Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
Take Me Out to the Ballgame is a Cubs DNA series where our staff visits other ballparks. Today, Staci takes you on a few of her many visits to Oracle (or AT&T or SBC or Pacific Bell or whatever it's called these days) Park in San Francisco.
I don't think it's a secret at this point that I'm a native Californian. I've only been to Wrigley Field once in my entire life (although I'll be correcting that this spring), so I usually only have two options available to me to catch the Cubs on the regular--either brave the sewage issues and go for the "charm" of Oakland, or sit in traffic on the Bay Bridge, fight for parking and behold the majesty of whatever the San Francisco Giants are currently calling their ballpark. And majestic it is. There's nothing quite like watching a bomb sail over the right field wall and into McCovey Cove, like this one that I tracked on its way out while I was there this season:
Sitting right on the San Francisco Bay, the ballpark offers not only some of the most beautiful views of any MLB park, but is also one of the most attractive and unique parks itself. One of the fun things is that since it's a neighborhood park and isn't connected to a large parking lot, you can walk around the perimeter before the game and get a peek inside, particularly through the fencing where the standing room only seating is in right field. A few seasons ago, my daughter and I arrived early enough to catch part of Tyler Chatwood throwing a side session.
I did NOT yell out, "WOOO CHATTY!" but I wanted to.
The downside? Everything about going to Oracle is expensive. If you drive, it's expensive. Transit? Expensive. Food? Yup. And tickets cost probably 30% more than what you pay across the Bay in Oakland. You want pipes that work, a fancy view, a revitalized neighborhood and that fresh, clean San Francisco air, you're gonna pay for it. It's why if I do go, it's only once per season, and I usually spring for some good seats.
It's also worth it to get there early for some autograph hounding, especially if you have a little one or two in your group. My daughter is somewhat of an expert, particularly at attracting Cubs relievers. A great feature of the Field Club seats, if you're so inclined to spring for them, is exclusive access to the tunnel where the players enter and leave the field, including before the game. It's there where you can have an additional chance for your kiddos to snag some autographs, like mine did here with Justin Wilson in 2018.
J-Wil: Cuter in person. Who knew?
This season, we took the last opportunity we'd have before the Giants ill-advisedly move them behind center field and sat out near the bullpens. Among other things, it was great to witness up close Lester Strode yell in relievers' ears while they were warming, giving them their game plans during the games.
My kiddo also managed to pull another Cubs reliever into her orbit before the game, when Brandon Kintzler sauntered over and signed her baseball during warm ups. Pro tip: If you want Salt's autograph, you MUST say please. My daughter was the only one who did, and she was literally the only child who got an autograph. Salt does not play, and clearly values manners.
Even salty when doing you a solid.
The atmosphere at Giants games is great for both home and visiting fans alike, as well. When I was younger and the team still played at Candlestick Park, fans could be much more aggressive toward visiting teams' fans. The team has done a great job in recent years, however, in making sure security and ushers squelch that sort of behavior really quickly. Generally, the last several years Giants fans have been friendly, talkative, and even though Cubs fans make up a good portion of the crowd every time we go, it's a very good family atmosphere. If you've got some dough to spend and can have patience getting to the park (leave early!), a game at Oracle is always a good time.