Baseball fans flock to San Francisco to watch World Baseball Classic

Anna Latino/Special to the S.F. ExaminerFans of the Puerto Rico national team converge at AT&T Park on Sunday for a match against Japan in the World Baseball Classic semifinals Sunday.

Anna Latino/Special to the S.F. ExaminerFans of the Puerto Rico national team converge at AT&T Park on Sunday for a match against Japan in the World Baseball Classic semifinals Sunday.

San Francisco is indisputably a Giants town.

But Sunday night, baseball fans took over the Orange and Black’s territory for a semifinal game in the World Baseball Classic. Though the Giants didn’t take the field, fan favorite Angel Pagan and his Puerto Rico team helped bring fans to AT&T Park weeks before Opening Day.

“I’m a baseball fan,” said Manny Lopez, 48, of San Francisco. “I’ve been late to work for the Little League World Series.”

Lopez and his brother Fernando were at AT&T Park to root on Pagan because he’s a Giants player, but the brothers were wearing a Montreal Expos and Mexico baseball jersey, respectively, to show that even though they are family there can be tension. The jersey choice referenced the brawl between Canada and Mexico earlier in the tournament.

“Sometimes countries can fight too,” he said.

Lopez was among thousands of fans who came out Sunday to watch Puerto Rico take on defending champion Japan.

Though AT&T Park is typically a sea of orange, Sunday’s game brought more of the white, red and blue representing the competing countries’ colors. Flags from both sides were flown on wooden sticks, wrapped around torsos and even painted on faces.

Chris Pagan, 28, of Brentwood held a Puerto Rico flag and even wore the country’s jersey with “Pagan” across the back. But don’t be fooled: This Pagan is an Oakland A’s fan. He, along with his brother and father, were at the ballpark Sunday to support their heritage.

“Japan is a tough team; they’ve won two” titles, Chris Pagan said. “Anything could happen.”

Pagan’s brother and father are Giants fans, which leads to interesting baseball seasons in the household.

For fan Brian Shinn, 54, Japan is still the team to beat.

“We’ve won two already,” he said.

Shinn flew in from Denver to see all three games, and he’s hoping for a three-peat.

AT&T Park will host the second semifinal tonight between the Netherlands and Dominican Republic at 6 p.m.

Hensley Meulens, the Giants’ hitting coach, is managing team Netherlands.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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