When the Giants play their first home game against the Kansas City Royals of this World Series tonight, a giant fan will be missing from the stands.
There is no doubt among those who knew her that Alexis Busch, a former Giants bat girl and lifelong baseball champion, would have attended all three home games of the Giants' third World Series in five years if she had lived to see it. And probably every game in Kansas City, too, her father Corey Busch, the team's executive vice president for 13 years, said with a fond chuckle.
“Wild horses would not have kept her away,” he added.
When he arrives at AT&T Park to watch the game today, Corey Busch will make a toast in honor of his daughter. It's a ritual he practices prior to every game he has attended since Alex died in a sailing crash near the Farallon Islands 2½ years ago, the same year the Giants won their second championship in three years.
“Alex would be absolutely ecstatic with this third opportunity to win the World Series,” her longtime boyfriend Nick Vos said. “She had Giants baseball running through her blood since the day she was born.”
Five sailors, including Alex, died after large waves capsized their vessel Low Speed Chase during a yacht race on April 14, 2012. Vos and two others survived the crash.
Alex, who would have turned 29 in August, attended her first Giants game when she was 2 weeks old, and spent many childhood weekends at Candlestick Park with her older brother, Chris Busch.
“She kind of grew up at Candlestick and just got a love for the game,” her father said. “Even though she was only about 7 years old when I left the Giants [in 1992], her passion for baseball just grew and grew over the years and it became a major part of her life.”
But it was AT&T Park that became Alex's baseball home.
In 2000, for his daughter's 15th birthday, Corey Busch arranged for a life-changing present: He called up then-manager Dusty Baker and asked if Alex could work as their bat girl for a game.
“The Giants won that game, and the players all took a liking to her,” Corey Busch recalled. “They all said, 'You gotta come back tomorrow,' so she did.”
Alex continued working with the team in the 2001 season as well, becoming the first full-time Major League Baseball bat girl in history. When former player Barry Bonds hit his 500th home run that year, Alex was the sole person to greet him at home plate.
“It's impossible to go to that ballpark for us and not feel her presence. She'll be right there rooting along with us,” Corey Busch said of today's game.
Her father added that he's touched that Alex's memory is so widely recognized in the Series.
“In 2012, during that entire postseason run, I would get texts from people all the time talking about how they felt Alex's spirit,” Corey Busch said. “I'm getting them this year too.”
As an adult Alex's love of baseball only grew. She played women's baseball in California and Australia, and in 2009 received a degree from the University of San Francisco Graduate School of Sports Management.
Alex's brother Chris is traveling in London this weekend, where the Giants' home games don't begin until after midnight, though he said he would try to stay up and watch them.
But that's not really the same as watching the games in their San Francisco hometown, noted Vos, who is still close with Alex's family.
“Alex would be giving him a lot of grief,” he joked.