If the Giants could have drawn crowds like this at Candlestick Park, they never would have changed stadiums.
Thousands of fans queuing up to pose with the World Series trophy created a sea of orange and black at the Sonoma Community Center Friday morning.
The line, inaugurated by a fan who had slept overnight in his van, began forming about 6 a.m. It snaked throughout the parking lot and spilled onto and down Napa Street, nearly reaching Second St. E.
On a tour of northern California the trophy stops have been averaging about 6,000 people, with about one-third of them actually making it inside.
Awaiting them was baseball’s Holy Grail. As a piece of sculpture, you’d walk by it a garage sale. But invested with the history or baseball and, on this day, the trial and tribulations of Giants fans everywhere, it was a Michelangelo.
There, basking in spotlights and surrounded by logos, it sat, to Giants fans worth its weight in 52 years of memories.
There were gasps and moments of awed silence. There were teenagers caught in the moment and old-timers thinking about Mays, McCovey, Clark and Bonds. Grandfathers brought kids. Couples brought babies.
Attendees had a brief moment to pose with the trophy before making way for the next portrait. Everything was captured by a Giants photographer to be made available for online purchase.
Amateur photos were allowed as well. In some of the larger contingents, the historian in the group would take a picture of the guy taking the picture.
Paula Hamilton, who took a vacation day off, joined two female friends for the event. They live in Santa Rosa but figured the line for the trophy’s visit there would be too long. They arrived in Sonoma about 6:30 a.m. and were among the first in line.
Huddled in blankets on folding chairs, the longtime fans said it had been a cold and damp morning. “It frizzed my hair, “Hamilton said. “I’m going to need a mirror and brush before we take the picture.”
K-1 teacher Rachel Cisneros brought her class from Sonoma Charter School. She said the official outing was a lesson in history and current events. Coincidentally a Giants fan (the temporary logo tattoo was one indication), Cisneros said that earlier that morning the class had even had a themed mathematics lesson –- reading statistics off one of the kid’s Buster Posey t-shirt.
A girl named Whitney, waiting patiently with her classmates, was wearing a cuddly hat with long ears designed to look like a panda bear. Was she wearing it because it was a Giant souvenir for Pedro “Panda” Sandoval or because her ears were cold? “Both,” she replied.
One of the parents accompanying the group, Ken Blackwood, was no stranger to sports crowds. He looked around the crowded parking lot and started the wave.
Photos by Melania Mahoney