Giants fans brimming with Panda love after historic showing in World Series

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerWaiting for more wins: Exuberant fans whip their rally flags in the air Thursday at Game 2

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerWaiting for more wins: Exuberant fans whip their rally flags in the air Thursday at Game 2

“Panda-monium” is no longer just an expression. At AT&T Park, it embodies Giants fans.

On Thursday night at Game 2 of the World Series, thousands of people donned white or orange panda hats or jerseys to honor and celebrate Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval’s dominance over the Detroit Tigers the night before.

Sandoval’s three home runs helped propel the Giants to an 8-3 victory Wednesday night, and as a result fans were elated to show their appreciation by wearing gear related to the third baseman.

Jerry Boberg, 69, was one of those fans. He traveled all the way from McKinleyville in Humboldt County on Thursday to attend his first World Series game. After Wednesday’s performance, Boberg was thrilled to wear Sandoval’s No. 48 jersey.

“Panda is the man-da,” he said. “It was something special.”

Boberg said he’s been a fan of Sandoval since 2008, when he debuted with the Giants. But watching the game Wednesday was magical.

“He’s in an elite crowd,” Boberg said. “Who knew that was going to happen?”

Steve Motz of Fresno also was surprised by Sandoval’s performance in Game 1. As a Detroit Tigers fan, though, he hoped the third baseman would not have a repeat showing Thursday.

But Motz said the bigger surprise from Game 1 was the performance of the Tigers’ ace pitcher Justin Verlander, whom he did not expect to give up three home runs.

“He wasn’t hitting corners [on the plate], just straight down the middle. It was disheartening,” Motz said.

He said his friends, Giants fans, gave him a hard time after the big loss. Before Thursday’s game, Motz said he hoped his team was saving a win for when he was at the ballpark.

Unfortunately for the Tigers fan, that was not the case. The Giants won 2-0. Both teams will travel to Detroit for Game 3 on Saturday.

But on Thursday in The City, fans were still abuzz with Panda love.

For Karla Garcia, Sandoval has grown on her since the 2010 World Series — and Wednesday’s performance only added to that.

“It was historic,” said Garcia, wearing a panda hat, of Sandoval’s Game 1 showing.

Garcia sees the Giants winning the World Series again, but she was unwilling to predict how many games it will take.

Christina Neilsen, 37, of Sunnyvale agreed that Sandoval represented for the Giants in Game 1, but that didn’t stop her from supporting her favorite player Thursday by wearing angel wings and a halo in honor of centerfielder Angel Pagan.

“He’s a class act,” Neilsen said. “But [Wednesday] was thrilling and I hope we win if we keep the momentum going.” 

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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