November 2010. The sunrise was a day late. The brilliant orange sky over the East Bay hills was a reminder of yesterday's historic San Francisco day. Downtown was awash in orange and black. An estimated one million souls (one of which I gave birth to) were on hand for the San Francisco Giants Victory Parade. My father said maybe V-J day in August 1945 was bigger, but I doubt that. There was shouting, screaming, crying, cheering, waving, fighting, and, I am sure, plenty of drinking. This was not a crowd for a popular politician or a beloved rock star or even a pope. But it was for a baseball team, our baseball team. And it was not just this 2010 Giants team. It was for the love of a sport and the love of a city.
Baseball is an interesting sport. I am mainly a football fan and like things fast moving and a little more aggressive. Baseball is slow moving, tortoise-paced; but for the die-hard fan, it brings both pleasure and gratification; and as I have heard over the course of that week, a little torture. Sounds like a perfect marriage. I stand afar and watch since I am not a true fan. I went to some games in high school; I had a crush on John Montefusco and had a dream that Will Clark liked me. That’s about it. My heart belongs to Joe Montana anyway. But I cannot help but bask in their happiness as one basks in the warmth of a nearby fire. I do stand in awe and appreciate a game that can have a million people leave jobs, schools (that was easy), families and other important responsibilities to run downtown, clog up BART, MUNI & Caltrain (and not complain about the wait) as well as every freeway into town, to be a part of this extraordinary piece of history. Middle-aged men felt like little boys again, old men cried, this game did more for unity than all the politicians we reelected on the Tuesday before. Baseball has magic, some appeal that transcends race, religion, politics, and even blood, and we were blessed to have the best team this year.
I was privileged to enjoy and bask in the glory that was the Niners of the 1980’s. Again the spotlight shone on the City. San Francisco. I do not know anybody who is not proud to call San Francisco their hometown or their birthplace. The spectacular topography, the breathtaking skyline, the diversity of culture and language, and the food, yes, the food.
And not only in athletic triumph does she appear so luminous and beautiful, but also in her darkest days, she lifts up her face with grace and determination to survive. Stark, ancient images of people dressed in turn-of-the-century clothing in April 1906; Diane Feinstien, trembling while she made that awful announcement in November 1978; gloomy, eerie images of a crumbled stretch of 880 in October 1989.
San Francisco has had her share of suffering, and she continues to “walk in beauty, like the night.” When Tony Bennett begins the notes of that song, that wonderful song, anyone ever associated with this City, stops and takes a breath before they begin to sing along, usually with tears in their eyes, (at least there are in mine). San Francisco and the Giants make a beautiful marriage. In 2012, they gave us a perfect anniversary present. They have made many, many people happy.