‘Knothole gang’ lining up for free viewing of Giants, World Series

Eric Risberg/APFans watch batting practice from the free area behind the outfield before Game 1 of baseball's World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers.

They’re teens skipping school and adults driving through the night to line up before dawn in soggy San Francisco — all for a chance to watch a few innings of the World Series for free.

The die-hard fans are known as the “knothole gang,” a group prepared to endure all sorts of discomfort for their Giants, just as they did at AT&T Park in 2010 when the team battled the Texas Rangers, and again in September and through the playoffs.

Early Wednesday, the fans began lining up again, and the queue kept on growing as game time approached.

From the park’s “knothole,” the lucky ones share the same vantage point as Giants right fielder Hunter Pence, peering through a chain-link fence enclosing four viewing portals stretching about 100 feet under the right-field stands. They’ll shake the fence and scream insults at the opposing right fielder, who stands just a few feet from them.

There is no other place like it in the major leagues. The Giants’ ballpark is the only stadium in the country with the feature, but there are rules: No chairs, dogs or drinking. And every three innings, stadium security rotates people in and out. Security guards allow about 75 fans into the area for each shift.

But for those who lined up 12 hours or more before the first pitch, the price was right.

“I could afford maybe one ticket, but not a ticket for everyone,” said Tony Bryson, 44, who traveled from Sacramento with his two sons and three of their friends to secure a guaranteed spot in the viewing area. They arrived around 7 a.m. and bundled up against the cold and rain of the early morning.

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