The Giants opened their season on Monday hundreds of miles away, but more than a thousand fans still lined up, some in the rain, to enter AT&T Park and watch their team in Phoenix from television screens and the huge scoreboard.
Juan Vasquez, clad in Giants gear, claimed he and a friend were the first to wait at Willie Mays Plaza for the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“We were the first ones here at 6:30 a.m. Everybody else got here at 7 or 8,” he said. “We were just coming back and forth, back and forth from the car because it was raining really bad out here.”
By the time the ballpark gates opened at 5:30 p.m. for the free viewing party, the rain had tapered off. The first 3,000 fans received a Giants pennant while the first 5,000 got free hot dogs and cheer cards. At 7 p.m. — 20 minutes after first pitch — ballpark staff was still handing all the promotional items out. The attendance was 1,399 at that time, Guest Services Supervisor Mardina Graham said.
“If it wasn’t raining, we figured we would have more. The rain put a wrench on things,” she said. “But people were standing in the rain, which is not what I would have expected for wet seats.”
San Jose siblings Daphne and Mart Purisima took full advantage of the free event, choosing premium field club seats, which an usher wiped dry for them. They enjoyed a few beers and garlic fries on the brick wall, the only thing between them and the field.
“It’s the norm, it’s what you get when you come here,” Mart Purisima, 30, said of the ballpark snacks. “I wish the opener was here in San Francisco, but it’s good they have this facility open. It gets the fans excited about the season.”
Behind them, a sea of seats was empty. Most fans watched from under the upper deck, where the seats were dry.
Some fans cheered as they watched All-Star Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, 24, on the mound for his first Opening Day start.
Pacifica resident Martin Ganibi, 21, said Bumgarner is his favorite player because “he’s one of our aces and top pitchers in baseball, also homegrown with the Giants.”
The Giants finished tied for third in the NL West last season, behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Diamondbacks, a disappointment for fans after winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012.
“I’m hoping that because it’s an even year, maybe that will play out to another title,” Manteca resident Elisabeth Jimenez, 42, said. “If not, close to one.”