The San Francisco Giants will celebrate the tenth anniversary of their first game at AT&T Park on April 9th versus the Atlanta Braves.
Wow, it’s already been ten years since this ballpark opened and it has seen a World Series, a plethora of home run records courtesy of Barry Bonds, an All-Star Game, a no-hitter, and two consecutive Cy Young seasons courtesy of Tim Lincecum.
It’s been a great decade for Pacific Bell Park (named until 2003), SBC Park (until 2005), and finally AT&T Park, as it was renamed on March 3, 2006. The AT&T is always in the top rankings when scribes praise this gem on the bay and for good reason. It’s a class facility and provides a consistently great experience for the entire family. Hats off to AT&T. Maybe within this next decade, the stadium will get to see one more thing that the San Francisco Giants have never achieved — a championship.
In other news, we lost a great man and a magnificent bartender when Rick Loberg passed away in February. Rick was a sports fan’s dream, because he always made sure that he would get your particular game on at least one of the many TV sets at the Bus Stop Bar on Union Street. He didn’t care if you wanted to watch an obscure game (like Bradley vs. Murray State, for example) and that’s why he was a great sports bartender. He will be dearly missed.
Speaking of bartenders, if you ever want a good sports prediction, ask a bartender. I polled several and asked them which baseball teams they think will be in the World Series this year and who will be the champs in 2010.
Paul McManus, the Bus Stop Bar: “I like the Phillies in the NL and either the Red Sox of the Mariners in the AL. I don’t think the Yankees will repeat. And I think the Phillies will win it all.”
Gil Hodges III, Liverpool Lil’s (He’s not exactly a bartender, he’s one of the owners - but he knows his baseball.) “I see a repeat of last year’s World Series, with Philly and the Yanks back in the final. And I think this year the Phillies get revenge on the Bombers. I like Philly.”
Kevin Corrigan, Blue Light: “I always want to see the Giants and the Red Sox in the World Series every year, but this season it might actually happen. I pick the Red Sox to defeat the Giants in seven games.”
Kevin Young, Perry’s: “I’m going with the Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals with the Cards to take it all. But, only if they don’t trade Albert Puljos.”
I’ve interviewed more than 60 retired baseball players in my life, including two Hall of Famers (Willie Mays and Dick Williams) and one of the best interviews I ever did was when I talked with the late Dario Lodigiana. Lodigiani enjoyed a 17-year baseball career from 1935-1954, playing parts of six seasons in the majors and 14 in the minor leagues, losing three years while serving in military from 1943 to 1945. Lodigiani played at Lowell High School in San Francisco, with his lifelong friend Joe DiMaggio, and then later graduated from Galileo High School in the Marina.
When I interviewed Dario at his home in Napa, he was 91, recognized at that time as one of the oldest living major league ballplayers. He died eight months after my interview, at the age of 92. Here are a few excerpts from that interview:
On Joe DiMaggio’s competitive nature: “We were playing the Yankees when I was with Philadelphia and it was just a normal day, not a big game or anything. And I was playing second base when Joe came sliding in real hard, knocking me ass-over-teacups. Then, he got up, brushed his pants off a couple of times and never said Doo, hello, squat, or nothing – he just ran off to the dugout. He had a real hard look on his face and was just staring straight ahead. You would never have known that we grew up together by the way he was acting.”
On meeting Marilyn for the first time: “We were playing in a golf tournament at the Merced Country Club, and afterwards all of the guys went to a bar in San Francisco. Dominic DiMaggio was partners in this bar. And our buddy Reno Barsocchini was serving drinks – just to help out. ‘Hey, Dario!’ Barsocchini called out. ‘Go down that hall and turn left, the first door you come to. There’s a guy down there who wants to see you.’ So I walked down there and sitting in a chair was Joe DiMaggio. And sitting on his lap was Marilyn Monroe! I was shocked to see her there, I did not expect it. I said, ‘Good Night! Oh my God!’ Talk about a beautiful girl!”
On a fishing trip with Marilyn and Joe: “Joe asked me if I wanted to go out fishing with them. It was Joe’s boat, The Yankee Clipper – the one they gave him on Joe DiMaggio Day. We motored back and forth in the Bay all morning - nothing was biting - and then Marilyn hooked a big one – a striper that grabbed her line and took off with it. ‘Hold on,” I told her. ‘When the fish lets up, that’s when you reel him in a little. See?’ That fish was just eating her up and you could tell she was getting real tired. She could barely hold on to her pole. The fish seemed to be twice as strong as she was. So, I told Joe, ‘You better help her, Joe. She’s having a hell of a time with that fish.” Joe said, ‘She hooked it. Let her bring it in.’ And boy, was Marilyn struggling. She had that pole jammed up under her arm and she couldn’t hold on to it because her hands were so tiny, so she was hugging the pole to her body with her left arm and trying to reel it in with her right hand. She had the pole pushing up against her bosoms real hard. It was pressing against her breasts quite a bit. So, I told Joe, ‘You better take that pole. She’s going to pop one of those things!’ Joe got a kick out of that. We all laughed and laughed. But, damned if Marilyn didn’t bring in that fish.”