“Sometimes you have to watch someone else love something before you can love it yourself.” -Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz)
The park lights shimmered across the Bay as over forty thousand fans buzzed into AT&T Park. The chilly San Francisco evening wrapped around my brother, dad and I. That particular night, the Giants were honoring outfielders throughout the years. The bases quickly filled with the best of the best until there was only one spot left. I turned to my dad and whispered, “It’s going to be Barry.” He shook his head and whispered back, “It’s going to be Willie.” We bantered back and forth for a bit, and then the center field wall opened up. And Willie Mays the Say Hey Kid walked out. The park exploded in a single second, and then the jumbo-tron cut to left field as Barry Bonds floated out to meet his god-father. Tears formed in my eyes as they took the final spot together. I turned to my dad and felt his heart exploding just as mine was.
Growing up in the East Bay, being a San Francisco Giants fan was a rite of passage. My grandmother was born and raised in San Francisco and was a Seals fan before the Giants came to San Francisco in 1958. She passed her love of baseball onto my dad, and he passed it onto me. I would sit in my dad’s office for hours looking at all of his Giants memorabilia and staring at his picture of Willie McCovey. Mostly, I watched him. I watched the way that he would watch a game on television, the way he was at the park, the way that he would listen to KNBR 680 The Sports Leader, the way that he would read the sports section in the morning paper, and even the way that he talked about our Giants. Without even realizing it, I was listening to KNBR every morning, listening to every game, and falling deeply in love with the game of baseball, and the San Francisco Giants. I fell in love with something that maybe would not have meant so much to me if it did not mean something to my dad. I feel so incredibly lucky to love what my father loved, and what his mother loved before him. So, for all the home runs that I saw Barry Bonds hit into McCovey Cove, every time that we beat L.A., and the torture that lead us to being the 2010 World Champions, it would not mean the same to me if I had not seen my dad’s vibrant passion for his team from the city by the Bay. And I am so glad that I did.