The first thing we notice walking into the ballpark for Game One of the World Series? The music, of course. “Friend of the Devil” is playing over the PA, which isn’t surprising, considering the Grateful Dead are still revered in San Francisco and Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery is a huge deadhead. Here he is singing the national anthem with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh in the NLCS—you gotta love that fist-pump by Lesh—but even in the offseason, Flannery plays with his band, the Lunatic Fringe, sometimes in benefit appearances for Bryan Stow and sometimes just for the hell of it. Flannery’s been a musician since a young age. “When I was young,” he says, “I thought I was John Denver.” I love Flannery for his gutsiness and smarts when it comes to, say, sending Buster Posey home against all apparent odds, but you gotta love him for his laid-back life off the field too.
Pomp and regalia are in full bloom at the ballpark, with bunting draped over every level’s banister and, after batting practice, old-time organ music: “Good Day Sunshine,” “Wait ‘Til the Sun Shines, Nellie,” and others played in that inimitable ballpark style. We thought it might be Dave “Baby” Cortez and his Happy Organ, who made a comeback last year, but nope—here’s a shout out Steve Hogan, the Giants organist who sits up there near the huge Coke bottle in left field and waits for instructions from the sound manager over whether to play “Charge” or “Jaws.” Watch this dry little video about his day-to-day task of tickling the Hammond, and try to tell me it isn’t the best job in baseball.
In the lead-up to the game, the PA represents both teams: “Sing a Simple Song” by Sly and the Family Stone, from San Francisco, and “White Trash Party” by Eminem, from Detroit. (Neutral parties are given “Intro” by the xx, among the best manifestations of bland neutrality since the “chillout” craze.) The way that Sly Stone has crashed and burned in recent
years decades, this might not be the best talisman of hope for the Giants, but not exactly to the Tigers’ benefit, either, since the Eminem song celebrates, uh, tramp stamps.
The Giants are up two games in the 2010 World Series and oh my God I can’t even believe I am typing those words.
I don’t have a felt cap covered in Croix de Candlestick pins, and I barely remember hearing Hank Greenwald on the radio before he retired, but I am a lifetime fan and something I can proudly say is that every time the Giants have been in the World Series in my lifetime, I have been at the stadium. In 1989, we had tickets, and watched at Candlestick Park in Game 4 as the A’s finished off a sweep. (I forgave them.) In 2002, we didn’t have tickets but went anyway, just to be a part of the scene outside the stadium; it was one of the better games of that ill-fated series which I can hardly bring myself to think about. This time around, no tickets either, but Tony and I parked at Tommy’s Joynt, rode bikes via Van Ness, Market and Fourth to the ballpark, turned on our Walkmans to KNBR and, without spending one dime on tickets, WATCHED THE GAME THROUGH THE RIGHT-FIELD FENCE. I love San Francisco.
You already know how the game went, and you can probably imagine the scene out on the promenade during the bottom of the 8th when the Giants scored 7 runs on two outs. I just kept splaying my arms up against the fence in religious fervor and hooting at the top of my lungs. After the final out, MAYHEM. Everyone was hugging and high-fiving total strangers; I even high-fived a cop. The Texas players’ buses were parked on Third near the bridge, and the lights were on inside the buses so you could see the players pointing, laughing and taking pictures of fans crowded around the Juan Marichal statue, chanting loudly that Texas sucks.
What you can’t imagine is the bike ride back to Tommy’s, which took us past the MOMA and Union Square. The entire city was going nuts. Cars were parked diagonally with all the doors open, music playing, people dancing in the streets, everyone going wild. People inside their SUVs high-fived us as we rode in the bike lane. People hailing taxis high-fived us while talking on their phones. People from the skinniest alleys to the highest hotel windows leaned out into the street to shout their joy. How can you take that away from people? I say more fair-weather fans, please, if it means more happiness to go around.
I remain amused at my many friends who couldn’t care less about baseball, like Jared Powell at Black Saints Tattoo, who recently offered 20 percent off for customers if they’d only just shut the fuck up about baseball for the duration of their tattoo. And I remain inspired by my friends who are into it, including Ethan Jayne, who is the whole reason I started writing this post in the first place. Formerly of Santa Rosa and since wooed to PDX and the Portland Mercury, Ethan nicely and neatly covers every thought I myself coincidentally had about music and its place in Thursday night’s game over at End Hits with style and humor. Check it out, and cross your fingers for the rest of this series because God knows it hasn’t always been easy being a Giants fan, no matter how long you’ve rocked the orange and black.