Friday is the 20th Opening Day in Pacific Bell Park/SBC Park/AT&T Park/Oracle Park history, and other than the revolving door of corporate names, it’s been the best 20-year run in Bay Area stadium history.
No other place comes close, no matter how much we romanticize the sweet smell of marijuana smoke and ‘BEAT LA!’ Chants at Candlestick Park.
So, let’s craft our 20 Favorite Things about The Park At China Basin, in honor of the big day:
1. It’s a Miracle.
Seriously. I still cannot believe that the team that called Candlestick home plays in an intergalactically beautiful stadium, with ferry docks and water views and port walks and gorgeous statues. Since the day it opened, I keep waiting for someone to shake my shoulder while I sleep, wake me up and tell me the whole thing was a dream.
2. Those Statues.
Which is your favorite? Willie Mays? Its grandeur and geography defining the yard and the club? Willie McCovey? Its outpost overlooking the Cove carrying a romantic view? Juan Marichal? Its eye-striking leg kick greeting you over the Lefty O’Doul Bridge?
3. McCovey Cove.
Credit to Mark Purdy, the old SJ Mercury News columnist, for the perfect name for the perfect place. Kayaks fetching home run balls? Splash Hits? Absurdly good.
No matter how close you were at Candlestick, you were in a football/multi-purpose stadium. At Oracle Park, if you are lucky enough to have field club seats, you’ve never been more a part of a ballgame in your life.
5. The Lefty O’Doul Bridge.
So underrated. Walking the wood planks of the old steel bridge across the Cove is a journey back in time, gazing at the water below instead of a smart phone in your hands.
6. The Krazy Krab sandwich.
Yeah, so it costs $19.50. For the perfectly buttered sourdough bread, casing SF’s own Dungeness crab, we’ll pay it every time.
7. The Right Field Promenade.
Those lucky fans who have those promenade seats, perched above Hunter Pence’s old stamping grounds, have some of the best seats in the game. In front of them, green grass and ball, viewed perfectly from a perch. Behind them, the grandeur of the Bay.
8. The Bricks.
The exterior. The interior. Bricks look good, man.
9. The Archways.
Jon Miller has them memorized — “It’s off of Archway Number Three … “ And fans are watching for free, through them, on the port walk.
10. Ferries to the yard.
My Dad used to tell me about Pacific Coast League doubleheaders between the SF Seals and Oakland Oaks. One game in Oakland in the morning; then both teams ferried across for the afternoon game in The City. Take a ferry to Oracle Park. You’ll feel the ghosts.
11. The Coca Cola Bottle.
Face it. We’re capitalists. It’s our society. That said, there has never been a better mix of naked advertisement and architectural appeal than the giant Coke bottle in left field.
12. The Kids’ Playground in Left Field.
Now 11 and 7, the Murphy boys have aged out. But not before they experienced the thrill of the slide, and the thrill of crushing whiffle balls at the little ballpark out there.
13. The sight of Bruce Bochy in the dugout.
We only get one more year of the King, as my on-air partner likes to call him. Enjoy the amble to the mound.
14. Remembering Tim Lincecum Emerging from the Dugout in the 9th inning of the 2010 NLDS.
The roar at the yard was probably the most organic sound the place has ever produced.
15. Pointing to the Spot Where Travis Ishikawa’s 2014 pennant-clinching HR Left The Yard.
Show your kids. Right there. Right-Center Field. Above Triples Alley.
16. Garlic Fries.
Yeah, they rule. And they’re local. Shout to my crew in Gilroy.
17. The “Worst Seats in the House”.
What, you have View Reserved? Damn, I’m jealous. You get to sit back and watch the world go by, your daily troubles drifting away in front of a baseball game and a world-class vista.
18. The Cha Cha Bowl.
Runner-up to the crab sandwich as best food in the yard — you’re transported to Orlando Cepeda’s native Puerto Rico.
19. The Wall of Fame.
Walk down King Street. Show your kids you were black and orange before parades by pointing out the plaques of John Montefusco, Robby Thompson and Johnnie LeMaster.
20. No Wave. Ever.
Right? Say no more.
See you at the yard.