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Sunday, August 5, 2001

I don't think I have to repeat that I think spending the day at the ballpark makes for a perfect Sunday afternoon. It doesn't get any better than that, except that today it did. The weather at Pacific Bell Park was ideal, at least for those of us under the overhang in section 127. If I'd been sitting in the sun for nine innings, I might have a different opinion of how "ideal" the weather was, because for once it was a hot, summery day in San Francisco.

The natives think this is an abomination. Summer days in the City are supposed to be foggy and cool, and it's not supposed to get hot until late September or early October. But as much as I love San Francisco, I love hot weather at least as much. Put the two together, and stick me in the beautiful ballpark at 24 Willie Mays Plaza, and I'm in heaven.

Pacific Bell Park

Pacific Bell Park during batting practice, about an hour and a half before the game started.

To make things even better, I was there with my nephew. I began Eric's indoctrination as a Giants fan when he was very small, and it took. Since he grew up and moved away, we don't get to see as many games together as in the old days. And with the new park selling out for almost every game, we have to work at finding ways to get there.

That's why we got on the bus here in Santa Rosa at 9:30 this morning, for a game that wouldn't start until 1:05. There are two tour companies that take busloads of local folks, most of them as old as Eric and I put together, to a few games each season. One of them (the other one) charges a little less for the ride and the ticket.

The bus we took today was from the more expensive company. This is the one that provides donuts on the way down to the City, and ice cream on the way home. They give you a goodie bag filled with things like peanuts, Cracker Jack and M-and-M's, and when you get there you get to sit in field level seats, instead of in the seagull level.

So we rode in style, and I ate too much — and not just on the bus. At the park, I had a cha cha bowl from Orlando's Caribbean Barbecue. I may not eat again until Tuesday.

This was the Giants' eighth annual "Until There's a Cure Day," raising money for AIDS research and prevention. They were the first professional sports team to hold a benefit for AIDS and HIV-related causes, and it's a commitment that has endeared the organization to the community. It's always a beautiful ceremony, with passionate speeches and music, and hundreds of volunteers forming a human AIDS ribbon on the field.

Pacific Bell Park

Parts of the AIDS quilt, and the human AIDS ribbon (which from this angle is just a whole lot of people in red shirts, holding balloons).

The game itself was interesting and exciting, with all the bits of drama that a major league baseball game can provide. Home runs were hit. Players were ejected by overzealous umpires. Great fielding plays were made, along with great base running. There was enough controversy to stir up conversation with strangers, but not so much that we couldn't enjoy the company of friends. That (and a Giant win) made it pretty much the ultimate experience for us.

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