Oracle Park – San Francisco Giants
San Francisco Open Your Golden Yard
The San Francisco Giants have a deep baseball history that dates back to their golden days in New York. Established in 1883 as the New York Gothams, they would be renamed three years later as the New York Giants. There would be many a memorable moment for the New York Giants franchise such as Willie Mays over the shoulder catch in Game One of the 1954 World Series and Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round The World” in 1951. All told, the New York Giants would win 14 pennants and five World Series championships.
With decreasing attendance and the Polo Grounds deteriorating, like their longtime nemesis from Brooklyn, the Giants were seeking a new yard. During this time, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, looking to move to Los Angeles after a failed attempt of their own for a new yard, convinced Giants majority owner Horace Stoneham to move out west and so for the first time in 1958, Major League Baseball would have two franchises west of the Mississippi.
The Giants would take up temporary residence at Seals Stadium. Upon arriving in The City, Stoneham was searching for a spot where his team could call their own. During a visit to Candlestick Point on the shore of San Francisco Bay, he ventured through the area on a nice warm morning when the winds were calm. Little did he know what would “blow” ahead…
Candlestick Park would be the Giants home for 40 seasons from 1960-1999. Throughout the years, nightly winds accompanied by the city’s fog would wreak havoc on players from both teams. Candlestick would be enclosed in 1970 to accommodate the 49ers move from Kezar Stadium, but winds remained so unpredictable that routine fly balls were anything but routine.
Food & Beverage 5
San Francisco is a city that loves to eat. The variety throughout the yard, from the simple hot dogs and brats to the various ethnic choices are vast and really too much to list. Trust me on this. Whatever your dining pleasure, you will not go wrong. One could spend an entire game doing a food crawl throughout the entire stadium. One of the many plentiful food items the locals love is their garlic fries. The aroma from the fries is evident throughout the entire stadium as the smell of garlic permeates throughout the concourses on to the stands. The variety of fine ballpark dining options is reason alone to arrive early.
Among the favorites here are the Crazy Crab’z Sandwich, a fresh Dungeness crab on grilled sourdough bread, as well as The Baby Bull Carved Tri Tip Sandwich and the Cha Cha Bowl, which comes with jerk chicken, white rice and black beans topped with pineapple salsa; the latter two in honor of Giant legend Orlando Cepeda, known during his playing days as “The Baby Bull.”
If you’re looking for a unique and healthy ballpark dining experience, head on over to The Garden at AT&T Park. Located directly behind the center field fence below the scoreboard and open to all fans, the 4,320 square foot edible garden features a wide variety of herbs, fruits, and vegetables grown in the surrounding garden beds. As crops grown in the garden change throughout the season, so does the menu, offering fans a seasonal variety from this vast list of fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers going directly from “farm to table” in time to satisfy your pregame cravings. Several communal tables are located throughout the garden where staff can often be spotted picking items for food prep. Fans are also encouraged to pick their own herbs from the herb bed. I recently had a chance to sample some garden bites. I’ll bet you walk away filled and happy.
Beverages available are your usual Coke products as well as your wide variety of domestic and import draft and bottled beer, wine, and specialty cocktails.
The San Francisco Treat, Ghirardelli Chocolate (What San Francisco treat we’re you thinking of?). Ghirardelli, a San Francisco institution, offers fans with a sweet tooth hot fudge sundae’s, 2 scoop waffle cones and hot cocoa for those cold evening games. The ice cream flavors are simple, Ghirardelli Chocolate and vanilla. While nothing spectacular, the options Ghirardelli offer are something you may want to enjoy at the yard as part of the AT&T Park and San Francisco experience. Yes, it’s about as touristy and cheesy as having Starbucks in Seattle and Safeco Field. But what the heck, you are a tourist and You Only Live Once !!!
The vibe one gets is evident as you approach the yard. Since its opening in 2000, AT&T Park has featured some of the busiest turnstiles in all of baseball. From the views beyond the bay to the nightly breeze, AT&T Park, with its gorgeous surroundings anchored by the bay, has done more than its share to bring baseball fans to its gem.
For a highly charged atmosphere, one should make it a point to visit when the Dodgers are in town. A rivalry that goes back to their days in New York, the intensity is always at a fever pitch when these two meet. Though the Giants have had the upper hand lately with three World Championships in this decade, that does not stop the local faithful from expressing their disdain to their Southern California rivals, as the sight of Dodger Blue is enough to whip out the 40,000 plus Black and Orange-clad fans in unison into one huge “ BEAT L.A.” chant, regardless where their blue-clad rivals may be in the standings.
The theme for 2018 is “ It Doesn’t Get More SF.” If one needed any more visual evidence, an actual cable car is located in the right-center field arcade. The car, originally car #4, formerly #504, is now numbered 44 in honor of Willie McCovey. To take in one of the many true “AT&T Park/San Francisco Experiences,” fans are encouraged to take in an inning or two, even the rival Dodger fans, in spite of the car once displaying a label that read “No Dodgers Fans Allowed.”
Once an industrial area that occupied World War 2 storage units, AT&T has certainly helped revitalize the surrounding area since its opening in 2000. Located in the district known as China Basin, the area around the yard has seen its share of high-end luxury units migrate into the neighborhood. It doesn’t stop there as the city is expected to approve the Giants plan for more development surrounding the yard.
Among the popular pre and postgame, hangouts are Momo’s, Lucky Strike and Polo Grounds, all conveniently located across the street from the yard’s grand entrance, Willie Mays Plaza on 3rd and King, Momo’s right around the corner on 2nd and King.
