Someone once said that nothing in life worth having comes easy. And after my experience in the San Francisco Giants press box on Tuesday night, truer words have never been spoken.
I arrived at AT&T Park around 4:00 p.m. for the Giants 7:15 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and went to the executive offices to pick up my press pass. I was giddy with excitement with my computer bag ready to go, trying my hardest to look like I knew what I was doing. The gentlemen at the counter was a bit less than helpful, especially when he told me my name was not on the list. I was assured that my name was to be on the list, and I immediately had a sinking feeling in my stomach that I wasn't going to be able to get in.
I began to panic. I made a flurry of phone calls, a couple of e-mails, and waited outside the ballpark with my fingers crossed that my luck was going to change. I needed a distraction, so I walked around the Dugout Store for a while to kill some time, did some people watching around McCovey Cove, then went back into the offices to see what, or if anything had transpired.
As I walked in, I saw local mini-celebrity Ashkon Daravan in the executive offices, who also was having trouble getting his pass for the game. He was there to shoot part of his next video, and I introduced myself and let him know I was a big fan of his work. He was very humble and personable even as he and his crew were stranded without passes as well, and I was glad that I got the chance to meet him. But little did I know that was just the tip of the iceberg for me this evening.
After an hour or so of waiting a media relations person for the Giants got everything got sorted out and my press pass arrived, but not before I was able to meet another 'celebrity', the Food Network's Tyler Florence. He too was there to get himself a pass for the game (I'm not quite sure what he was doing though) and I shook his hand and told him I was a big fan (a bit of a white lie seeing that I don't watch the Food Network much). He too was very nice, but we went our separate ways with our passes as I headed for the media entrance.
I got all checked in and entered into the bowels of AT&T Park. I walked around the tunnel that held the clubhouses, field entrances and the like trying to appear that I had done this before and knew where I was going. Thanks to fellow SBN Bay Area writer James Brady I had some understanding of where to go and headed up the elevator to the media lounge area on the third level of the park. I walked past the broadcast booths, caught a glimpse of Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper getting ready for their broadcast, and made my way to the press dining room for some grub.
There was a nice buffet style layout with a salad bar, some sticky rice, and some peanut glazed chicken laid out, so I grabbed a plate and dug in. Little did I know that this food cost money as the lady with the cash box was temporarily not around, and I didn't realize it until I was already done eating. Too embarrassed to mention it to anyone, I quietly got out of there scot free as luckily no one noticed or said anything. I grabbed myself a cup of coffee (one of way too many this evening) and headed down a floor to the press box.
As I stepped out of the elevator and into the press box the first person I saw was the Giants MLB.com's beat writer Chris Haft getting himself a cup of coffee. I wanted to act like an annoying fan and give him a handshake and tell him how much I enjoy his work, but I just gave him a friendly hello and found a spot to set up shop. After all, this room was filled with professionals, the last thing I wanted to do in pull a busch-league maneuver within 5 minutes inside the press box. I looked around and saw a slew of familiar faces, not because I know them but because I read their work. Andrew Baggarly, Hank Schulman, Diamondbacks beat writer Nick Piecoro amongst others; all grinding away at their craft hours before the game was to start.
But one guy was schmoozing the press box like no other, former Oakland A and current KNBR radio host Eric Byrnes. He was shooting the bull with just about everyone, and I got the chance to shake his hand and tell him to keep up the good while I quietly listened to his stories as I sat close to him. He was cracking me up with his outlandish stories and happy-go-lucky attitude, but I was trying not to act like I was snooping, so I bit my lip and kept from laughing at his antics.
I have this terrible affliction that when something is free, I will gladly take more than I need, and tonight it was coffee. I kept pouring myself cups until the game started, and when it did I was seriously amped up. I had all my game notes, lineups, and scorecard at the ready hoping to see some great baseball action in probably one of the best seats in the house. Instead I had a over-caffeinated pitcher's duel on my hands, filled with groundouts and pop flies.
Tim Lincecum was brilliant though as he took a no hitter into the top of the 6th that was broken up by the D'backs pitcher Ian Kennedy of all people. As the bottom of the ninth began, I wondered if I was in for an extra-innings treat my first time in the box as the game remained scoreless throughout. that is until Cody Ross came up with another walk off win for the Giants in the bottom of the ninth, the team's third walk off win in their last four games (luckily I saw the other two with my sister at AT&T the previous weekend as well). The crowd went wild, the writers grabbed their notebooks and headed out towards the clubhouse, so I followed suit and did the same.
When I got to the ground floor it was obvious I wasn't getting in to the clubhouse, my credential did not allow it. But the highlights of my night were still to come. I turned a corner in the Tunnel under the stadium and ran into Giants General Manager Brian Sabean, decked out in his uniform of all black with his leather jacket. I got the pleasure of shaking his hand and told him thank you for all his hard work and everything he has done for the team. The best part was I shook the hand that he had his World Series Ring on, so I actually got to touch it and see it in the flesh; and yes, it's much more impressive in real life.
I watched the players exit the field and enter the clubhouse (though I couldn't enter), then decided to head out to get to finishing my recap of the game. I was then greeted with the icing on the cake of the night as I had the great honor to see Willie McCovey in the tunnel, and I made sure to stop and pay my respects. I thanked him for all he has done for the Giants organization and Giants fans around the globe. He was more than happy to greet me even as he was in a hurry to exit the stadium, so I made sure I didn't keep him. He went on his way and I kept walking with a giant grin on my face (no pun intended).
From the start of the day not thinking I was going to get into the Park, to watching the Giants walk off for another victory, to meeting 'celebrities' and legends like Willie McCovey, it was nothing like I had expected but wouldn't trade the experience for anything. It was most definitely worth it.
I hopefully will get the chance to do it again, but nothing will ever compare to my first time in the San Francisco Giants press box.
It wasn't easy, but it was more than worth it.