|Chronological Tour: Stop 192|
The home plate entrance (the Willie Mays Gate), Sep-2000.
Stadium interior, from the outfield concourse.
From behind the plate on the View level, Oakland and the hills beyond are visible.
For my first game, during Labor Day weekend in 2000, I walked in when the gates opened, giving me time for a stroll around the lower concourse. The outfield at Pac Bell has, beyond the left-field bleachers, a “Coca-Cola Fan Lot” which includes a big slide (for kids of all ages, as long as they’re 42” tall) down the middle of a giant Coke bottle, as well as a few other little attractions, and the Big Glove, which I guess is designed as a target for the Mark McGwires of the world. Going around to right, one finds an out-of-service Municipal Railway cable car, complete with bell to be rung by whoever boards it (and they select a “guest ringer” to ring its bell at the end of each inning in which the Giants score). Added to the usual warnings on the cable car are the words “No Dodger fans”.
Continuing towards right field, it became evident that fans in that corner are closer to the action than nearly anywhere else (with the possible exceptions of Fenway’s Pesky Pole and the line at the model of Yankee Stadium that closed in 2008). Thanks to the odd lay of the land, with the park built up against an inlet now known as McCovey’s Cove, the outfield distance drops from 421 feet in right center all the way down to 306 feet down the line. This also results in the right-field stands stopping short at the Third Street bridge, while the third-base stands hook around a little into fair territory.
I headed upstairs to watch the game from the View level, and while I was disappointed with the significantly slimmer variety of concessions up there, I did find the level meeting its advertising hype: The view from this level is spectacular, possibly the best view in the majors today. Instead of city buildings, parking lots, railyards, or warehouses, visitors here get to look out upon the majesty of San Francisco Bay. The skies cleared and the temperature rose before game time (I doffed my sweatshirt and let myself get sunburned), providing a clear look at boats on the bay, the city of Oakland, and the mountains beyond. Even the Fan Lot didn’t prove distracting, at least from the upper deck.
This well-designed park, in a beautiful setting, vaulted to No. 3 on my list of current parks, still behind Fenway and Wrigley, but ahead of Camden Yards. In 2001, PNC Park in Pittsburgh became a strong challenger as well.
On my 2009 visit, I found egress from the park to be problematical. This has become an issue at a lot of newer parks; I had the same problem at Citi Field in Flushing, N.Y., at the end of a game there.
In 2004, SBC Communications, the owner of Pacific Bell, retired the Pac Bell name and the stadium became known as SBC Park. Then in 2006, after SBC bought AT&T and assumed the venerable phone company’s name, the stadium became AT&T Park.
The stadium was witness to history in August 2007, when outfielder Barry Bonds established the career home run record for Major League Baseball. His 756th career round-tripper landed not over the short right-field porch, but just to the right of center field, in one of the deepest parts of the yard.
The facility has also played host to some football, as a team in the short-lived XFL played here and a college football bowl game has been staged here as well.
|436||Sat 2-Sep-2000||National||MLB||SAN FRANCISCO 13, Chi Cubs 2|
|1024||Fri 28-Aug-2009||National||MLB||SAN FRANCISCO 2, Colorado 0|