By John G. Shinal
Special to the S.F. Examiner
Diehard San Francisco Giants fans have been known to avoid sitting in a stadium section with too many spectators wearing Dodger blue, for reasons that should be obvious.
Starting this week, discriminating San Francisco baseball lovers can now turn up their noses at another group of spectators: the unvaccinated.
On Monday, the team began selling single-game tickets for “vaccinated-only” sections of Oracle Park, starting with this week’s home games, according to the ticketing section of the Giants website.
The move follows a decision by The City’s health department this month to increase the number of seats the Giants can fill in their home park, which like other venues here is still subject to COVID-19 social-distancing rules, up to 50 percent capacity.
The vaccinated sections will allow the team to seat fans closer together than they have so far in April — but only if they can fill the seats.
A higher capacity can’t come soon enough for the club, which has been struggling to fill even open seats this season, despite the team’s success on the field.
As the day began Monday, the Giants had the second-best record in the National League and sat just one game behind the rival Dodgers in the NL West standings.
Even with a new coach — former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler having replaced three-time World Series champion Bruch Bochy last year — one thing hasn’t changed so far this season: pitching is still carrying the club.
The Giants team ERA is 2.94, second-best in the major leagues behind the Padres, who sit two games behind the Giants in the west.
Still, the club is attracting only around 6,000 fans per game – among the lowest number in all of baseball.
At the team’s sunny home opener on the afternoon of April 9, and at a chilly night game against the Marlins on April 24, the stadium appeared near empty. Even the concourses and concession areas, usually packed during a game, were eerily deserted.
It’s a far cry from the packed houses that rocked China Basin with their roars during the glory days of last decade.
Attendance may have been hurt by the fact that fans must show proof of either a full course of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours just to get into the park.
With the new option of sitting in a vaccinated-only section, the Giants are hoping to boost those numbers.
Fans who prefer to show a test result, rather than a vaccination record, can buy socially-distanced tickets for May games beginning this Friday, April 30, through the Giants own web site.