It's easy to call yourself a Giants' fan. How many times have I heard people say that they became a fan Way back in 2010. That's the crowd that hangs out at MoMo's, across the street from AT&T Park. Then there are the real Giants fans, who can maybe remember a particular game they attended in 1969, with the wind swirling in the Candlestick parking lot that they were practically blown over walking back to the car. That's a real Giants' fan!
My wife is continually amazed-or it might be baffled-that I can tick off the memory of a game I attended, but cannot find my car keys or my wallet. (Raise your hand if you're with me so far guys.) A former roommate and friend asks me from time to time what I know about a particular player and just shakes his head when I come up with info about such and such player. I've been a Giants' fan soooooooooo long-1963-that when a new player is brought up or comes to the team in a trade, I know the player from years past who wore that uniform number. Case in point: Clay Hensley, a relief pitcher brought up last year wears #34. Anyone besides me know which pitcher (a hint) wore that number for a number of years in the 1960's? (No fair looking it up on the Internet. It was...Ron Herbel, a fair to midland pitcher, mainly in relief, but did start a few games. (He passed away in the recent past.) It's easy to remember the numbers of guys like Mays, McCovey and Marichal, but knowing the numbers of some of the more obscure players and their numbers, goes a long way to proving you are a real Giants' fan.
Here's another one to prove I am a real Giants' fan: When it came time to choose a college in the early 1970s, I chose San Francisco State, largely because it was well, San Francisco. Officially I majored in Political Science, unofficially my major was San Fransisco Giants. I was at Candlestick on a night in 1975 where the attendance was below 1,000! That's real.
All of us real fans suffered through the decade of the 1970's. Except for winning the division in 1971, the cumulative seasons could count as baseball's version of the 'Lost Generation,' with kudos to Gertrude Stein.
And my last point: I became a Giants' fan in 1963. Very few games were on TV at the time: One weekly game on Saturday and the 9 games that the Giants played the Dodgers in Los Angeles. But still I became a fan. In September of 1964, I went to my first game. A charter bus was going from Napa and my mother paid a friend's son to chaperon me. I probably bounced my way down to catch the bus on Third St. near Soscol, which was light years away from crossing the river. With traffic not nearly what it is like today, we got there in just over an hour. The game was against the Phillies, who were still in the pennant race just a week or so before the end of the season. (They would eventually lose the pennant to the St. Louis Cardinals by blowing a six game lead with nine to go. Me thinx the Giants finsihed like 6th in a 10 team league.) The point: A 10 year old, first game, big time hero worship: Willie Mays went 0-4 and I took it personally.
Tom Ontis is a Napa ex-patriate now living in Contra Costa County with wife Shelley, also from Napa and four darling and hilarious kitty cats. He grew up on a ranchette east of town, one mile and half from Silverado Junior (now middle) School.