If you are looking to explore the area during your visit to China Basin, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority offers trolley service to and from the yard, with the “N” line taking fans by historic Golden Gate Park with stations along Market Street in Downtown connecting you to other trolley and transit lines to explore other parts of The City. Speaking of the Golden Gate, if it’s that highly talked about bridge you want to visit, you can take the “N” to Judah Street and 19th Avenue and transfer to bus line 28. The 28 will drop you off right at the foot of the bridge.
Fisherman’s Wharf is not far from the yard either. One could walk along King Street through The Embarcadero to The Wharf and enjoy the sweeping views of the bay throughout the approximately 3-mile walk. Or, one could take one of San Francisco’s vintage street car’s to The Wharf as well. Scoffed by locals as being touristy, if it’s your first time venturing The City, you may still want to pay a visit to The Wharf and grab yourself a crab sandwich or some chowder on sourdough from one of the many vendors. One of my favorite activities to do at The Wharf is visiting the sea lions along the pier at the Sea Lion Center.
After years and years of withstanding bone-chilling temperatures at Candlestick Park, Giants fans continue to make their way to 3rd and King in droves. Since its opening in 2000, Oracle Park has averaged over 3 million fans a season.
With San Francisco being one of the most expensive cities to live in, the majority of the crowd can be upscale. Even with such an upscale crowd, the fan base is diverse. Tough San Franciscan’s can have a reputation of being the wine and cheese type; that does not prevent the local’s from showing off their passion from the home nine.
Navigating through the concourses can be a bit of a challenge, especially a promenade along the arcade. This is mostly due to space limitations during the building of this gem. Otherwise, strolling the park is highly encouraged to soak in all the beautiful vantage points.
Parking can not only be a challenge but also extremely pricey starting at $40. Public transit is highly recommended. The SFMTA offers a couple of trolley lines that drop fans off directly across the street from the yard along King Street as well as a few other bus lines that are within the vicinity of the yard. Both the trolley and transit lines provide connections to most other Bay Area transit options, including the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) for fans coming from points stretching as far south to San Francisco International stretching to Oakland and beyond the East Bay.
Return on Investment 5
The Giants are one of several teams that have utilized the Dynamic Pricing system. Though still one of the priciest tickets, fans can still purchase tickets below $10, a really great bargain especially for first time visitors. Prices for premium and weekend games, especially against the rival Dodgers, can set you back a bit, but the experience of visiting one of baseball’s crown jewels will certainly be well worth the cost.
With all the sights, displays and activities offered, you will want to make it a point to arrive here early. The Giant Vault is a new addition for the 2018 season with artifacts and other memorabilia dating back to the club’s days in New York. The theme will be changing each season with this year’s (2018) theme celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Giants move out west.
Should you decide to bring the little ones and they get restless, the Coca-Cola Superslide, a green Coke bottle with a children’s slide inside, is one of the park’s most visible features alongside the Giant 1927 Old-Time Four-Fingered Baseball Glove. (It’s really hard to miss those two features…) Both features are located behind the left field stands. Should you decide to continue exploring more of what the yard has to offer, walk along the concourse beyond the Arcade, located behind the right field stands.
As you walk along the concourse you will not only be offered beautiful views of the Bay Bridge but you will be a stone’s throw away from McCovey Cove, where you will see kayakers awaiting a Splash Hit. Even with the short distance down the right field line, splash hits are not easy to come by. To date, 118 total Splash Hits have been hit to The Cove, 77 by the home 9.
Strapped on cash? How ‘bout some free baseball? That’s right folks! The Portwalk. located beyond the right field wall outside the yard along McCovey Cove, allows fans to peek into the action. Fans are permitted free viewing every three innings, however, depending on the size of the crowd and the discretion of Giants management, it is possible that one could spend a whole 9 innings or more viewing a free MLB game. Cant beat some free baseball can we?
After years and years of vying for a new stadium, groundbreaking would begin in the industrial waterfront area known as China Basin on December 11, 1997. Known then as Pacific Bell Park, this would be the first privately built MLB park since Dodger Stadium opened in 1962. Even with the anticipation and excitement of a new yard, fans could not have envisioned the beauty of a gem they would be frequenting for years to come…
Since the opening of Camden Yards in 1992, though 20 other yards have opened, one is no longer used for baseball, one will soon be leaving their current yard and one possibly looking for new digs, AT&T Park, now in its 19th season, thankfully, will be here for many years to come.
If visiting The City for the first time, it is a good idea to pack some warm clothing, and bring lots of cash. San Francisco can be surprisingly chilly for the first time visitor expecting some warm California weather, as Mark Twain once quipped, “The coldest winter I have experienced was a summer in San Francisco’” AT&T Park is as iconic to San Francisco as its Golden Gate Bridge. Lodging in The City, as well as any other tourist activity, is anything but cheap, but well worth the visit.
One visit to this beauty and you will see why Oracle Park consistently ranks among the top ballpark experiences among baseball fans. To fully take in the entire experience, it’s highly recommended that you find the time to take in two games. As you walk away to the tune of Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” a piece of your heart will undoubtedly be left at 3rd and King.
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Latest Crowd Reviews
One of the best ballparks in the majors. The design is perfect for the people of San Francisco, the scenes are brilliant, and the food is on par with some of the best restaurants in the city. Just bring a jacket for a night time game.
There really is not a bad seat in the house. My favorite area for day games is in the left or center field bleachers. For evening games, the lower level along the first base line provides great views and protection from the wind. For an amazing experience, get tickets for when the Dodgers pay a visit to the City by the Bay.