Sports Corner

Take me out to the ballpark: 2024 Giants fan preview

(Photo courtesy San Francisco Giants)

Exit Brandon Crawford, Joc Pederson, Mitch Haniger, J.D. Davis and Alex Wood. Enter Matt Chapman, Jorge Soler, Jung Hoo Lee, Nick Ahmed and Blake Snell.

Say hello to the new-look 2024 San Francisco Giants, who take the field at Oracle Park determined to wipe from memory the past two subpar seasons and return to the form that won a franchise-record 107 games in 2021.

Bob Melvin replaces Gabe Kapler as manager. It’s a homecoming for the former Giants catcher and Oakland A’s skipper. Among his coaching lieutenants are former Giants Gold-Glove third baseman Matt Williams, who brings the “Humm-Baby” spirit of Roger Craig, for whom he played in the 1980s and ‘90s, and Pat “The Bat” Burrell, a key contributor on the Giants’ 2010 World Series champs.

No matter the outcome, it will be an historic year, marking a quarter century of baseball action at what was called Pacific Bell Park when it opened in 2000. “It’s amazing to realize that this is the 25th year in our ‘new’ ballpark, and our 66th season in San Francisco,” said Giants CEO Larry Baer at the annual Media Open House on March 20. “But it’s really not so amazing when you think back on all of the memorable moments that have occurred here.”

From the get-go, the Giants home at 3rd & King has been considered one of the finest venues in the Majors. As every Giants fan knows, the experience there is more than just a ballgame. It’s a happening. Parents never tire of taking the kids for a swoosh down the slide inside the enormous Coca-Cola bottle in left field. Folks love sitting in the cable car in right field, hoping a Giants hero slugs one over their head for a Splash Hit into McCovey Cove.

Every year, the Giants hold special days honoring players and teams from their hallowed past. On July 12, the “Core Four” relievers from the 2010, ’12 and ’14 World Series winners — Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo — will be inducted onto the Giants Wall of Fame. The first 20,000 fans will receive a Mt. Rushmore-inspired mini-statue of the quartet. On August 10, the 2014 World Series champions will be celebrated, along with throwback Aloha Shirts for the first 20,000 through the turnstiles.

(Photo courtesy San Francisco Giants)

Speaking of giveaways, the time-honored bobblehead has been a San Francisco staple since the Candlestick era when the Giants became the first MLB team to issue one honoring Willie Mays. This year’s lineup boasts Camilo Doval (April 6), Patrick Bailey (April 20), Willie Mays Birmingham Black Barons (May 31), LaMonte Wade (June 2) and Jung Hoo Lee (July 28).

Heritage Days and Nights are another major Giants tradition. In 2024, they will range from African American (May 31) to LGBT+ Pride (June 15) to Fiesta Gigantes (September 15) to Japanese Heritage Cherry Blossom (May 17), featuring the return of former Giants pitcher Masanori Murakami, celebrating his 60th anniversary of becoming the first Japanese player to appear in a big-league game.

And let’s not forget about the food? How can you at place where the aroma of garlic fries wafts through the summer air? Besides the classic Crazy Crab sandwiches and Orlando’s Cha-Cha bowls, this year’s menu contains many new items, including Fuku spicy fried chicken options created by chef David Chang; waffle mitt sundaes of vanilla ice cream and Oreos topped with a fresh waffle glove; and orange splash, a specialty cocktail made with Hornitos Reposado, orange liqueur, orange juice, lemon lime soda and a squeeze of lime and orange.

New lighting and sound systems, plus LED displays and a remodeled Dugout Store add further to the ambiance. The only thing missing will be the golden tones of legendary public address announcer Renel Brooks-Moon. A string of temporary announcers will anchor the mic until her permanent successor takes over, and the PA booth itself will be named in her honor at a special ceremony this summer.

All things considered, if the boys in orange and black can mount a championship run through September, it will be icing on the cake.

Play ball!

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