San Francisco Feature
Going to a San Francisco Giants Baseball Game
The size of AT&T Park hits you immediately—the field, McCovey Cove, and the Lefty O'Doul drawbridge all look like miniature models. At only 13 acres, the San Francisco Giants' ballpark is one of the country's smallest. After Boston's Fenway, AT&T Park has the shortest distance to the wall; from home plate it's just 309 feet to the right field. But there's something endearing about its petite stature—not to mention its location, with yacht masts poking up over the outfield and the blue bay sparkling beyond.
From 1960 to 2000 the Giants played at Candlestick Park, which is in one of the coldest, windiest parts of the city. (Giants' pitcher Stu Miller was famously "blown off the mound" here during the 1961 All-Star Game.)
In 2000 the Giants played their first game at AT&T Park (then called Pacific Bell Park and later SBC Park—in fact, some locals jokingly call it the Phone Company Park). All told, $357 million was spent on the privately funded facility, and it shows in the retro redbrick exterior, the quaint clock tower, handsome bronze statues and murals, above-average food (pad thai, anyone?), and tiny details like baseball-style lettering on no-smoking signs. There isn't a bad seat in the house, and the park has an unusual level of intimacy and access. Concourses circle the field on two levels—on the field level you can stand inches from players as they exit the locker rooms. On the street level non-ticket-holders can get up close, too, outside a gate behind the visiting team's dugout.
Diehards may miss the grittiness of Candlestick, but it's hard not to love this park. It still feels new but has an old-time aura and it's already a San Francisco institution.
The Famous "Splash Hit"
Locals show up in motorboats and inflatable rafts, with fishing nets ready to scoop up home-run balls that clear the right field wall and land in McCovey Cove. Hitting one into the water isn't easy: the ball has to clear a 26-foot wall, the elevated walkway, and the promenade outside. Barry Bonds had the first splash hit on May 1, 2000.
Parking is pricey ($30 and up), and 5,000 spaces for 43,000 seats doesn't add up. Take public transportation. Muni line N (to CalTrain/Mission Bay) stops right in front of the park, and Muni bus lines 10, 15, 30, 42, 45, and 47 stop a block away. Or you can arrive in style—take the ferry from Jack London Square in Oakland (www.eastbayferry.com).
AT&T Park (24 Willie Mays Plaza, between 2nd and 3rd Sts., SoMa, San Francisco, CA, 94107. 415/972–2000 or 800/734–4268. www.attpark.com.)
Park Tours ( $17.50. Daily at 10:30 and 12:30.)
Coca-Cola Fan Lot. The giant Coke bottle and mitt you see beyond the outfield are part of the Coca-Cola Fan Lot playground. The bottle is a slide and the mitt actually has decent views of the field. The playground sits alongside a mini-version of the park where kids can pretend to be big-league ballplayers.
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