I’ve been going to FanFest for the last six years or so. The first year I went just happened to be the last year the Giants held FanFest inside Pier 48. Last year, after arriving at the ballpark before it opened to the general public (aka people like me) and finding a line that already snaked all the way around Lot A, I found myself getting nostalgic for the old FanFests at Pier 48, where you could navigate the whole thing freely without crowds and the audience at the Q&A stage consisted of a few people sitting on a small setup of bleachers. The nostalgia only got stronger as I waited in the never ending line, only to cross the Lefty O’Doul Bridge and discover that the line I’d been waiting in for hours didn’t actually go anywhere. By that point, I walked up to the crowd at Willie Mays Plaza, only to find out that they weren’t letting people into the park. Those of us outside could keep waiting, but there was no way to know if or when they’d let us inside. At this point, FanFest was already half over. Feeling just a wee bit disappointed in how the whole crowd situation was handled, I decided to leave.
My 2011 FanFest experience consisted of waiting in line for hours and taking one picture of the Willie Mays statue. Ever since I began going to FanFest, I’ve looked forward to the event, because being able to go to the ballpark and see all of the players reminds me that baseball is finally coming back after a long winter. I didn’t have that last year, and the Giants had a terribly disappointing season filled with injuries. Coincidence? Well, yeah, probably, but I’m still happy that my FanFest experience went a whole lot more smoothly this year.
My favorite parts of FanFest every year have always been the Q&A sessions on the club level, so as soon as I got inside of the ballpark, I headed up there. When I arrived at the Q&A stage, the crowd was still pretty small, so I found myself a spot to stand with a good view of the stage as I listened to Giants broadcasters, Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper, and Jon Miller. I’ve missed these guys.
The next session after the Giants broadcasters (minus David B. Flemming, who was “on assignment”) was Jeremy Affeldt, Nate Schierholtz, and Javier Lopez. Be sure to check out Javier Lopez’s snazzy new hairdo.
By this point, the crowd had gotten pretty big, and since I still had a good spot, I decided to stay where I was. Not that I could have moved if I wanted to. With Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey heading in with Aubrey Huff and Brian Sabean (who wondered out loud why he’d been put on stage with the other guys), people were packed in around the stage. It’s here that I have to give props to KNBR’s Kate Scott for handling the crowd and dealing with the shrieking teenage girls who kept interrupting people while they were talking. My ears thank her.
Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Vogelsong were on the next panel.
After sitting, or well, standing through four panels, I decided I really couldn’t skip the last one. MATT. CAIN. And Sergio Romo and Brandon Crawford. I couldn’t miss that.
All in all, it was a fun day at the yard (much better than last year, since I was able to get into the ballpark and all), and I can’t wait to go back in April for the home opener.