By Robert Kaufman
Legendary New York Yankee, Yogi Berra, known for his “Yogisms,” once said, “If people don’t want to come to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?” Nowadays, ballparks aren’t simply a place to enjoy a baseball game but have also become a huge hit for hosting events designed to not stop anyone from experiencing the ballpark. Baseball fan or not.
On July 1, a group of BATW members were treated to a grand slam behind-the-scenes tour of, perhaps, Major League Baseball’s most famous address: 24 Willie Mays Plaza (aka Oracle Park), home base for the San Francisco Giants. Like every other team in MLB, there are only 81 home games (not counting potential playoffs or World Series), so that leaves a slew of open dates on the calendar to exploit a variety of venues throughout the stadium. There are 12 event spaces (some of which can be broken down to smaller spaces), so there’s a setting for any size gathering. And that’s where Giants Enterprises, the sales and marketing arm for the team, steps in to help create and deliver one-of-a-kind curated experiences, from rock concerts to golf to weddings to corporate events, and, yes, even a carnival, complete with a Ferris wheel.
Led by superstar guides, Lynn Lyons and Denny Miller, our first tour stop was the visitor’s clubhouse before heading through the corridors under the stands and onto the field where instant attention was focused on the scoreboard highlighting the BATW logo. In fact, our presence was showcased on monitor screens throughout the entire stadium.
During a break in the Giants’ dugout, our guides provided a crash course in field maintenance, specifically, what’s involved in maintaining the grass (Kentucky Bluegrass from the San Joaquin Valley), from the steady stress it sustains game to game and from a variety of events.
The tour then continued throughout a couple viewing levels in the stands where there is plenty of the Giants’ rich history on display from the team’s years in New York to present day, including three World Series’ trophies. Of course, the journey wouldn’t be complete for a group of writers without a pit stop to the press box.
The VIP tour concluded in the Gotham Club, an exclusive dining and social club located behind the right field fence, where the BATW team was hosted to some of the finest ballpark cuisine in MLB, including such SF treats as crab sliders and garlic fries.
From public daily tours ($25) to private tours to educational tours to special occasions, Oracle Park isn’t just for playing baseball.