My hockey team failed to advance in the playoffs, so in between NBA playoff games, I have begun to turn to baseball.
My home team is the San Francisco Giants. Although I may know only enough about baseball to compete with the average 5-year-old, I like how relaxed the sport is. It gives me a nice background accompaniment while I pore over my mountain of summer schoolwork, and is slow enough to allow me to catch a play as soon as I hear the crack of the bat (versus basketball or hockey, where I blink and miss goals or turnovers). But I digress . . .
The Bestie got us tickets to tour AT&T Park the morning before a game versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. She tried to hide the price from me so I wouldn’t try and sneak money into her wallet again, but the price was $22 (if you were wondering). PRO TIP: Apparently each tour is slightly different depending on whether there are other events (i.e. games) at the park. My experience may not be the same as the next person.
We met our guide outside the second floor of the Giants Dugout store, which connects to a ramp leading into the park. I’ll call our guide Gus, just because I think that was his name, but if it isn’t, I feel like it’s easier to name him anyway.
First stop: Down the ramp and just inside the Willie Mays Gate (each entrance to the park is named after a beloved Giants player) is this donor’s wall doohickey where rich people who gave money to the park are memorialized. The top donors are given the “Gold Glove” status, which mimics the award given to the best fielders in baseball.
The number 24 plays a role in many things around AT&T Park. For example, in the picture above, the letters at the top of the display case number at 24 (count them). If you happen to exit the park through the Willie Mays Gate, you’re met with the phrase “The Giants and AT&T thank you,” also 24 characters. In case you’re wondering, 24 was Willie Mays’s jersey number throughout his time with the Giants (possibly throughout his career, but I can’t remember).
Through a doorway and we found ourselves inside the Field Lounge, a place I have never been because I can’t afford it. It’s open to those who have tickets in the seats closest to the field, and during game days there are apparently people who check your tickets to make sure you’re legit. There looks to be some delicious eats in this section, but none were cooking during our tour. Maybe someday I’ll have the money to experience this. *sigh*
We stopped here for a little bit of history. The San Francisco Giants started off as the New York Gothams in 1883. Apparently their roster included a bunch of tall people, which led to them being nicknamed “The Giants.” They moved to San Francisco in 1958, where they remain to this day, after avoiding being moved twice. AT&T Park is the third home of the Giants in San Francisco, after Seals Stadium and Candlestick Park. It opened in 2000, and I believe was the first privately funded baseball stadium, but feel free to correct me on that. I do know that it was paid off in 16 years of opening, which doesn’t really mean anything to me because I don’t understand banking or business. That’s what the Bestie is for.
After attempting to sneak a peek through the narrow window into the umpire’s room (and having a look at the keypad with BRAILLE), we made it onto the actual playing field. We weren’t allowed to step on the grass, but Gus let us step right to where the dirt meets the grass and helped us snap a few portraits.
The Lexus Dugout Club seats are right behind home plate (ish) and are the closest seats to home plate in baseball. I don’t remember the measurement.
We also got to sit in the visitor’s dugout, complete with four phones and a heating system. Apparently AT&T Park is unique in the fact that the home team sits along the third baseline instead of first as in most parks. Not sure how accurate that is because I’ve never seen a game outside of AT&T Park (yet). The reason for that is the clubhouse behind the third baseline is twice as big as the one behind the first baseline dugout. Usually the tour is able to go inside the visitor’s clubhouse, but because of the game later in the afternoon (and the fact that some members of the Dodgers team was already in there) we weren’t able to go.
I think one thing I should mention about AT&T Park is that it’s WAY cleaner than I expected during the tour. There were teams working hard to finish cleaning before the game. And I’ve been to games before — peanut shells and beer all over the seats, napkins flying in the wind, and don’t think I haven’t noticed the players spitting all over the floor of the dugouts (which I think is so gross, but it’s not my house).
Next stop was the Press Box. We had to shush ourselves to accommodate for the folks actually working, but there’s a beautiful view (as needed for the sports writers). BTW, Alanna Rizzo of SportsNet LA, thank you for letting me sit in your seat during the tour. If you ever find yourself in the press box, know that the windows are opened during a game, so be watchful of foul balls and bats. Also, no team memorabilia in the press box. You can’t rep your team during work hours in this room.
Across from the press box entrance is a display of “The Triplets,” the three Wold Series trophies won by the Giants in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Besides the fact that they’re trophies, there’s not much else to the display. Except that one of the trophies had a bunch of smudges. I guess they don’t get cleaned every time they’re moved.
The other side of the display case house the three World Series rings. The one above is from 2012, I believe. Don’t scoff at the picture — I’m still trying to figure out this photo editing thing. There are different rings for the players, administrative members, and owners, and even tour guides get a ring. Gus proudly showed off his ring, sans diamonds, as he said, and proceeded to tell a super-cute story about shopping with his beloved wife in Palo Alto the day he went to get fitted for his ring. SIDE NOTE: Gus told us that the Cubs’ ring from 2016 has 103 diamonds — one for every year they went would a World Series Championship. Not sure if it’s true, but it’s a cute story.
We trekked up to the upper concourse and sat in what I think are the best seats in the house (only in terms of view — it gets flipping cold up here during night games).
Levi’s Landing (as seen from a blurry distance because I wasn’t able to step onto the field) holds the “Splash Hits” counter. “Splash hits” are a phenomenon in AT&T Park, and I’ve been lucky enough to watch two of them in person. A “splash hit” is a ball that lands in McCovey Cove (the water behind Levi’s Landing, named after another Giants great, Willie McCovey). Requirements for a “splash hit”: (1) The hit must be made by a Giants player, (2) The ball must be hit on the fly without touching the Arcade or the Portwalk behind the Arcade. There have been 71 of these hits since the opening of AT&T Park, and 35 have been by Barry Bonds alone.
We left these seats and walked onto the concourse dotted with photos documenting Giants history. Examples as below:
There are more pictures along the sides of the concourse, but those two I thought were the more interesting ones.
We made our way to the suites, and were able to venture inside of one of the larger ones. For a mere $8,000 – $15,000+, you and your clique can watch the game from these comfy seats. Food and drink not included.
Gus took downstairs from the suites into an open food/seating area, which I assume is for people in the suites. Down the hallway were display cases with awards and Giants memorabilia. There were quite a few, which I won’t bore you with here, but I’ll post a few on Instagram in the next couple of days. Included in these displays are items from Matt Cain’s perfect game a few years back, World Series wins, bobbleheads, and Barry Bonds’s bat (which apparently is small for baseball player).
Overall, this tour was great, even if you’re not a Giants fan. There were a few Dodgers fans who joined us on the tour. I’d love to do this at every MLB park. And every NHL arena for that. I’ll have to research if that’s possible. Anyways, Gus was a doll. He knew a lot of Giants history, encouraged us to ask questions, and even gave the good-sport Dodgers fans in attendance a good rubbing. It’s a great addition to your San Francisco day trip.
Giants beat the Dodgers that day in the bottom of the 10th. I like to think the Bestie and I were good luck.
And here’s Willie Mays, forever playing outside his gate.