Last night I went to my third Giants game. My first game was miserable. I was freezing cold, I had no idea what was going on and I was sat in front of a teenage girl who kept dropping sweet stuff down my back. When I got home my hair was a tangled mess of cotton candy, slush puppy and caramel corn. I vowed never to return.
But going to the baseball and eating a corn dog is one of those things all of our friends want to do when they come out to visit us. So I’ve now been to three Giants games… I’m practically a veteran fan.
Every time I go to a game I enjoy it more than the last. I’ve come to realize it’s all in the preparation. Now that I’m so experienced in the way of all things Giants I feel compelled to share a few tips for the expat wannabe baseball fan.
Have the full gastronomic experience… or don’t
The AT&T Park is a place to sample all the fast food America has to offer. On our last visit my husband chowed down a hot dog, a cheese steak, a corn dog and churros (fried donut). For the uninitiated a corn dog is a hot dog sausage wrapped in sponge-cake mix… strange, I know. Last night, after the game, he lay on the floor of our living room groaning, ‘God I feel awful, it was definitely the corn dog.’ Hmmm… I think it was more likely the sausage-steak-donut-beer combination, but what do I know? I’m not a doctor.
If you go to the ball game you’ll be dazzled by all the food options in the many stands on your way into the stadium. But don’t get carried away. While you’re sitting down vendors come round selling corn dogs, cotton candy, hot chocolate and more. Waving frantically to get their attention and then passing your money down a line of twenty people in exchange for your snack is all part of the experience.
Buy a hat
They are ridiculously expensive, but you’ll enjoy the whole thing much more if you’re wearing a Giants hat. Trust me. I forgot mine last time and it made me a bit sad.
Wrap up warm
If, like me, you moved out here from the UK, you’ll revel in the gorgeous sunshine that bathes the Bay Area almost everyday. When Californians complain that San Francisco is cold you nod and smile thinking ‘You ain’t seen nothing mate.’ But the ballpark is COLD. Apart from your trip to Tahoe, this is probably the only other time you’ll wear your expensive winter coat from back home.
If like us, you opt for the cheaper seats, it’s quite likely you’ll be several hundred feet up in the air. When the sun goes down and the wind picks up, it’s more than a little chilly. I got a few strange looks at my last game because I was wearing a faux fur leopard print jacket. But I didn’t care – it’s the warmest thing I own and I knew that at 10pm I’d still be snug as a bug in a rug. I’ve noticed that many Giants fans take blankets with them into the stadium in a bid to keep warm, so next time I’ll follow their lead.
Enjoy the view
The AT&T Park is in the most spectacular location. Even if you have no interest in baseball it’s worth going for this alone. Evening games are particularly special because you get to see the sky and the ocean change color as the sun goes down. And once it’s dark it’s fun to watch the flocks of seagulls that circle the park waiting to polish off your half-eaten corn dog.
Listen out for the song
At some point everyone stands up and sings this very endearing song:
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Just buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the Giants,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.
Other highlights are the Kiss cam (where a camera zooms in on couples who then kiss) and the ‘Seal-ebrities of the game’: two die-hard fans who whizz around the stadium in a golf buggy with Lou Seal, the Giants mascot.
Don’t worry, most people don’t have a clue what’s going on
After three visits to the ballpark I still only have a vague understanding of the rules of baseball, which is basically a cross between rounders and cricket. On my last visit I realized that I’m not alone. There were two American couples sat nearby and the men were enthusiastically explaining the nuances of the game to the women.
It’s quite likely you won’t have a clue what’s going on either. So when in doubt, just shout: