I went to several baseball games in San Francisco when the Giants played at Candlestick Park. The last game ranks up there as one of the coldest I ever attended, surpassed only by opening day at Yankee Stadium in 2003 (when the seats were covered in ice and snow.)
Now the Giants are playing in their newest home at AT&T Park. The ballpark has changed names several times and has been proclaimed as one of the best parks in baseball by many people I meet. Opened in 2000, AT&T Park is just up the bay, 6 miles north from Candlestick in the South Beach section of San Francisco.
The area around AT&T is decorated with banners featuring Giant players and slogans "It's Hot Inside" and "Its Magic Inside." Bars and restaurants are nearby on 3rd Street and Willie Mays Plaza.
As I arrived at the ballpark I was shocked to see how many fans were waiting outside 6 hours before game time. I've seen this crazy fan behavior only in Boston and Chicago. People were waiting in line to receive a Tim Lincecum bobblehead give-away that day. Another line was for season ticket holders to meet and greet the Cy Young Award winner.
The first order of business was to take a tour of the park. I had some time to kill so I walked around the exterior of the park, seeing statues of Giants greats and plaques honoring other Giants stars on the walls of Willie Mays Plaza. The area in right field is beautiful with the marina, McCovey Cove and the Portwalk, which had a knothole-like area where passersby can watch a game for free for a limited time. Around the Portwalk, great moments in Giants history are engraved in the walkway.
The tour was one of the best I've ever been on. The tour leader was knowledgeable and asked trivia about the team and baseball history. We were taken on the field, inside the dugouts, into press area, luxury suites and to the upper level behind home plate to see the great view of the San Francisco Bay. The interior of the ballpark is decorated with images of the team history and also offers a history of the San Francisco Seals.
When in San Francisco, see the Golden Gate Bridge, take a ride on cable car, visit Alcatraz Island and take in a game at AT&T Park, one of best ballparks in all of baseball.
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Ballpark: A - Beautiful ballpark with not a bad seat in the house, except maybe directly behind home plate with plexi-glass doors with dents and scratches. The kids area at the big glove in left-center is cool. McCovey Cove and cable car add nice touches. Great ballpark tour with excellent tour leaders. It San Francisco, always remember to bring extra layers.
Fans & Atmosphere: B - Great loyal fans, very knowledgeable. Were lined up five hours before game to get a Tim Lincecum bobblehead.
Food: B - Chicken Fingers with garlic fries and ice tea for 15.25. No real signature food.
Mascot: A - Lou Seal, fan friendly seal with just too cute and fun. Much better than the crab.
Staff: A - Very courteous, professional, friendly to all.
Team Tradition: A - Proud of San Francisco Seals and Giants heritage. Honor the NY Giants HOF players and the greats of San Francisco Giants.
Location: A - The park is located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza, at the corner of 3rd Street and King Street, in the South Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, California.
Photos taken July 17-18, 2010 using a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Digital SLR with a EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Standard Zoom Lens, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens.