Giants players thrill crowd during parade through rainy San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco became the Valley of the Giants for the third time in five years Friday as hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets for a confetti and rain-soaked parade honoring the World Series champions.
In steady drizzle mixed with clouds of orange, black and white confetti, players waved, snapped photos and mugged for the roaring crowds from the top of double-decker buses, a change from the classic convertibles and cable cars that transported them along their now-familiar parade route in 2012 and 2010.
"These guys play together, they believe in each other, they play as one and they never give up," Hall of Famer Willie McCovey said as he waited to greet the young members of his former team for a post-parade rally at San Francisco City Hall, the end of the 2-mile route. "That’s the way this team has been for years."
Elated fans of all ages, some of whom staked out viewing spots hours before the spectacle’s noon start time, pressed against metal barriers, stood on rooftops and climbed onto street lamps festooned with orange, black and white balloons, to cheer their hometown heroes.
Many skipped work and pulled their children out of class against the pleas of schools so they could catch what they described as a glimpse of history.
"I’m going to send them to school on Monday saying they had ‘orange fever,’" said Marcela Habash, 36, of San Francisco, who brought three of her four children to the plaza outside City Hall.
While other players doubled up on the buses, the day’s undisputed giant among Giants, pitching ace Madison Bumgarner, was given his own flatbed truck to ride. It was adorned with a sign indicating his Most Valuable Player honors from both the World Series and the National League Championship. Deafening roars and chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" greeted the soft-spoken pitcher as he held both of his trophies aloft.
A second pickup carried the Giants’ World Series trophies from 2012 and 2010, while manager Bruce Bochy beamed from atop a double-decker bus bearing this year’s trophy.
Corporate sponsors livened up the parade with elaborately decked-out floats that included a panda-themed homage to slugger and 2012 World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, whose nickname is Kung-Fu Panda. Former Journey lead singer Steve Perry stepped down from a float blaring his anthem "Don’t Stop Believin’" to offer animated high-fives to fellow die-hard fans.
Dignitaries such as Giants great Willie Mays, team president Larry Baer, US Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Ed Lee and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was San Francisco’s mayor when the Giants won the Series in 2010, rode in convertibles.
Elsewhere along the route, teenage girls with cellphones held high shrieked as shortstop and team heartthrob Brandon Crawford rolled by. San Jose high school senior Jessica Earnshaw snapped off several pictures of Crawford.
"He’s my favorite," she said. "By far."
At the rally, players and team officials offered inside glimpses of their season and what the repeat Series win, and the support of fans, meant to them.
Pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, who like most of his colleagues was sporting a sweatshirt with the slogan "Kiss the Ring," said that on the airplane back from the Game 7 victory in Kansas City, Mo., the players had joked about engraving their World Series rings with the words "Mad Bum" — Bumgarner’s nickname — instead of their own names.
"This is the best moment of our lives, our baseball careers," Bumgarner told the crowd. "To be here standing right here on this stage is what we all play for. … There is absolutely no way we would be here without you guys. You make it so fun to come out and play in front of you every night."
Neither city officials nor the police offered an official estimate of how many people attended the festivities, although Police Chief Greg Suhr said the number of officers on the streets was at least 20 percent higher than usual, with police dogs helping with security.
Although the weather undeniably kept a lot of people away, neither parade-goers nor the fans offered any sign they were taking the moment for granted.
The parade was a first for Ana Gonzalez, 43, who rose before the sun to drive to San Francisco from her suburban Bay Area home.
With the parade falling on Halloween, as it did two years ago, she and other parents had to choose between celebrating their team and attending school events.
"I asked the kids if they wanted to go to their Halloween parade or the Giants," Gonzalez said. "And they said, ‘Let’s go see the Giants!’"
Veteran pitcher Tim Hudson twirled an orange towel over his head to wild cheers. Two buses later, right-fielder and unofficial team cheerleader Hunter Pence, wearing a replica wrestling championship belt, threw his hands up and lead fans in several choruses of "Let’s go, Giants!"
Closing pitcher Santiago Casilla, held a sign that said "Jesus Loves You."
Star reliever Sergio Romo lifted up his jacket several times to reveal a T-shirt that read, "I have issues." During the 2012 parade, Romo raised eyebrows and drew cheers with a T-shirt bearing the message, "I just look illegal."