Going to a San Francisco Giants Baseball Game
The size of Oracle Park hits you immediately—the field, McCovey Cove, and the Lefty O'Doul drawbridge all look like miniature models. At just under 13 acres, the San Francisco Giants' ballpark is one of the country's smallest. After Boston's Fenway Park, Oracle Park has the shortest distance to the wall; from home plate it's just 309 feet to the tall right-field wall. 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 was 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 Oracle Park (then called Pacific Bell Park and later SBC Park and AT&T 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 above-average food. 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 one level, and in some ticketed areas you can stand inches from players as they exit the locker rooms. At street level, non-ticket-holders can get up close outside a gate in right field. The giant Coke bottle and mitt you see beyond the outfield are part of the Coca-Cola Fan Lot playground. Don't miss the edible garden, the model cable car, and the ballpark specialty Crazy Crab crab sandwich, all located in the centerfield area. 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 has become a San Francisco institution. Park tours are led daily at 10:30 and 12:30 and cost $22.
The Famous "Splash Hit"
Locals show up in motorboats and inflatable rafts, 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 25-foot wall, the elevated walkway, and the promenade outside. Barry Bonds had the first "splash hit" on May 1, 2000.
Parking is very limited and pricey ($35 and up). Take public transportation. Muni lines N and T (to CalTrain/Mission Bay and Sunnydale, respectively) stop in front of the park, and Muni bus lines 10, 30, 45, and 47 stop within a few blocks. Or arrive in style—take the ferry from Jack London Square in Oakland (www.sanfranciscobayferry.com).