Sam

Posts Tagged ‘Candlestick Park’

The lost art of fan mail

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2011 at 6:32 am

I was looking through my photos the other day and came across this picture of Willie Mays reading fan mail between games of a doubleheader sometime back in the mid-1960s. I think this picture says so much about how the game has changed. Writing fan-mail is a lost art for 10 and 11 year old kids nowadays. Indeed, the very term “fan mail” seems archaic when I use it here. I imagine that if a kid nowadays wants to send a message to a player they do so via Facebook or twitter, or one of the other bloated, solipsistic social media outlets. And you wonder if a player received a letter, would they even read it? Probably not. Players nowadays are far too wealthy and their time far too valuable to take the time to acknowledge individual messages from admiring fans. Can you imagine Alex Rodriguez on the trainers table at Yankee Stadium reading fan mail as Mays is here ? I certainly can’t.

But back in Willie Mays’ day players read letters and answered them. The expression on Mays’ face says it all: the game had humanitas back then.

Boy, how times have changed.

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San Francisco was once a good baseball town.

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2010 at 8:56 pm

There was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle a few days ago about the insanely astronomical prices of World Series tickets. According to the article prices on one popular website tickets for Game 1 in San Francisco run from $ 390.00 for standing room up to $ 91,000 for a premium box seat behind the plate or dugout ( yes, folks, that’s ninety-one thousand dollars to watch a ballgame ). On another website mentioned in the article prices were more “reasonable,” starting at about $500 for standing room and going up to about $12,000 for a prime seat. Oddly enough, while the Giants themselves sanction this type of activity on websites like Stub Hub, where season ticket holders sell their tickets usually for two or three times the face value. if you go to AT&T Park you will see signs outside prohibiting scalping. Don’t ever ask the Giants about this and expect to get an answer. I have tried.

San Francisco used to be a fan-friendly baseball town, meaning you could always walk up to the box office on the day of the game and get a ticket. Even for playoff games tickets were available to the general public ( this term no longer means everyone unfortunately but your average working stiff who is making under $40.000 and sending his kids to an under-performing public school because that is all he can afford ) Unfortunately all this has changed since the team moved to AT&T Park. Locating the ballpark on the edge of the Financial District has attracted a new demographic to Giants games: The Yuppie. Because the Yuppie tends not to be knowlegable about baseball and thinks nothing of spending a hundred dollars for a ticket, he/she is targeted by the ticket broker who buys up all the seats. This is the law of supply and demand at its most basic. Yuppie demands, Ticket broker supplies. Price increases.

All the while, the people who really make the city run, the people who have lived in San Francisco most of their lives, the people who have paid taxes and raised their children in San Francisco, the people who spent their childhoods at Candlestick and know who Jim Ray Hart is, the Muni drivers, the clerks at City Hall, the concierges at the city’s hotels are priced out of enjoying a ballgame.

There is something just not right about this.

Turnpike Stadium

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I just finished watching the Rangers conclude their series with the Yankees, on their way to their first World Series. Athough I have rooted for the Yankees for years I find myself indifferent to their fortunes now – since they have moved into the new “Yankee Stadium.” By the fourth or fifth inning today I found myself rooting for Texas, a strange phenomena in itself. I mean I don’t even like the Rangers, one reason being that the stadium they play in is a claustrophobic monument to bad architecture. It looks more like a set at the Grand Ole Opry than a baseball park. I cringe to think that the World Series will be played there.

The old Arlington Stadium, on the other hand, seemed like a nice place to watch a game. It was built in 1965 as Turnpike Stadium and was similar to other Modernist ballparks of the era e.g. Candlestick Park , Dodger Stadium, the Oakland Coliseum. The open design of these stadiums lent itself to introspection. Between pitches you would often find yourself looking into the blue void beyond the outfield thinking of nothing in particular, maybe a distant memory from your childhood, or a time when you saw Mickey Mantle play or maybe just something as mundane as the new AC Delco battery in your car.  In this sense, the design of ballparks like Arlington Stadium, underscored baseball’s nature as a quiet, reflective game.

Unfortunately, parks nowadays, like the new Rangers stadium, are anything but meditative. Your senses are bombarded from the minute you enter the gate. All the concession stands have TV monitors, the radio broadcast is audible in the bathrooms and your ears are assualted with rock music between every batter.

