Today I'll attend my 39th consecutive Giants home opener. The Giants have won 25 and lost 13 so far. Several players made their major-league debuts at one of these games: Juan Bonilla, Mike Couchee, Joey Cora, Jim Steels, Jose Guillen, Joe Martinez. Seven games have gone into extra innings, with the home team winning six of them.
I was going to pick a few highlights from over the years, but as I checked out old news stories, I realized that one opener stood above all others. I'll get to it in a second, but first, some of those highlights.
April 17, 1980: Giants 7, Padres 3. The only thing I remember about my first Opening Day is that I had a broken foot, and seats in the nosebleeds.
April 11, 2000: Dodgers 6, Giants 5. Dodger fans like remembering this one, known as the Kevin Elster Game. Elster, who had been out of baseball for a year, hit 3 homers in the first-ever game at what was then called Pacific Bell Park. It still belongs on my highlight list, precisely because it was the first one at China Basin. Barry Bonds liked the new park ... he hit a run-scoring double on the first pitch he saw, then homered in his next at-bat.
More Barry Bonds Games: In 2002, Barry hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 10th to send fans home happy. And in 2004, this happened:
Aaron Rowand: Aaron Rowand was an unlikely hero. The center fielder, in his third season with the Giants, had been a bit of a disappointment. In 2010, the Giants played the longest opener in terms of innings played, and in the bottom of the 13th, Rowand did this:
The Giants went on to win their first World Series since coming to San Francisco. In the 2011 opener, Rowand was at it again, this time in the bottom of the 12th:
Objectively, the best performance by a Giant on any Opening Day I attended came in 2012. Matt Cain faced 28 batters and retired 27 for a one-hitter. The only hit against Cain was by the opposing pitcher, James McDonald, who had a career BA of .110 over six seasons. (Cain wasn't done. Later in the season, he threw the first perfect game in Giants history.)
But my pick for my best Opening Day? 1993.
By the end of the 1992, the Giants looked like they would be leaving town. They were sold to investors from Florida. But the sale was denied, a group of locals bought the team and kept them in San Francisco, and they started their new reign by signing Barry Bonds.
Appropriately, the Giants' opponent for their 1993 home opener was the Florida Marlins, playing in their first season.
The Grateful Dead sang the National Anthem. Sherry Davis made her major-league debut as the PA announcer, the first full-time female stadium announcer for a major league baseball team.
Barry Bonds came up in the bottom of the 2nd for his first Candlestick at-bat as a Giant:
And in the bottom of the 11th, Darren Lewis singled home the winning run, giving the Giants a 4-3 victory.