“The triumph of this team allows us to flash back and connect to our past, to experience the beauty of our memories and shared experiences with unbridled joy. This day is a blessed reminder of a dream fulfilled for all of us” – Larry Baer, Giants President speaking at the San Francisco City celebration of the Giants championship
It has been over a week now since the Giants took the baseball world by surprise. In fact, for many die hard fans who have rooted for the team for at least more than a decade, it took them by surprise too. The shock is just wearing off.
Having had the chance to bask in the orange glow of San Francisco’s first World Series Championship, everyone who has closely followed the Giants is now realizing the true impact of the accomplishment is bigger than a stadium filled with 35 thousand fans during the dog days of summer.
The Giants parade was littered with converts (bandwagoners to those who sport Croix de Candlestick pins from the days of watching baseball in the ice cold winds of Candlestick Park. If you don’t know what a Croix is, good look it up). Converts who couldn’t name the whole starting lineup for the Giants. Converts who couldn’t tell you who are the 4 Giants greats with statues erected outside of AT&T Park. Converts who now own well over $100 worth of brand new Giants merchandise. Converts who know who Mark Zuckerberg is but not Bill Neukom, but that is okay. By the way, my 8 year old daughter can tell you all about the statues.
A parade of champions is not the same as a Christmas Day parade or a New Year’s Day parade. Most parades are for people on the side to watch the spectacle of the parade. A parade of Champions is different. It is for, in this case, the Giants, to see how wide an effect they had on people. For them to see beyond the walls of the stadium. For them to see how crazy they made people. A chance for them to see all the crazy people they converted into fans. Their biggest public audience…..over 1.5 million people (estimated) lined the mile and a half route, the same route taken by Willie Mays and the Giants when they first arrived from New York. This was not a parade for one team. This was a parade for 53 teams and 53 years of long-suffering. One can only imagine what will happen when Chicago and Cleveland win their next World Series.
During the stretch drive of the regular baseball season, my family and I sat in front of some elderly men and screaming high school girls. All the girls could talk about who was cuter, Buster Posey or Barry Zito. The men were questioning about having a rookie catcher was a mistake. My 8 year old daughter looked at me, ready to say something and I had to tell her that it was okay. “But they’re not REAL fans, Dad,” she said. I was proud of my daughter for her aptitude, but I was also glad to see more people enjoying the Giants. true, it was hard to listen to for a diehard fan during a pennant drive, but baseball can not live on die hard fans alone. If that were the case, AT&T Park would be empty.
San Francisco is a melting pot. Being a San Francisco “native” is such a novelty. Only 37% of the residents are even born in California and 35.5% aren’t even born in the US. What shocked me even more is that in my son’s class recently 19 boys signed up for lacrosse while only 11 signed up for baseball which indicates where “America’s past time” sits with the families living in San Francisco. There are few legacy Giants fans in San Francisco. These 2010 Giants had to earn new fans and recruit them through more than a history lesson. They needed to tell their own story. And they did it the San Francisco way. In many ways they represented the city and its crazy mix of citizens. If you didn’t like the story of the hero old guy, the star young pitcher, or the wacky reliever, there was a human interest story somewhere on the roster that you could relate to.
What was more important and maybe something we all could take a lesson or two from is that this was the right team to represent San Francisco and bring it it’s first World Series Championship. Like the 1981 49ers and the 1975 Warriors, each team that brought San Francisco its first championship in their respective sport was made up of underdogs. Each team did it as a team, with unsung heroes and a style that made them distinctive. The ’75 Warriors some consider to be the least talented team to win the NBA title, but they played like a team. The ’81 49ers showed the NFL that the “West Coast Offense” would bring a whole new schema to the game of football.
Winning builds community and that is what all these teams did. The Giants have written the latest chapter and the city still is awash in orange a week later. People feel guilty still talking baseball when football and basketball are being played. It’s okay. At least we’re talking. Some satirists joked that the Giants parade was much bigger than the Gay Pride parades in San Francisco. I think it just proved that San Francisco is a real baseball town. It proved that San Francisco has a way about doing things with style. Finally, it proved that teamwork breeds a great community atmosphere. Long time fans and bandwagoners partied equally hard, and partied together. In San Francisco we are known to be accepting of all types of people (except Dodger fans)..so welcome aboard the bandwagon.