Over in the diaries section, Humm Baby is asking for people to comment on how they became Giants fans.
It's a good idea, and I'm not above petty theft.
Growing up, I was immersed in Giants gear. I have pictures with myself and Candy Maldonado, Dan Gladden, and Tom O'Malley, among others. Back in 1985, when my parents started buying season ticket plans, all of the season ticket holders knew each other on a first name basis. When there was a "Guess the Attendance" game on the scoreboard, the biggest challenge was figuring out who went to the bathroom. The second biggest challenge was taking off your shoes and socks to finish counting.
Does anyone else hear rimshots and groans, or is it just me?
Bill Laskey would put a ball in my grubby hands every time I approached the bullpen. There wasn't an inch of my bedroom lacking a Giants pennant. Everything was set up for me to be a Giants fan for life. Maybe even one of those crazy fans who obsessed over every niggling detail and roster move at the expense of a decent standard of living. Just maybe....
Then, I was seduced by the abject coolness of a player who could run, hit, and did little snatch catches in the outfield. Rickey Henley Henderson swayed me to the dark green side of the bay for a time. A sad, unfortunate time. Imagine the horror my mother had in her heart when her son started asking for A's Starter jackets and hats. She tried everything to bring me back.
Young me: No, I think I'm just going to watch this A's game.
Mom: Did you want your friends to come over, and have me buy alcohol for all of you?
Young Me: No, the A's game is pretty good.
Mom: I hear the kids are doing PCP these days. If you turn off the A's game, I'll get you some. I hear it's outstanding stuff.
I still liked the Giants, mind you, but they were just a close second at that point.
High school started, and for four years, I couldn't care less about baseball. Didn't know who was in the World Series any of the years, and didn't care. I cared about pimple remedies and listing to Living Colour. Not necessarily in that order.
Going away to college got me back into the Giants. I started to get homesick, and identify myself with anything San Francisco. The Giants became a curiosity of mine, and I remember picking up a 1996 Athlon baseball preview magazine for a Greyhound trip home. Perhaps I was grateful to the game of baseball for providing a magazine that would allow me to not make eye contact with any of the freaks and mutants that are on a Greyhound at any given moment. Perhaps. All I know is that the magazine kept my rapt attention for the whole 561 hours I was on that particular hellwagon.
I still didn't know anything about the game, at least relative to what I do now. My roommate, not a baseball fan, asked about the Giants new shortstop. I wasn't sure how to describe him. Was he going to be a Hall-of-Famer when he retired? I told my roommate he had a good chance, and the Giants were lucky to have him. Shawon Dunston, you had a pretty big fan back in the day.
With no one in Oregon to talk Giant baseball with, I had to rely on a newfangled invention known as the internet, or, "The Net", for short. I found the Usenet group alt.sports.baseball.sf-giants, and took to the community there. My ignorance would occasionally be exposed, but I started to learn. The fledging Baseball Prospectus and rec.sport.baseball started teaching me why RBIs are useless in player evaluation.
Then there was the 1997 season. I went to about thirty games that summer. I remember Mark Lewis hitting a grand slam against the Mets. I remember Kirk Rueter's war yelp after he struck out Todd Zeile, and I remember the Santa Rosa hotel room I watched it from. That season of improbable beauty was what made sure I would never leave the game again.
If Shawn Estes didn't have as good a season as he did, I might not be here writing today. So you can blame that on him as well. If you prefer, you can just blame him for the long-winded, messy post you just read. And for the 2000 playoffs. And the ten-speed bike that went missing in '92. Works for me.