By Doug Bruzzone
Special to S.F. Examiner
ORACLE PARK — For all the ceremonies the Giants had planned for Friday’s home opener, the first big ovation came 40 minutes before Renel Brooks-Moon and Jon Miller took the podium to address the crowd. It had been a gray, drizzly morning, but the skies cleared up just after noon, and when the tarp came off the field, the then-small crowd erupted in cheers. After the weather-related uncertainty of the previous few days, with the team giving out hourly rain updates before the game, it was a relief to see that there would be baseball on Opening Day.
Before baseball, though, there were ceremonies. The first honorees were the firefighters from Northern California who battled the Camp Fire over the offseason. The Giants organization recognized them for the work they did in protecting the state, and for their heroism in doing such a dangerous job.
Following the firefighters, the Giants played a short “In Memoriam” video on the new scoreboard, which concluded with former managing general partner Peter Magowan, former manager (and Hall of Famer) Frank Robinson, and longtime Hall of Fame first baseman and Giants legend, Willie McCovey, who all passed away over the offseason.
On what would have been Magowan’s 77th birthday, Mike Krukow read the speech Magowan had prepared for his induction on the Giants Wall of Fame. Magowan’s speech paid tribute to the organization, the staff, the fans, and former manager Dusty Baker. Magowan was proud to have built Oracle Park because it meant Giants fans won’t have to worry about the team moving to another state. Krukow concluded his short, emotional speech by saying simply, “Peter, you will never leave us. Thank you.”
Manager Bruce Bochy, who will retire at the end of the year, threw out the first pitch to Pablo Sandoval. When the Giants came out for the Opening Day tradition of lining up on the third base line, there were large ovations for Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey. But it was Bochy who drew the longest, loudest applause, more than a minute of fans refusing to let him sit down until they had their moment to thank him for the most successful era in Giants history.
Before the game, Bochy said that he hadn’t been thinking much about this being his last year, but added that he does want the team to make a statement.
“Hopefully, this year we do finish on a strong note to where we get a winning culture back here,” he said. “When you manage or you go somewhere, you hopefully leave it in a better place. As I’ve said, this is a very storied franchise. Make it even more storied.”
The final pregame ceremony was a video tribute to McCovey. The video covered McCovey’s entire Giants career, from his rookie season in 1959 to his retirement in 1980. To honor McCovey, first baseman Brandon Belt presented his children and grandchildren with first base at Oracle Park, inscribed with McCovey’s retired number 44.
— According to Bochy, the current outfield configuration of Gerardo Parra, Kevin Pillar, and Steven Duggar could be the best defensive outfield that he’s had since he came to the Giants.