By Paul Mahaney
Mention the city of San Francisco and what might come to mind are visions of sailboats on the bay, Fisherman’s Wharf, cable cars climbing half way to the stars, and the Golden Gate Bridge. But if you go to AT&T Park, home of the Giants, you think beautiful ballpark with magnificent views, garlic fries, unique fans, and seagulls?
Alright, seagulls may not be among the first things you think of there, but believe me when I say that to any Giant fan they are on your mind, and maybe (likely) on you. Seagulls at the ballpark are not all that unusual as other ballparks across the nation have them; however in San Francisco we have them in abundance.
It is said that birds of a feather flock together well the fans here, like across the nation, love the hot dogs, garlic fries, and nachos with cheese, but there’s the rub. You see here we have to share them with the gulls, and even if you do (ever so reluctantly) they still dump on you.
The gulls are seen all over the city, but never are they more visible than at AT&T. San Francisco is known for its fine dining and AT&T Park has some of the best food anywhere, and the word is out as the seagulls will attest. During the 7th inning stretch you might as well ring the diner bell for them!
You’ll recall the scene in the film, “Finding Nemo” from Pixar Studios, another Bay Area institution from across the bay, where Nemo’s dad and Dory, his companion, are lying on the wharf about to become a meal for the seagulls. As you think back, you remember one specific word, and it is repeated over and over and over again, in monotone…”Mine.”
It is exactly what comes to mind as you begin to take a bite out of that delicious cheeseburger you just bought, as you keep one eye looking up for one of the dive bombers with feathers. The seagulls are thinking the same thing, “Mine!”
A night game offers a vision out of Hitchcock’s, “The Birds” also filmed just north of here across the Golden Gate, up in Bodega Bay. You know the scene, it’s the one where the birds slowly begin to gather on a playground structure until finally, yes you can almost hear the seagulls all echoing the word one after the other…”Mine.”
You can’t blame them really, apparently they love the ballpark as much as we do, and they must be season ticket holders. I’m not saying, the park is for the birds, far from it. Oh if only the city could charge them parking fees.
How bad can it get? Well recently I heard Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper, or maybe it was Mike Krukow, recalling an encounter by fellow broadcaster, Jon Miller, about to get into his car after a game, and suddenly he had a decoration on his suit, a gift from the sky. Miller without missing a beat exclaimed, “I didn’t think tonight’s broadcast was that bad” or something to that affect, so the birds have become critics too.
If only the “Big Unit” Randy Johnson, back on March 24th 2001, had thrown that bean ball at a seagull instead of obliterating that poor dove, who knows, maybe the gulls would steer clear of ballparks altogether.
So this year as the Giants nine take to the field they will again be accompanied by the other part of the club, our seagulls. I guess you can say the gulls add to the color of the team and its fan base. I just wish we all didn’t have to duck so much.
Ah, the stuff of dreams…mine.