On Wednesday morning I awoke early to catch the train for San Francisco to partake in what knew would be an epic parade that I would one day tell my grandkids about. Two days earlier the Giants had won their first World Series since moving to San Francisco in 1958, and mayor Gavin Newsome promised a ticker tape parade the likes of which we had never seen before.
Reports were that the number of people attending would be in the hundreds of thousands, so I wasn’t too surprised that there were at least 50 people at the Lawrence Train Station decked out in Giants gear. I hopped on found a seat on the half-full train. Soon after, when the train arrived at Mountain View, hundreds more fans boarded the train and filled the aisles. Every stop, a steady stream of fans hopped on the train until at the Redwood City Station, the conductor told people they could no longer board the train and they would have to wait for the next one. In all my years of riding the train I have never seen conductors turn people away. Poor commuters had to swim their way through a sea of Giants colors to get to the doors to disembark. I was very thankful that I had gotten a seat as standing for entire trip, which took twice as long as the expected hour long ride should have been, would have been quite unpleasant.
When we eventually arrived in SF, hordes of people from not only our train, but the two following trains that had caught up with us all filled the streets as I made my way to Market Street. The scene at Market Street was quite overwhelming – people lined the streets at least 6 people deep for as far as the eye could see and mobs of people crossed the street with complete disregard for traffic, which had to inch its way through the pedestrians.
I made my way down several blocks before realizing I wouldn’t find my dream spot to watch the parade and settled in behind some smaller people that I could see over fairly well. As we all waited for the parade to arrive, some brave people provided some entertainment for the crowd. In an effort to find a better view, they began scaling buildings and sitting on awnings, scaffolding, climbing trees, pay toilets, traffic lights and lamp posts. The crowd watched in suspense as person after person climbed up on a very unstable ledge and waited for someone to fall and seriously injure themselves.
The police saw this as well, but could do little about it with an immovable sea of people between them and those putting themselves in danger. Fortunately, no one fell or got hurt, although I didn’t stick around to see them try to get down.
The Berkeley Marching Band made its way to my location around 11:30.
They were followed by the Giants broadcast teams, most notably Kruk and Kuip, and the voice of the Giants, Jon Miller.
A hundred or so front office workers walked by, giving us a glimpse of all those who worked behind the scenes to help make the Giants champions.
Waves of sponsor floats came by with employees and their families. Many floats were blasting “Don’t Stop Believing”, which seemed to be our official theme song for the post season.
Dianne Dwyer came by on the NBC Bay Area float and pumped up the crowd.
San Francisco Mayor and newly elected Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsome drove by with his wife and kids.
Then, out of nowhere, The Say Hey Kid, the greatest Giant of them all, Willie Mays passed by and I snapped as many photos as I could while no one around me seemed to notice.
It was a beautiful, but surprisingly hot day. That coupled with the body heat of a few hundred thousand people, and poor Lou Seal must have been exhausted by the time he reached us. He just relaxed and chugged water as he drove by.
The coaches and training staff came by on trolleys with their families. My favorite, and easily the best pitching coach around, Dave Righetti seen here.
A roar from the crowd told us something good was coming as we all craned our necks to see what it was.
It was the Giant’s manager Bruce Bochy carrying the pinnacle of baseball achievement, the Commissioner’s Trophy in his lap.
Then, the moment we were all waiting for arrived, the players came by in trollies, each transported two players and their families. The crowds roared “Let’s go Giants!” and “U…Ribe!” while people held up “Marry Me Timmy”, “Cody Ross for Governor” and “Don’t Mess with SF” signs.
Andres Torres, who got off the trolley and greeted the fans
Pat Burrell, fellow Bellarmine alum
Brian Wilson, sadly without The Machine in his trolley
Lastly, World Series MVP Edgar Renteria
Many of the players were being interviewed by radio and tv reporters, which got on my nerves – they’re not here to give you an interview, they’re here to be adored by us, don’t interrupt our adoration by asking dumb questions like “How awesome is this?” What do you think they’re going to say, “meh, this kind of sucks, wish I was at home watching tv”? No, it’s obviously really awesome, now get the microphone out of his face and go sit down, you’re not winning any Pulitzer Prizes for “Yea, this is awesome”.
Even with the parade still going, once Renteria passed by everyone made a mad dash for Civic Center Plaza where the ceremony would take place.
The parade wasn’t quite as “ticker tape” as the mayor had led me to believe. I imagined the entire city showing up, people hanging out of windows, throwing confetti, however there was no confetti or even much of a mess left behind where I viewed the parade. Only later, when I watched the parade on TV did I see the confetti – it was only at the very beginning of the route. Even without the ticker tape and confetti, the parade was truly amazing – a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I’ll surely be telling my grandkids about it. San Francisco can only win its first World Series Championship once, and I was there for the celebration.