Bumgarner's ride highlights Giants' flag raising
World Series MVP delivers banner via horseback to three-title teammates
SAN FRANCISCO -- It was the last, lingering, unfulfilled moment of an otherwise fulfilling year, and the Giants gave it to an AT&T Park crowd Monday.
Perpetuating his image as a rawhide-tough rancher who happens to throw baseballs wickedly, Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner clambered atop a San Francisco Mounted Police horse to relay the 2014 World Series championship banner to a collection of teammates. That group -- consisting of six of the nine Giants who played for each team that won three World Series in the past five years -- then climbed into the stands to raise a banner up a pole matching the height of the American flag.
Escorted by manager Bruce Bochy and serenaded by the Marshall Tucker Band playing "Fire on the Mountain," Bumgarner mounted one of the three steeds waiting in left field and rode it slowly along the warning track toward center field. It recalled last year's post-World Series parade in downtown San Francisco, when Bumgarner expressed an interest in riding a horse along Market Street. Fearing the possibility of Bumgarner's horse getting spooked and tossing the Giants postseason hero to the cement, San Francisco police chief Greg Suhr gently but firmly denied Bumgarner's request.
But Bumgarner, as well as the legion of fans who wanted to see him sit tall in the saddle, finally got his wish before the Giants' home opener.
"I could probably say I'll never get a chance to do that again," Bumgarner said. "I don't know if anybody's ever done that before or not, but it was pretty interesting and it was fun to do before the fans here at home."
Bumgarner added that though he had discussed his equestrian cameo with Giants officials planning the ceremony, "I didn't really know what we were going to do until we got out there."
Giants president Larry Baer credited members of the organization's front office, including senior vice president of business operations Mario Alioto, senior vice president of communications Staci Slaughter and director of digital media Bryan Srabian, for their inventiveness in orchestrating such ceremonies -- particularly since they've been repeated in recent years.
"They challenge themselves to be creative and make the take-home value for the fan and the player very high," Baer said.
Bumgarner's brief ride served as a prelude to the crowning moment. Into the stands strode three-time Series winners Jeremy Affeldt, Matt Cain, Santiago Casilla, Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo to hoist the hard-earned flag. The other members of the three-ring club were Bumgarner, who opted to stay back; Pablo Sandoval, who's playing for Boston; and Buster Posey, who was warming up Giants starter Chris Heston in the bullpen.
Posey did help launch the festivities by carrying one of the World Series trophies as the Giants entered the ballpark through center field before their pregame introductions. He and Lincecum, who carried another trophy, flanked Bochy, who clutched the 2014 version.
Ceremonial first pitches were thrown by the daughters of the late Lon Simmons -- Robin, Cindy, Lisa and Kelsey. The ceremony punctuated a tribute to Simmons, the popular broadcaster who died April 5 at age 91. Giants players will honor Simmons this season by wearing a patch on the left sleeves of their jerseys inscribed simply, "Lon."