Home opener a success for SF Giants

A statue of former San Francisco Giant Juan Marichal is shown outside of AT&T Park in San Francisco, Monday, April 23, 2007.

April 8, 2011 7:43:19 PM PDT
The World Series Champion San Francisco Giants went into Friday's home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals with great expectations. They and the fans had the glorious experience of watching the championship banner being raised from last year's win -- the first since the Giants moved to San Francisco.

Taking a look around the AT&T ball park, fans could see lots of signs and banners that said it all -- 2010 World Champs. The Giants made a grand entrance with fireworks shooting into the sky as they ran onto the field. Closer Brian Wilson handed over the game winning ball that won the title and unveiled the World Championship flag. Giants' legend Willie Mays handed the flag to Wilson who ran to center field so the flag can be hoisted above the ball park. And so the home opener was filled with not just excitement, but a new feeling of confidence.

"Elation, pride in this team and what it has done and what it can do again and a certain feeling of humility," said San Francisco Giants owner Bill Neukom.

Add to that the enthusiasm of the fans for them it doesn't get any better. Every seat was taken and it will be a sellout season.

"Last season it was so special, so tense, and so exciting that you couldn't get up to go to the bathroom. It was like a hockey game, it was phenomenal," said Oakland resident Gene Wiggins.

One man came from Florida for Opening Day.

"I was born the same year they moved to San Francisco...1958. I've literally waited my entire life for this," said Doug David from Orlando, Florida.

Retired long time Giants broadcaster Lon Simmons relished this day, a far cry from the miserable days of Candlestick Park.

"We were both big and ugly. We were both windy and nobody could figure out how to get rid of us," said Simmons.

The Giants won against the Cardinals in the bottom of the 12th inning, 5-4. Matt Cain, the longest tenure Giant, tossed out the first pitch to manager Bruce Bochy. It is a rarity that a player got to throw out the first pitch.

The day began very early for many fans. Rod and Ava De La Rosa of Madera showed up at AT&T Park at 4:45 a.m. They realized the game started at 1:35 p.m., but they wanted to start soaking it all in as soon as possible.

"I don't know, we're just crazy, we just love Opening Day. It's the home opener we've been waiting for. We have been here several times before and there's nothing like it and now we got the championship this year, so this is going to be even more awesome," said Rod.

Fans also started gathering at the Public House restaurant before dawn -- many of them still cherishing their memories from the 2010 championship season.

"Its opening day -- this is a great time to have them back in the city from all the enjoyment we had last year. It was magical," said Giants fan Alden Hilton.

The World Series championship trophy also arrived early Friday morning. Team officials said they had some surprises planned for the home opener. Even though they have the added weight of presenting the world champions, they say it wasn't difficult planning the opening ceremony.

"It wasn't that much pressure because we had so many celebrities volunteering to be part of Opening Day and we were pretty selective in who we chose. There's a lot of love for the Giants around the country," said Giants president Larry Baer.

The ceremony included a moment of reflection for Bryan Stow. The 42-year-old Giants fan who was beaten up by two Dodgers fans after last week's season opener in LA. Stow's family said he was planning to be at AT&T Park for the home opener, but he is in the hospital with a fractured skull. Giants officials said security was at the forefront of their planning meetings.

"In light of what happened at Dodger Stadium, we're doing a refresh of every possible security precaution. A lot of it you don't see, the fans won't notice, but it's critical," said Baer.

Rock band Train sang the National Anthem.

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