AT&T Park focuses on teenage drinking

Starting this evening, Giants fans may notice authorities stepping up enforcement against a pastime older than baseball itself: underage drinking.

With the tragic death last week of 18-year-old Anthony Giraudo outside of AT&T Park and a jury deliberating in the 2004 ballpark killing of 21-year-old Timothy Griffith, there will be tighter searches at the gates and a keener eye in the parking lot and Caltrain station, according to San Francisco police and a Giants spokeswoman.

While neither case is connected, there are a few parallels. Both killings took place after a heated argument; the participants were either too young or barely old enough to drink; and prosecutors in both cases say drunkenness was a factor.

How much of a role alcohol played in the deaths of the two men may never be completely clear, but police are stepping up enforcement regardless. During the involuntary manslaughter arraignment of Taylor Buckley, a Carlmont High School senior accused of killing Giraudo, the prosecutor noted that one of Buckley’s high school friends was ejected from the game for drunkenness.

The drinking may have begun much earlier on Caltrain, according to police and witnesses. Kitty Clark, a mother who commutes between Belmont and San Francisco, said she was on Caltrain the night of Giraudo’s death as high school students drank on the quick ride to San Francisco.

“They were sauced,” Clark said. “And where did they get all this, looking like the children that they were? Six packs, 12 packs, full bottles of hard liquor and empties rolling up and down the aisle.”

Caltrain prohibits passengers from carrying open containers when traveling after 9 p.m., but alcohol is allowed otherwise. Conductors walk the trains and watch for disturbances, but they’re not allowed to ask for identification, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn said. Instead, conductors radio ahead to report problems to transit police, who are assigned by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department.

“Any time people go to the ballgame, we want them to enjoy themselves,” Dunn said. “Having a beer is part of that experience.”

Having a beer at the ballpark is also part of the experience, said Staci Slaughter, a spokeswoman for the Giants, but not if it comes from outside the ballpark, and especially not if the drinker is under 21 years old.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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