Giants' home opener to include flag raising, Simmons tribute
San Francisco set to celebrate third World Series title in five years
SAN DIEGO -- In one way or another, the Giants' home opener Monday at AT&T Park against the Colorado Rockies promises to be an emotional experience for everybody -- from players to fans, for young and old.
The Giants will raise their 2014 World Series champions banner, which proved to be a stirring event when they did so following their 2010 and 2012 titles. The club won't divulge details of the ceremony, but if it's anything like the previous ones, it'll be dramatic.
Popular broadcaster Lon Simmons, who died April 5 at age 91, also will be honored before the game. Along with his partner, Russ Hodges, Simmons helped shape the public's perception of the Giants as they established themselves in Northern California following the franchise's move from New York to San Francisco in 1958.
Though some baseball people regard such pomp and circumstance as a distraction, Giants manager Bruce Bochy believes players will embrace the magic of Opening Day, particularly the banner-raising activities. Enduring the weeklong two-city season-opening trip, Bochy said, should enhance the Giants' appreciation for playing at AT&T Park.
"We're energized by all the festivities," Bochy said Saturday. "It'll make people realize what they did accomplish."
Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 12:45 p.m. PT to be on time for the festivities. Past ceremonies suggest the hoisting of the Series banner will be a star-studded, symbolic and imaginative affair.
In 2011, Giants legend Willie Mays emerged from the dugout to bring the folded banner to Bochy, who started a chain in which the banner was passed from player to player. That transfer stopped when the player at the end of the line, relief ace Brian Wilson, hustled to the right-center-field stands to raise the flag.
Two years later, the banner was unfurled across the bow of a fire boat that slowly proceeded across McCovey Cove to the area below the walkway parallel to the right-field stands. A lucky crew of lifelong Giants fans delivered the banner to Bochy, who ceded the honor of raising the banner to outfielders Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan and right-handers Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Sergio Romo -- a mixture of homegrown players and trade acquisitions, organizational veterans and newcomers.
There's no telling how the Giants will honor Simmons, though the ceremony certainly will include a video tribute that will feature his descriptions of exciting Giants moments, all delivered in his rich baritone. Family members are likely to be present, as well as members of Simmons' extended family -- some of the many ballplayers he befriended during his stints with the club (1958-73, 1976-78 and 1996-2002).
Additionally, longtime Giants beat writer Nick Peters, who died at 75 on March 23, will be remembered in a press-box ceremony. The press-row seat that Peters occupied will be left vacant on Opening Day in his honor.