ended up in a hallway that went right by Bobby Evans office! As we continued on our way we passed a table where they were promoting park tours. One of the people at the table was the head of park tours, and she was wearing her 2014 World Series ring. She was gracious enough to let both of us try it on! I asked the other guy at the table where his ring was, and he said he didn’t have one – yet. He had high hopes that the even year would bring him one as well.
After that we headed to the Q&A stage on the Club Level. We got there as Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, and Bruce Bochy were being interviewed by Kate Scott of KNBR. We were pretty far back in the crowd, but we could still see them. So cool to have them right there in front of us. I even got to ask Joe Panik a question! I asked him who would win the homerun contest between him and Matt Duffy this season. He seemed a little embarrassed by the question, and of course he said he would if he was able to play the entire season (he was out with an injury for a decent part of the season last year). Crawford also said Panik would win, also mentioning the fact that it’s much harder for lefties to hit homers at AT&T Park. At the end of the session, the three posed for pictures together. Never realized how tall Boch is – he was at least 3 inches taller than either Panik or Crawford plus he’s huge!
After those three left, the apple of Angel’s eye arrived. BUSTER! He was in the next session with Denard Span and Matt Duffy. They were being interviewed by Larry Krueger of KNBR. Since a lot of people left after the previous session, we were able to get much closer to the stage, and Angel was in heaven. At one point, she waved to Buster, and he waved back! Day made! The interesting part about this session was that Denard Span mentioned that he still hadn’t officially been told that he would be playing center field, even though in the previous session Bochy said he would be. Guess they hadn’t been able to break the news to Angel in person yet and make it official. Nice that they care about how he is going to take it. It was nice to get a feel for Denard’s personality – he’s really funny and should mix well with the rest of the boys. We were both dying to ask questions during this session, but goofball Larry Krueger only allowed 2 questions during the last 5 minutes. One guy standing next to me kept complaining loudly enough for the guys on stage to hear. Hope Kate was able to school Larry and he’ll do better next season.
After that we headed to the View Level to see if we could spy some of the guys who were signing autographs up there. That’s the thing – you don’t have to wait in those long lines to get close to the players, especially if they are changing shifts when you get there. At the first booth they were about to change, and Dave Righetti and Mac Williamson walked right by me. You just don’t realize how very tall those guys are! They were replaced by Joe Panik, Ehire Adrianza, and Hensley Meulens. Joe walked right by me as he approached the table. Was able to get close enough to get some great shots of them, including several of Joe Panik’s beautiful smile. As I was taking pictures, another fan near me wasn’t sure who Hensley was, and I told her that he was the batting coach and mentioned that he was knighted so you had to call him “Sir”. Hensley must have overheard this because he turned to me, smiled and gave me a thumbs up!
At the next booth I saw Jarrett Parker and Dave Righetti (again) just sitting there, not signing yet. I decided to strike up a conversation with Jarrett, saying that it was amazing he had hit 3 homeruns in one game and telling him that I had seen him hit the grand slam over the centerfield fence at Spring Training. He said, “Thank you for the support!” Then I realized why they were just waiting there as Hunter Pence walked right past me headed for their table. He was taking selfies with everyone as he walked. He was so generous with his time. Even while he was signing autographs, he would get up from the table and take selfies with people in the crowd. The guy must have been exhausted at the end of the day! As they left their table, I tried to get close enough to Jarrett Parker to take a selfie, but the guy seemed kind of overwhelmed by the whole thing. I did get close enough to realize how tall he is. You just don’t realize it watching them on TV.
By that time, it was 3:00 pm and FanFest was over. Amazing how quickly 5 hours can fly when you are in heaven! We headed out and got to glimpse a couple of guys as they headed out of the parking lot. What a fabulous day I got to share with my bud! And the weather turned out to be gorgeous. Definitely has me amped up for the season to come.
The boys are in Arizona as we speak getting ready for their Spring Training games. Love seeing the videos of them practicing, including one of Madison blowing a snot rocket as he walks alongside Jeff Samardzija! Check it out! Looking forward to my Spring Training adventure with my brothers at the end of March. We’re even going to a Giants/Dodgers game this season. Can’t wait! Hope they televise a lot of the Spring Training games so I can get an early fix. It’s also fun to see the kids that are up-and-coming. Until next time, GO GIANTS!! WELCOME BACK!!