Hunter Pence played the last six and a half seasons with the Giants and became somewhat of a fixture of San Francisco. It was hard to believe we’d ever see him in another uniform again. But good things cannot last forever.
The Giants sent Pence off with a ceremony and a new scooter at the end of last season, giving him the opportunity a lot of players who either leave in the off-season or don’t end up playing again don’t get to have: their last moment in the sun with the fans who adore them.
Pence played winter ball in the Dominican Republic, hoping to get his swing going and hopefully make a MLB roster for the 2019 season. He got close, recently signing a minor league deal (with a camp invite) with the Texas Rangers, which will hopefully take him back to his home state, should he make the team.
He penned an article in The Players’ Tribune this morning, in which he shared his gratitude and some of his most treasured memories from his time in the city by the bay, including this recounting of the Travis Ishikawa walk-off in the 2014 NLCS:
I’m thankful we can always share that special feeling of when Travis Ishikawa hit a walk-off homer to send us to the World Series, and from my experience I’ve never had a more chaotic, blissful, euphoric, ecstatic moment on a baseball field. The world through my eyes was SHAKING and I can honestly say we (the Giants) were backed by fans believing in us even more than usual.
He tells stories of how he was welcomed by fans right after he was traded from Philadelphia and how fans have lifted his spirits over the years, including his take on the missing scooter story, where the fans, media and local businesses kicked into gear and helped get it back.
...One day my scooter got stolen, something that tends to happen when you leave it unlocked while you’re eating dinner. Not only did social media blow up with pictures from fans telling me they were looking for my scooter, but restaurants also started offering rewards, such as free noodles for a year and free dinners at the best steakhouses. It made such a ruckus that it became a ticker on ESPN … Hunter Pence’s Scooter Stolen … and about three days later on the ticker … Hunter Pence’s Scooter Returned!! LOL. I felt so smothered in support, love, and care that I couldn’t help but smile and hope to repay the favor in some small way.
It’s a story we all remember, but one I think that sometimes gets overlooked in terms of what this team, and the players, really mean to our community and how being a fan can bring us together for a greater good.
For example, we just saw people come together to help Julie Parker, a reporter who covers the team for SFBay.ca after her laptop was stolen at FanFest. The community quickly rallied to help her, putting together a fundraiser that raised enough money to replace her computer in less than 24 hours.
Because that’s the kind of fan base we aspire to be, on the whole. One that comes together to track down Hunter Pence’s scooter, raise money for the Bryan Stow Foundation and the Giants Community Fund, or replace Julie Parker’s laptop.
So it’s nice to know that, though he is leaving us, Pence will remember the best we had to give him, just as we will remember the best he had to give us.
Thank you, Hunter!