Listen Live Now:

2012 Rewind: A budding dynasty through the eyes of superfan McCovey Cove Dave

Courtesy of Dave Edlund

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Giants’ 2012 World Series, KNBR will release a series of stories highlighting that special run leading up to Aug. 13’s reunion at Oracle Park.

In Pablo Sandoval’s 11 seasons with the Giants, he hit eight home runs over the right field seats and into McCovey Cove. 

Dave Edlund, otherwise known as McCovey Cove Dave, has five of them — his first and last Splash Hits, plus three more that bounced into the water. 

None of Sandoval’s three home runs in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series left the confines of then-AT&T Park. But Edlund couldn’t help but beam a little bit more than normal with each one. 

“It was one of the most electric moments,” Edlund told KNBR. “In the old days, back when Barry (Bonds) was up, there was like an electric feeling. People were so super excited that he was at-bat. There was an incredible excitement. Everybody’s hoping to get that special home run. But after Panda had hit two home runs and thought that he might hit another, it was just unbelievably exciting…we felt the energy. We could hear the roar from inside the park.” 

Edlund sees the game a bit differently. How couldn’t he, from his perch on the China Basin bay? 

As of late July, Edlund has collected 46 career McCovey Cove balls and 57 total. Five of those came in 2012 — including his only postseason souvenir — when he attended every home playoff game. 

Edlund, the 2016 Fansided Fan of the Year, was made to float on the bay and chase baseballs. He grew up playing water sports. He’s won two National Championships in free dive spearfishing. His retirement job now is to retrieve golf balls at the bottom of a pond in San Jose; he makes $800 to $1,000 per day. 

The 66-year-old has been a Giants fan since the 1960s. He left his job at Hewlett Packard in 2001 at age 45 and recovered his first Cove ball four years later. 

“Randy Winn, September 14, 2005,” Edlund said almost reflexively. You never forget your first. 

In 2010, Edlund said he got his hands on data outlining home run landing locations. He positions his kayak behind the right field wall based on who’s up at the plate. Since he can’t see the game action, he listens to the radio broadcast, reacting from that and the voice of the crowd. 

He knew most of Sandoval’s homers would land behind the fourth water cannon — the furthest away from the right-field foul pole. Edlund’s eight Sandoval balls are the most of any player, with Brandon Belt (six) second. 

Edlund and Sandoval have met several times, mostly at charity events. The three-time World Series champion has signed all eight of his Cove balls for Edlund. 

“I got to see how Panda transitioned,” Edlund said. “He was very, very happy when he first started. Maybe not has happy just before he left in 2014. Then when he came back as a Giant, after he left Boston, he was the most happy of all. For him, it was like coming home…Panda, when he’s happy, he’s got a smile from ear-to-ear.” 

By 2012, Edlund had already established himself as McCovey Cove Dave. 

“My breakthrough year wasn’t really until 2010,” Edlund said. “But quickly I became the guy other guys were trying to be, starting in 2010. When ‘12 came around, now people are watching where I’m positioning myself.” 

The height of the Cove was during Bonds’ home run chase, but the playoff runs also exploded the Cove population. For the 2012 Divisional Series, Edlund remembers about 20 kayakers joining him. Then 50 for the NLCS. By the World Series, at least 100 kayakers, paddle boarders and bigger fishing boats floated. 

Bullhorns tooted. On bigger boats, people cooked gourmet food — “I got a lot of freebies,” Edlund said. There was more drinking.

As the playoffs progressed and the Cove got more lively, it became harder for Edlund to hear the radio broadcast and follow the games. He said next time the Giants make the World Series, he’ll have to invest in better noise-canceling headphones. 

“It got so loud, it got difficult to do my job,” Edlund said. 

During the 2012 NLCS, Edlund captured his first, and only, postseason ball. It came from a combination of luck and experience. 

A year earlier, Edlund caught Carlos Beltrán’s 298th and 300th career home runs when the outfielder played for the Giants. Edlund usually keeps his found baseballs, but returned the milestone to Beltrán in the Giants’ clubhouse in exchange for signed memorabilia. 

He thinks Beltrán, who played right field for the Cardinals in 2012, remembers the gesture. In the Giants’ 7-1 win over St. Louis in Game 2 of the NLCS, Angel Pagán smoked a leadoff home run into the right-field arcade seats. A fan tried to bare-hand the homer, batting it back into play to Beltrán’s feet. Beltrán tossed it over the wall and into the Cove, dropping it five feet from Edlund. 

“It darn-near hit my kayak,” Edlund said. 

Even if Beltrán’s toss was coincidental, it was quite a thank-you note. 

The other major moment that sticks out to Edlund — and many Giants fans — is the ninth inning of Game 7 of the NLCS. Leading 9-0, the Giants had all but punched their ticket to the World Series. That’s when the San Francisco sky opened up, drenching AT&T park with a pseudo-tsunami. 

The National Weather Service’s gauges were down that night in San Francisco, so it’s unclear exactly how much rain fell on Oct. 22, 2012. But it was certainly more than the 0.03 average for that day. The outlier event came at the start of a drought period in the region. 

Plastic bags covered FOX’s cameras. Bruce Bochy’s pullover was weighed down and shining. And the iconic image: series MVP Marco Scutaro holding his hands up to heavens, soaking it all in. 

On the Cove, most kayakers sought cover underneath the boardwalk. Not Edlund. Even though he doesn’t bring rain gear, he was totally fine getting drenched. 

“I said, ‘what the hell, it doesn’t matter,’” Edlund said. “I’m going to just stay out here. And I did. And it was fantastic.” 

In that moment, alone in McCovey Cove — where else? Of course it was fantastic.

 

Get KNBR in your inbox

Subscribe today to bring The Sports Leader to your email inbox weekly.