Fair warning: this extremely long post has nothing to do with knitting or crafting and if you are not from Northern California (and especially if you are not from the US or a few other areas in Asia and the American continent) you may have absolutely no interest in what I am about to write. But I am just so incredibly excited about what happened last Friday that I had to share it here.
This post is about something I loved before I knit, and something that at one time I may have been as obsessive about as I am knitting now: baseball. And specifically: the San Francisco Giants.
Some background: Growing up, I was a very girly girl. Main interests included such things as kitties, dolls, playing dress up, and the color pink. But starting at a very early age, I also loved baseball. I don't seem to remember having much interest in playing baseball, but I LOVED THE GIANTS. I loved going to games and watching the Giants and, in particular, 1st baseman, #22, Will Clark. Strangely, I have very vivid memories from the 1987 through 1989 baseball seasons. I remember my dad traveling to Davis when I was about 7, talking to him on the phone, and thinking it was hilarious to ask him "Dad, is it chilly in Davis??" (in reference to Giants outfielder Chili Davis), I remember being devastated when in '87 the Giants lost the playoffs to the St. Louis Cardinals (and, in fact, held a grudge for over a decade and finally felt retribution when the Giants beat the Cardinals in the 2002 NLCS), I remember the '88 World Series between the A's and the Dodgers and Orel Hershiser pitching. Most of all, though, I remember the 1989 season, the Giants making it through the playoffs and to the World Series, and the events that then unfolded. On October 17, 1989, moments before game 3 of the World Series was to start, the Loma Prieta earthquake hit. And I was there. What was already the most exciting thing that had ever happened in my 9 years of life (i.e. being able to go to the World Series in which my favorite team was participating) turned into something I truly will never forget.
Some more background: Now it's not easy being a Giants fan. Not only have they not won a World Series since 1954, when even my parents were too young to remember, but in my lifetime they've only made two attempts, both of which were hugely disappointing (I can hardly even talk about 2002). There is not much instant gratification with this team, and when they make it to the postseason it is a BIG DEAL.
Needless to say, the Giants meant a whole lot to me as a child and when I think or hear about that winning '89 team I get all sentimental and think of happy childhood memories (even though the Giants did lose that World Series) and how things were in days of yore. Sometimes at Giants games these days they play little historical video snippets between innings and if they ever have to do with the '87-'89 Giants I usually tear up. I really, really loved that team.
Oh, and I mentioned Will Clark, right? Totally my favorite player of all time, and totally had a giant crush on him starting around age 7 and through the early '90's.
Fast forward to last Friday. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the '89 World Series, several members of the '89 team were invited back to San Francisco to be honored on the field as the Giants took on the A's in some interleague play over the weekend. Neill and I made plans to go to that game with my parents and I was really looking forward to it. But then last Monday, I heard a rumor that was confirmed on the Giants website that they would be holding a reception on Friday where fans who bought tickets would have the chance to (...wait for it...) MEET THE PLAYERS. I read this and my heart started racing. Meet the players?? Like, Will Clark? Kevin Mitchell? Robby Thompson? Mike Krukow, Candy Maldonado, Dave Dravecky? Yep, those players. I bought tickets. First I got nervous that it would be too crowded and that I wouldn't actually get to meet any of them. Then, I got nervous that I would get to meet them but wouldn't have any idea what to say and would chicken out and leave. I went between the two about a hundred times. But Friday at 2pm, Neill and I showed up at AT&T Park. We waited outside. And then we went in and we MET THEM ALL.
Some of my favorite photos from the day:
Kevin Mitchell, of bare-handed fly-ball catch fame
Dave Dravecky, a pitcher with an amazingly inspirational story
Robby Thompson, rock star 2nd baseman
Mike Krukow, one of my favorite pitchers of the late '80's who these days provides color commentary for televised Giants games (and is incredibly hilarious)
And, finally, Will "The Thrill" Clark
And what did I end up saying to him? Well, I said to him exactly what I told myself NOT to say to him, which was something along the lines of: "Hi!!!!!! I'm Hilary!! Will you please sign my hat?? Ohmigosh, I totally thought I was going to marry you when I was 7!!!!!"
At least he was nice about it (he laughed, then enthusiastically gestured towards Neill, who was acting as my paparazzo at the time, and told me he thought I did pretty well). But still. Now, I actually really do like baseball - not just "cute guys" or whatever - but I guess you put me in front of a player I had a crush on when I was a child over 20 years ago, and I turn into a blubbering fangirl. And why would I say that in front of my real husband?! Geesh. And can I just say how awesome Neill is? He wasn't really even much of a baseball fan when we met (he's more of a football guy), and even if he had been, his allegiance would have been to the Atlanta Braves, not the Giants. I'm very lucky that he now not only roots for my team but also lets me drag him to things like this, especially when I practically confess my love to a middle-aged ex-player.
Finally, this picture I love:
It's my old hat from back in the day, which my mom bought and had signed by then catcher Bob Brenly at some event at the mall (my little brother has one, too), which I wore to the earthquake World Series game, and which was signed by my favorite player 20 years later. I guess it just makes me happy looking at this and knowing that after 20 years, I still felt as thrilled to meet the Giants as I would have had it happened when I was 9. It was so fun, and it's nice to know that that childlike sense of excitement doesn't fully go away, even when you're grown up.