I became a Giants fan twice in my life, neither that far separated. The first time was for family, the second was for the love of a freak.
My introduction to the Giants came when visiting my maternal grandpa in Eureka. Growing up in Portland, I was constantly flooded with information about the team to the north, the Seattle Mariners, and their new golden boy, Ichiro. I remember seeing them win 116 games and thinking that they might just be my team. But Papa was having none of that; he was determined for me to be a Giants fan.
Every day while he was gardening, he would put the Giants game on the radio and listen to his boys play. He was convinced that Will Clark was the greatest player on the face of the planet and that the Giants were the best team you could ever root for. Slowly, I began to come around to his way of thinking and Papa got 7-year-old me my first hat. We even made plans to visit Pac Bell Park for my first game in San Francisco.
But we never made it to that game. In June 2003, Papa passed away from leukemia. It was a hugely sad day for our family and he left a hole in our lives that still hasn’t entirely filled. We still had tickets for the game in July and my dad and I decided we were still going to see that game.
We lined up extra early and, while waiting, struck up a conversation with an older gentleman standing next to me. He started telling me of the days when he played with Joe DiMaggio on the San Francisco Seals and his journey through the lower levels of baseball. Somehow it came up that his birthday was April 20th, which he thought was funny because it was the same as Hitler’s. And Papa’s. To this day, I’m not sure if the man was telling the truth, but I choose to believe that it was fate. In that moment I knew that I would always be a Giants fan.
Even though I promised myself that day that I would always follow my now-beloved Giants, I may have slipped for some years. After all, I was only in the third grade and Ichiro was a pretty tempting mistress. But I returned home because of one fateful day in seventh grade Spanish class. My buddy Peter came in to class and was gushing over this AAA pitcher he saw play against the Portland Beavers the night before. This guy, Tim Lincecum (which we pronounced Lin-KEK-um), was apparently the best thing he had ever seen.
So naturally Billy, Peter and I became the biggest Lin-KEK-um fans there ever were. We researched all of his stats, found countless YouTube videos of his wacky pitching motion, found out about his college background at UW and even created a terrible website that declared us the official Tim Lincecum fan club. At some point we reached out to the Fresno Grizzlies PR, but surprisingly Tim was unavailable for an interview for our website.
And then suddenly, this Lin-KEK-um guy was pitching in the majors for the Giants. I hadn’t even realized that he played for what should have been my favorite team until the moment I saw him in that black-and-orange cap. I started researching the Giants’ national TV schedule and finally got to watch him pitch live. We then realized it wasn’t actually Tim Lin-KEK-um, but Lincecum. And that he was a damn exciting guy to watch. This 5’ 11” guy made a seventh-grade baseball player believe that he would be able to turn his abilities into a MLB career. I wanted to be like Tim and play for the Giants and be a part of the legacy that Papa left me. Ten years later and that MLB career hasn’t arrived, but I still am a Giant — a Giant fan. I will always love the Freak and his debut in 2007, but now I have the same love that Papa did and know that I will always be a Giant.
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