Thousands of fans flock to celebrate Giants' title
Supporters ignore rain, cheer on players, who travel on double-decker buses
SAN FRANCISCO -- For the third time in five seasons, the streets of the City by the Bay were sparkling with orange and teeming with love for the World Series-champion Giants, the cheers and screams flowing from McCovey Cove to City Hall and culminating with a celebration before hundreds of thousands of fans Friday. This time, Mother Nature joined the party early, raining tears of joy on the unflinching faithful wearing orange and black for another Halloween baseball bash.
The Giants' World Series victory parade had all the sights and sounds and, yes, even aromas of another great San Francisco-style party, just like in 2010 and '12 -- making even more special the '14 edition of the annual rite reserved exclusively for champions, the right to have the last cheers of the baseball season.
There wasn't a person on the stage nor in the crowd who didn't know just how special this particular gathering was. No National League team since the 1942-46 St. Louis Cardinals had won three World Series titles in five seasons until this era of Giants dominance, determination and ... what's that other word that starts with the letter D?
"Everybody's kicking around the word dynasty," general manager Brian Sabean, the architect of this trilogy of titles, told the crowd. "I'm going to throw this out to you: It doesn't make any difference what anybody else says. We're our own dynasty."
And, with that, the thousands of fans who waited for hours through rain and stood and watched the parade on big-screen video cheered wildly -- again. They got loud like they did at any inkling at all of the presence of double-MVP Madison Bumgarner, or mentions of their manager, Bruce Bochy, being on his way to Cooperstown, or of fan favorites for all these World Series seasons -- Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and, sure, star-crossed stars Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, too.
"I'm proud to stand next to three trophies, and I'm proud to stand up here next to all these gentlemen behind me who played their hearts out to win this ring," said veteran reliever Jeremy Affeldt, one of nine players on all three World Series winners. "The front office, our families, our fans, we can all wear this shirt, and our shirt is what a dynasty wears. It says, 'Kiss the Ring.' That's what we wear, and I'm proud of it."
That Mother Nature joined in the chorus this year perhaps is fitting, too. She's the one who makes the fog so haunting and the hills so green and the orange of the Golden Gate Bridge stand out as such a unique national treasure. That orange was reflected all over town, from AT&T Park to Civic Center Plaza, and it was reflected in the throngs of people who didn't let a little wet stuff get in the way of cheering their baseball heroes.
"We've been praying for rain and parades a long time, and now we get them on the same day," said broadcaster Mike Krukow, who joined with partner Duane Kuiper in stirring up some loud audience participation. "How cool is that?"
After showers, heavy at times through the morning and during the parade itself, the Giants and their fans were determined to parade all over the rain. This year's slow dance on a wet track had floats and oversized mug shots dancing through the streets, plus some standards for these Giants events -- trolley cars and double-decker buses. There was professional wrestler Daniel Bryan -- whose "Yes! Yes! Yes!" became a team mantra -- and singer Steve Perry, who took the mic at home games as fans sang "Don't Stop Believin'" in the eighth inning. The players went two-by-two through the streets, sharing a ride with a teammate and family members through a love fest that lasted about two hours on the road and another two on the steps of City Hall.
There, many dignitaries arrived before the players, from U.S. congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to Mayor Ed Lee. And then the royalty arrived -- the Giants' uncanny cadre of Hall of Fame players: Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry. Other Giants alumni dotted the dais, including J.T. Snow, Dave Dravecky and Barry Bonds.
Once the program began with PA announcer Renel Brooks Moon emceeing, Lee handed the Key to the City to club president and CEO Larry Baer and Bochy, dedicating another "San Francisco Giants Day" on the steps of his office. Lee also stirred up some chants in the crowd about the team's biggest offseason issue, asking a series of questions to the crowd, ending with: "As mayor, is there anything I can do to keep the Panda in San Francisco?" The fans responded with "Re-sign Pa-blo!" in the same tenor as "Let's go Gi-ants!"
Hall of Fame broadcaster Jon Miller introduced the players on the championship roster in numerical order, each coming out of City Hall to cheers. After one player was skipped for obvious reasons, the last man left was No. 40 -- Bumgarner -- arriving to thunderous cheers from the crowd. From there, it was a loving tribute to the team, and that included words from their skipper.
"They don't care if their backs are to the wall, they don't care if the odds are against them, they come out to play for you and they play for each other," Bochy said. "I want to tell them in front of all you guys, the fans, thanks for their warrior spirit."
It was a thought that clearly resonated throughout the organization and throughout the community, the heartbeat of a franchise that has kept alive a trend of winning every other year.
"For those of you who are here from out of town, just want to let you know this little gathering is something we do on Halloween in San Francisco every two years," Baer said. "But I want to suggest something. Why don't we change it up? Why don't we go out of order and book this plaza for October 2015?"
The cheers for that concept raised to the heavens, and they just kept coming as players came to the microphone to share their thoughts. They hit a crescendo with the arrival of the super-charged battery of Bumgarner and Posey -- who knew he'd need to hand the microphone over to Hunter Pence, the team's emotional leader and sometimes off-color preacher.
"Hunter, you see those cameras right there? That probably means live TV, so choose your words wisely," Posey said.
Pence stuck with the three words that became the team's mantra, asking the crowd to respond when he mentioned Bumgarner, re-signing Panda, Brandon Crawford's curly hair and one more idea that brought the biggest response.
"Can we do it again?"
"Yes! Yes! Yes!"
"That's what I'm talking about, San Francisco!" Pence preached, and not a soul basking in a third party in five seasons doubted that it might be true.