AT&T Park - Home of the San Francisco Giants

June 12, 2014 - San Francisco, California, United States

San Francisco Giants - AT&T Ballpark

It was love at first sight! There in front of me was the prominent exterior architectural feature of AT&T Park--one of the two 122 feet clock towers. And it was already 10:55. I quickly realized I would not have enough time before the game started to walk around the park, both exterior and interior, to get all my photos. But I would give it 110%.

Beginning at the front entrance where fans gather and meet was the 9-foot statue of Willie Mays.  We had to take a number to get our “Kodak moment” with Say Hey.  But wouldn’t every baseball fan, young and old alike, want a “selfie” with Willie?    This wasn’t the only impressive statue around the exterior of the Park.  Pitcher, Juan Marichal, was captured in his signature high-kick windup and “Baby Bull” Hall of famer, Orlando Cepeda, was portrayed with his youthful smile at the Lefty O’Doul Plaza entrance.

Honoring Giants teams and players around the exterior of the park took on a wide variety of methods.  These included the Giants Wall of Fame where bronze plaques pay tribute to the greatest retired Giants players over the history of the team.  The Giants History Walk, located along the Port Walk/McCovey Cove was a series of 22 bronze plaques in the sidewalk depicting significant moments in AT&T Park history such as Opening Day 2000, various milestones of Barry Bond’s homerun race, National League and World Series championships, no hitters and perfect games.   Commemorative bricks and tiles pave the walks in many areas surrounding the park--the Willie Mays entrance, along the Port Walk of McCovey Point and in China Basin Park.  According to my research, no bricks or tiles are now available for purchase.  What you bet they create a new sidewalk if they win another World Series!

Strolling behind right field along the waterfront portion of San Francisco Bay, fondly nicknamed McCovey Cove, is special.   Hitting homeruns into McCovey Cove has probably become something on every baseball player’s bucket list.   Fans wait in their kayaks, rafts, fishing boats, sailboats and yachts to snag these special HR’s. People disembark the ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf along the Port Walk to attend the game.  And at one end was Lefty O’Doul drawbridge that allows fans to cross over to China Basin Park.

Beyond left and center field was a marina full of beautiful yachts. Also, visible from outside centerfield was the trademark giant ball glove--a real work of art. The view from the backside is rather close and it is amazing how very realistic it looks. Even the red Rawlings label is so faded you can barely read it and the leather looks dry and worn. Not sure you can appreciate the authenticity of the glove until you see it with your own eyes!

One interesting plaque on the brick wall outside recognizes that in 2010 AT&T Park was the first MLB Park to receive the US Green Building Certification for its Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design (LEED).   Doesn’t that sound like something that would happen in California!  Evidence of their certification appears all over the park including the outside sidewalk drainage system, recycling bins that divert 94% of their waste from going into landfills, lighting retrofits in the ballpark lights, signage, and new video scoreboard.  The scoreboard alone is 78% more efficient than the previous one.  Even the playing field was part of the energy efficiency plan:  (1) the field is now monitored by an irrigation clock that establishes zone watering times resulting in a 33-50% drop in irrigation water usage, (2) an amended infield mix of the sand, silt and clay composition has reduced the watering of the field by 33% and (3) the sub-aeration system assists in the water retention in the root system of the grass.  AND 590 solar panels mounted on the roof in 2007 have provided enough green energy to power over 5,200 homes.  Just think what would happen if we all got on board with energy efficiency!

There was so much more to see outside the ballpark, but we ran out of time.  You could spend the entire day strolling around the exterior of the Park and then going across the Bay to the China Basin Park at McCovey Point where there’s a comprehensive walk through the San Francisco Giants history from 1958 – 1999, a 14-foot statue of Willie McCovey and the Barry Bond Junior League baseball field.  But we needed to go check out the inside.  That’s OK; now I have a legitimate excuse for coming back again!

Inside the park has also been designed with the fan in mind.   There was much to see on the Field Level--lots of entertaining exhibits, quotes, photos, activities for young fans and of course, the Coke slide!

I was eager to see anything “Willie Mays” since I got his autograph at a Houston Colts vs. Giants game when I was in elementary school.   So I was delighted to see the impressive Willie Mays Foundation display at the primary entrance depicting his Gold Gloves along with bats and balls.

A feature I’d never seen before was the special section up behind home plate and next to the Press Box for the SF Press Club.   I found it especially encouraging when I noticed a woman in the Press Box representing the MLB.com organization.   You Go Girl!

Gazing out to the right field fence you see the area known as Levi’s Landing, a beautifully designed wall of arches displaying the scores of the day’s MLB games.  Also the Giants’ 500 Club was honored here. Currently there are four players who’ve hit 500+ Homeruns:  Bonds (762); Mays (660); McCovey (521) and Ott (511).  Levi’s Landing also has the Splash Hits counter, which has been tracking the number of homeruns hit into McCovey Cove since opening day in 2000.   The total has reached 66 and I’m disappointed to say none were hit during our visit.

In the centerfield area, a miniature AT&T Park is available for the younger fans to hit and run the bases and the Coke slide is next door.  There was a height limit so I couldn’t partake in either activity.

Not only is AT&T one of the best ballparks in the MLB; it is one of the largest public wireless hotspots in the world! Over 700 Wi-Fi access points satisfy the needs of the younger, socially connected fans.  The @Cafe in the centerfield bleachers serves as a gathering spot to follow the social media chatter about the team, players, coaches and all things baseball during the game.  Inside on Field Level, the Digital Lounge serves the same purpose.  You’d think you were at Starbucks!

Another fan-friendly, traditional aspect of the Park I loved was the location of the bullpens inside the left and right field foul lines.  Watching pitchers warm up is an interesting part of the game that is obscured in many of the newer parks.

This MLB Park is very, very special.  Even though it’s only 14 years old, it’s easy to understand why critics rate AT&T Park as the best fans’ ballpark.  It is clearly evident the Park was conceived, built and paid for by a legitimate baseball fan, Giants owner Peter Magowan.  Thank you Mr. Magowan for all the modern and traditional touches.

As we exited our seats while celebrating a 7-2 Giants victory, the melody “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” blared soothingly over the PA system.  That’s a real “buzz kill,” commented one young man.  I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.  He was right!  But I can honestly say “I left my heart in San Francisco AT&T Park.”

 

Note:  The photo descriptions appear above the photo (and advertisement).


Pictures

Home of the San Francisco Giants
Leaving on the CALTRAIN
Crowd Leaving Park after Giants Victory
Cutest Fan Attire
 
 

4 Comments

Dorothy Semon:
June 26, 2014
Love your writing and feel like I have been there. Thanks so much.
bob kerico:
June 26, 2014
Once again a complete rendition of your visit to AT&T park is now in the books.
Excellent travelog and we are traveling right along with you and Ken as you detail the environment you are in. A great writeup and the Giants ought to hire you for PR work. Thanks!
Linde and David Spannare:
July 1, 2014
Keep having fun! Everyone should have a retirement that's as enjoyable as yours.
Beverly White:
July 27, 2014
I enjoyed reading and learning about AT@T park and the Giants! What a treasure of memories you are making!
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