Silence is no longer golden. Apparently, it is now bad business.

Why I don’t like the Giants

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I am from the Bay Area where I grew up a Giants fan. In fact, if I had to name one sports team that informed my childhood it would be the San Francisco Giants. I love to recall those great Giants teams of the late 60s and early 70s – with Mays, McCovey, Marichal et al. as well as the Giants of the early 80s with Jack Clark, Greg Minton Darrell Evans et al. I still wear my 1965 Giants hat as if it were a religious artifact. Paradoxically, however, I root against the team that now that plays at ATT Park. People are puzzled by this. My reasons, however, are as follows:

1.) The Giants have turned their back on tradition. Of the three original NY teams, only the Giants wear uniforms different from those they wore in NY. The Dodgers and Yankees wear the same uniforms in 2010 that they wore in 1960. The Giants,on the other hand, have changed their uniform style at least five times since moving to San Francisco. For years fans clamoured for the team to bring back the the uniforms of the Mays, McCovey & Marichal era.  When the ownership changed hands in 1993, the marketing dept said they were bringing back the old uniforms but what we got, and what the Giants still wear 17 years later, is a bastardization of that classic 60s look.  The lettering on the road uniform is too small and on the home uniform too large.  Why they just couldn’t replicate every detail of  the old uniforms, as the Yanks and Dodgers do,  I have no idea.  Stupid.

2.) Neither the Yankees nor the Dodgers have a mascot, obviously aware that such buffoonery is not befitting of their august traditions. The Giants, on the other hand, have pandered to the masses with mascots such as “The Crazy Crab” and “Lou Seal.” Mascots are for expansion teams ( the teams are usually so bad management has to come up with something to entertain the fans) not for time-honoured franchises.

3.) The Giants have no Bob Sheppard, no Vin Scully, no Ross Porter. The Management simply hasn’t seen fit to attach any importance to continuity in the broadcast booth, failing to understand that fans sometimes grow to love a team because of the team’s announcers. Although the team’s current announcers, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper have established themselves with local fans, beloved broadcasters of an earlier era were discarded like empty milk cartons. Once again, management has turned its back on tradition. Sheer stupidity.

4.) Giants fans cheered Barry Bonds as he was being indicted on perjury charges, oblivious to his deep moral flaws and failing to understand that the Giants, as one of the older franchises, have a standard to uphold. Bonds was quite simply a disgrace to a franchise that boasts the great names of McGraw, Mathewson, Hubbell, Ott, Mays, McCovey et al.  But even today Giants mangement and fans embrace him.

5.)  The new breed of Giants fan is a transplant. He has moved to the Bay Area to work in the computer industry where he makes well over 100K a year. His car of choice is a BMW or mini-Cooper and he reads books on Kindle. He is ignorant of the history of franchise and goes to a game just because it has become “the thing to do in San Francisco”. He spends much of his time at the ballpark on his cell phone or waiting in long lines for garlic fries and a gourmet burger. He wears a replica jersey.

If you go to a Giants game nowadays and the guy next to you is a slob with mustard stains on his shirt who knows who Jim Ray Hart is then you have won the lottery. Alas, usually they have never heard of him and you are left sitting there in silence staring at your beer …..and wishing “Lou Seal” would just go away.

Willie Davis 1940-2010

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2010 at 11:54 am

Saw in this morning’s paper that Willie Davis passed away yesterday. Even though I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area a Giants fan, I always liked Willie Davis. Like my idol, Willie Mays, Davis played Centerfield and batted third in the Dodgers lineup. He was svelte and fleet as a gazelle but, unlike Mays, Davis did not generally hit for power.  I remember going to a Giants Dodgers game in 1970 and the memory of Davis’s performance that day is seared into my memory. He was 4-5 with 2 singles, a triple and a home run.  Maybe that is the day I became a Willie Davis fan.  He went on to hit .305 that year and the next year was selected to the NL All Star team, one of two all-star selctions in his career. Still there was something sad about Davis’s career as he never quite fulfilled the promise of his early years and, despite a solid career,  he is probably most rememberd by longtime Dodger fans for his fielding miscues in the 1966 World Series. Davis ended his career in Japan where he became a convert to Buddhism.  Maybe in Buddhism Davis found the tranquillity he was never able to find as a ballplayer. For someone who hangs on to his Willie Davis memory there is serenity in that thought.