Originally posted April 14, 2011
Sunday is a great day to take your kid to see a San Francisco Giants game! The game times are almost always at 1:05pm, and there are a ton of events and activities for families on Sundays.
In the three years that we’ve been taking our son to games, we’ve learned a few things about seeing Giants games with a kid, especially on a Sunday afternoon. After last week’s game, I felt compelled to compile my own little list of tips and tricks for AT&T Park. Even though you can find almost all of this information on your own on the Giants’ website, you need to dig and – more importantly – you need to know what you’re digging for.
Food: You can bring your own food in to AT&T Park. Repeat: You don’t have to spend $70 to feed a family of 3 a bunch of junk food (sorry, Gilroy Garlic Fries) every time you go to the ballpark. You can pack in your own picnic, as long as you don’t bring in any glass containers or alcoholic beverages. We pack a backpack full of Tupperware laden with sandwiches, sliced fruit, pretzels, cookies and anything else we can fit. That way, when we do wind up buying a $6.25 Lemonade it’s refreshing, not budget-breaking.
Seating: Where you sit is entirely dependent upon your personal preference and budget, obviously. If you can afford to sit right behind home plate, that’s where you should always be. If you have to make a choice between View Reserve and the Bleachers, I recommend the bleachers. You’ll run the risk of your kid learning a new profanity or two, but you’ll also have a better chance of watching more of the game. Something about being up so high and so removed from the game that doesn’t work with young children’s minds. Or at least our young child’s mind.
The bleachers also have the best access to the Coca Cola Fan lot (see below).
Autographs and batting practice: The Giants have a policy that you can try to get autographs during/after batting practice – as long as you’re not intrusive. On Sundays the Giants don’t always take batting practice, but they do designate it as official autograph day.
This means that the first 120 kids ages 14 & under who line up in the aisle for sections 104/105 and the first 120 kids who line up in the aisle for sections 126/127 get to stand in line and get an autograph from that day’s designated Giant. This past Sunday we accidentally discovered this fact, and had to scramble to get a ticket for Ryder. In turn, he got to meet/get an autograph from Will “The Thrill” Clark, who is currently working in the Giants’ front office. Next Sunday game we’ll try to do it again, and update this with the player who was signing.
They have sharpies for the player, but don’t provide anything for you to get signed. Think ahead: bring a ball or a pennant. Your own Sharpie wouldn’t hurt either, in case you get lucky and catch one of the other players in the right place at the right time.
Elevators: There are elevators that will take you up or down to every level in the ballpark. They have security positioned outside the glass doors to them, and the stickers on the doors make it seem like the elevators are reserved for the disabled or people going to the suites. Whenever we’ve approached the elevators at the Northeast corner of the park, however, they’ve been more than kind in taking us where we wanted to go.
I’ve never asked the exact policy on this, but it seems like they allow those in need on. When my wife, Michele, had just had foot surgery back in 2002 they let her use the elevators each direction as much as she wanted during both of the World Series games we attended. And every time we’ve brought Ryder to the park, they’ve let us use the elevators to get from the View Reserve level down to the slides/Coca Cola Fan Lot. At the end of the day, or even in the 3rd inning, avoiding that winding, 7-story ramp down from View Reserve to the fan lot can be a day-saver.
Coca Cola Fan Lot: Inside of the giant Coke bottle out beyond the left field bleachers are three slides, and just to the North of the slides is the Little Giants Park. Kids must be at least 36″ to ride the lower slides, and over 42″ tall to ride the big slide. Unless there is no line, the slides aren’t worth the wait.
Worth the wait, however, is the Little Giants Park. This is the miniature replica of AT&T Park, where kids 42″ and shorter can smack a Whiffle ball and run the bases. The line for this is huge in the early innings, but usually dies out by about the 6th or 7th inning. They let in 15 – 20 kids at a time, and each kid gets a chance to hit a ball/run the mini-bases and then exit. Once every kid in that “rotation” has had a shot, they let in a new batch of kids from the line.
If you can keep your kid engaged in the game until the later innings, you’ll do right to have them smack a homer in the Little Giants Park. Because from there it is pretty easy to ride it out until the end of the game so they can run the real bases after the game (see below).
Kids Run the Bases: At the conclusion of games on Sundays, kids can run the actual bases in AT&T Park! The line forms along McCovey Cove, outside of the ballpark. Make your way out of the ballpark – preferably by exiting the stairs at the Southeast corner of the park, beyond the Coca Cola fan lot. This puts you on the promenade leading right to the knothole gang free viewing area. You’ll enter through the knothole gang gate in right field.
The line starts to form early (I’m guessing 8th inning) and gets long. Don’t let that dissuade you: it moves quickly, and there really is nothing like the joy on a kid’s face when they get to run around the bases of a major league park.
The staff who run this operation for the Giants can be a bit gruff, but don’t let that slow you down either. They just have a lot of people to get through in a short period of time. This is sponsored by See’s Candy, so every kid who does it gets a free See’s Lollipop on the way up and out. And on Mother’s day, moms get to run the bases too!
Final note on concessions: the best deals on any Giants merchandise are always to be found in the big Giants Dugout Store. Panda hats were selling for $20 on the upper levels, but were $16 at the dugout store. I bought a fitted hat for $40 at the end of last season, only to find that hats were 2-for-1 in the dugout store.
Enjoy your Sundays in the park, and Go Giants!