Saltzman: What I am Thankful For as a San Francisco Giants Fan

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 4: Three of the San Francisco Giants World Series trophies sit on display during a retirement ceremony for pitcher Jeremy Affeldt
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 4: Three of the San Francisco Giants World Series trophies sit on display during a retirement ceremony for pitcher Jeremy Affeldt /

The easy answer is 2010, 2012 and 2014. And to some degree, those are certainly three of the things I am most thankful for, especially 2010. However, what I am truly thankful for is the fandom itself.

I am thankful for 1983. That was the year of my first game at Candlestick Park. My father took me to the game. I don’t remember the game it was. I don’t remember if the Giants won or lost. The Giants won 53% of their home games that season, so I had a 50/50 shot of seeing a win. I am much more thankful of my father and him taking me to the game in the first place. I am thankful for the love of the game he had and the love for the game he instilled in me.

I am thankful for 1987. My first pennant race. I am thankful for being seven years old and beginning to live and die with my team. I am thankful for the young homegrown stars like Will Clark, Robby Thompson, and Chili Davis and new players traded to the team like Jeffrey Leonard, Jose Uribe, Kevin Mitchell, Mike Krukow, Don Robinson, and Dave Dravecky. I was heartbroken when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, but I was excited for the future.

I am thankful for 1989. My first World Series. I am thankful for seeing some of my favorite players evolve like Clark, Mitchell, Robinson and more. I am thankful for new additions like Steve Bedrosian and Brett Butler playing key roles.

I am also thankful for the first responders and everyone that came to the aid of the victims of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Despite the loss to the Oakland Athletics, that reality hit home harder than any loss could ever do.

My father and I were in the car heading home to watch Game 3 when the Earthquake began. We were listening to the pregame on the radio when it felt like all four tires went flat at the same time. But then you look around and every other car is stopped on the freeway as well. I am thankful that we weren’t on the Bay Bridge that day or on 880. I am thankful that so many survived.

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I am thankful for 1993. I am thankful for Barry Bonds agreeing to sign with my favorite team and the 15 years of entertainment he provided my family. My grandfather was near the end of his life as Bonds was beginning his career in San Francisco and he would watch every game. He would call my dad to comment on the fact that Barry Bonds had homered in the exact same spot as he did the day before. Sidenote: My grandfather would watch the replays of the game on SportsChannel Bay Area and not realize they were replays. I am thankful for the excitement Bonds, Dusty Baker, Rod Beck, Matt Williams and so many more brought my grandfather, my father and me.

I am thankful for 1997. I am thankful for Brian Sabean and the team he built. I am thankful for Williams and all he did for the Giants in his time in San Francisco. I am thankful for Jeff Kent, J.T. Snow, Rich Aurilia, Russ Ortiz, Shawn Estes and Kirk Rueter. I am thankful for the era that began that season.

I am thankful for 2000. I am thankful for the most beautiful baseball park I have ever set foot in. I am thankful for Ellis Burks, Robb Nen, and Mark Gardner. I am thankful for the first game I was able to take my dad to a game. I am thankful for sitting at Pacific Bell Park with my father, driving the two of us to the park to enjoy the game I had loved for the past 17 years.

I am thankful for 2001. I am thankful for Bonds and the season he had. With every home run, I felt like I was home instead of being away at college, 1,646.2 miles away. I am thankful for home runs 71 and 72 as I shared baseball history with my roommates and felt a connection to my team despite being so far away.

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I am thankful for 2002. I am thankful for my second trip to the World Series as a fan. I am thankful for how close we got. It was gut wrenching and heart breaking and still feels raw to this day, but it was such a special season. I am thankful for all of the players that were a part of that team. I am thankful for Kenny Lofton, Benito Santiago, David Bell, Reggie Sanders, and Jason Schmidt. I am also thankful for the team’s first round draft pick that season.

I am thankful for 2005. I am thankful for the debut of Matt Cain. I am thankful for the first move towards an eventual championship. I am thankful for the front office changing their philosophy on how they would build the Giants in the future. I am thankful for future draft picks like Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Joe Panik.

am thankful for 2008. I am thankful for taking my future wife on dates to San Jose Giants games and seeing those homegrown draft picks up close. I am thankful for watching Posey and Bumgarner with her and watching them get to the big leagues. I am thankful that my wife was a Los Angeles Dodgers fan before we met and that meant she already loved baseball. I am thankful that because of those San Jose Giants games, she fell in love with the Giants. I am thankful for her family, that loved the Dodgers and still do, but were happy for me and my team when they made the playoffs. I am thankful that she fell in love with them organically and that when they won it all in 2010, she was the first person I hugged.

And yes, of course I am thankful for 2010. I am thankful for every torturous moment. I am thankful for every thrilling moment. I am thankful for every Cain pitch, for every Posey at bat, and for every Lincecum strikeout.

I am most thankful for November 1, 2010 about 30 minutes after Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz in Game 5. About 30 minutes after that last strike, I showed up on my father’s doorstep and knocked on the door. When he answered the door, I hugged him and cried. It was one of the most special moments a son could have with his father as it relates to sports. It is why we care so much about the game itself. Losing happens. No team goes undefeated. The people you share those moments with and the shared joy you feel when your team wins the final game of the season is indescribable. Had the Giants won all the time, 2010 isn’t as special as it was. Had the Giants continued to win World Series every other year like some “Even Year Magic,” 2010 wouldn’t be as special.

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I truly loved seeing San Francisco win the World Series in 2012 and 2014. But the moment i embraced my father on the night of November 1, 2010 is the best moment I have ever shared with him with our Giants.

And now my son, Aaron, who is two years old, will be the next generation to be a part of this fandom. I look forward to introducing the Giants to him and rooting for new players that come along and become his favorites. This is bigger than any win or loss the team can have. This is more special to me than whether the Giants sign Giancarlo Stanton or not this off-season. (Also, Dear Giancarlo, please agree to a trade with the Giants. Ok, thanks.) This is what I am thankful for, this is what baseball is all about, and this is what the San Francisco Giants mean to me and my family.