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 what 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 roughly a 50/50 chance of seeing a win. I am much more thankful of my father 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.
|Candlestick Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants 1960-1999|
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.
|Barry Bonds waves to the crowd after a home run, 1993.|
[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.
|Kirk Rueter's first pitch at AT&T Park on April 11, 2000|
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.
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.
|Matt Cain's Debut Start|
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 Bruce Bochy decision, every Cain pitch, every Posey at bat, and 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 wouldn't be as special as it was. Had the Giants continued to win the World Series every other year like some “Even Year Magic,” 2010 wouldn’t be as special as it was.
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 when it comes to our Giants.
|Aaron Saltzman, the next great Giants fan|
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 the next Barry or draft the next Buster. 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.