Forty Years, Forty Posts #4

The first professional baseball game I saw was the San Francisco Giants versus the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1984. We were visiting family in San Jose, and one of my uncles gave us tickets. It was frigid and drizzly at Candlestick Park that afternoon — there’s a reason Mark Twain said the coldest winter he ever experienced was the summer he spent in San Francisco. We stayed through the game and won the croix de candlestick, a pin given to fans who stayed ’til the bitter end on nasty days.

I wasn’t that into baseball back then. I don’t know who was pitching, who won, and can’t report on a terrific double play made by so-and-so. I don’t even know which living legends might have been playing.

What I remember best is a man in full pirate regalia, complete with a stuffed parrot on his shoulder, standing through the game and cheering for the visiting team. His banter was brilliant, and although he rubbed the home town fans, I think everyone found him entertaining. I also remember the Crab, a mascot the fans loved to hate. He danced and capered while the fans hurled abuse. “Get rid of the crab!” they groused. I’m not sure if he’s still around, but if he isn’t, I bet he’s missed.

I appreciated cheap seat culture before I appreciated the game: the humorous asides, the good-natured smack talk and ribbing and baiting. The pitcher/belly-itcher chant, “swing batter,” that kind of thing. Other sports are all hollering, but baseball is way better. It’s got chatter.

When: 1984
Where: San Francisco

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