Hanging out in McCovey Cove for Home Run Derby turned out to be an idea that was all wet. While fans packed the cove in kayaks, canoes, surfboards and rubber boats, all but one of the balls to splash down in the water just behind AT&T Park’s right-field wall were thrown by fans from inside the stadium.
With only three left-handed hitters in the lineup for Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby, the number of balls taking a swim depended mostly upon that trio, but no one had a splash hit that counted. Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers hit a foul ball into the water.
“We’re a bit disappointed,” said Matt Pedersen, 22, a San Francisco State student who was there with his older brother Chris on the portwalk between AT&T Park and McCovey Cove.
Pedersen and his brother said they were upset by the level of security, saying they tried to register a boat to gain access to McCovey Cove but were denied. “What are we, savages? We can’t police ourselves?” Matt Pedersen asked.
He pointed to the fans inside the stadium who lined the back railing and were all facing the cove and the flotilla of kayaks and canoes that clumped together like drunken friends walking home.
“The whole show is what we’re doing out here,” Pedersen said, noting that fans were still having a great time.
In the water, Steve Crisan of Pebble Beach made like an otter and dove out of his kayak for Fielder’s foul ball, but despite the wet clothes, setting sun and resulting long shadows he said it was worth it.
Andrew Hyatt came up from Santa Clara to put his inflatable dinghy in by the Third Street Bridge and called the floating party “absolutely great.”
“[It’s] the best time of my life,” Hyatt said, but alas no balls came his way.
San Francisco police kept the flotilla together by pushing boats away from the wall along the portwalk as rafters held on to gunnels and lines to stay together.
On the portwalk, fans lined up four and five people deep, with many sneaking drinks after the police passed by them. Some fed the boaters in the cove, tossing them food as they would ducks.
There were also some choice words for those wearing Los Angeles Dodgers blue, but in general it was a “family-friendly atmosphere,” said Frank Bojorquez, a 40-year-old Fairfield dad who brought his 14-year-old son, Ethan.
“It’s not as bad as I thought it’d be. I thought it’d be worse,” Stockton’s Chris Ross said of the crowd. The 30-year-old brought a 20-foot net to catch balls as they came over the stadium, but his fishing-wire-screwed-onto-a-painting-pole went unused.