It’s spring and that makes me think of Baseball. I grew up in San Diego just up the hill from the old Padre’s stadium in Mission Valley, in fact, we could watch the fireworks from our front yard. We went to many Padre’s games as kids – baseball was a lot cheaper back then. I moved around quite a bit, lost my connection to a specific team and got busy with my career. About ten years ago that changed. I moved to Charlotte and became buddies with a guy who is a die-hard Cardinals fan, and a big baseball fan in general. We started traveling to a different park each year, and have checked off several over the years.
We usually add one park per year, but we did pull off a double on one trip. Generally we add in a few days of hiking, and the location was Yosemite, so we started looking at schedules and realized we could start in San Francisco, get in a visit to AT&T Park, hike for a few days and then drive down to LA to pickup a Dodger game before hitting the red-eye home. We had a plan. I’ll cover Yosemite and LA another time.
A few hints I have learned traveling to San Francisco. You don’t need, or want a car. The parking is difficult and expensive and the public transit is great. Always have a jacket or rain shell with you, even in the summer it will be cool. If the food looks interesting, try it! During the summer, if you want to do something popular – buy your tickets in advance. Don’t plan every minute, wander around and take in the town. San Francisco really is a town best explored on foot. Decide what your key focus is for your visit and stay close by.
In other trips I have stayed on the north side of town close to Fisherman’s Wharf, but this trip was about baseball and was only one night in town before heading to the mountains. Oh, if you are leaving out of San Francisco via rental car, pick it up downtown, it will save you rental fees and save you parking while you are in town.
A cab to downtown is a great option and makes the journey easy. The hotel on this trip was the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. Great location and a great staff. There are deals available if you look for them. San Francisco is an expensive city for hotels, but the Hilton was a good deal for location and price.
We had a few hours to wander around exploring town in the afternoon before the game. This is one part of town I hadn’t spent too much time in and enjoyed exploring. This city is one of surprises to me. Those four-foot tall keys set into the sidewalk was just one of the little things you come across that makes you chuckle Off to the game. The walk to the park was a few blocks, but enjoyable.
On to AT&T Park
AT&T Park is a great ballpark. It consistently ranks as one of the best in the nation and it deserves the ranking. Opening in 2000, the park is one of the new generation of park meant to make you feel like you are in an old-school park. The park offers daily tours. When you arrive at the park, take some time to explore the entry area. There is a statue honoring Willie Mays at one of the entrances. The staff, and the fans, make the visit a pleasure. Wrigley Field was on of the parks that inspired the designers and the park and the design was also influenced by Camden Yards and Coors Field.
The Giants are a team that I have seen play in four other parks on trip – it has become a comic coincidence that we have seen the Giants as the visiting team in Seattle, Oakland, Denver and Chicago Wrigley. I can’t say I’m a die-hard Giants fan, but have come to really enjoy seeing them play.
I’m still working to check off all the MLB parks. I have the West Coast completed, Wrigley Field, Coors Field, the old Yankees Park plus a few others and still pick off a park each year. My wife and I are expecting our first child this summer, so traveling around the country visiting baseball parks isn’t high on the priority list, but she knew about this problem when she married me 😉