After starting lineup announcements punctuated by fireworks, California band Capital Cities playing the National Anthem and an aerial show by the Coast Guard, Miles Scott, known nationwide as San Francisco’s young hero Batkid, rode out in his Batmobile — a surprise met with cheers from the crowd familiar with his story.
The 5-year-old cancer survivor currently in remission threw a first pitch that didn’t go too far, but reached the hearts of Giants fans, many who rallied last year when San Francisco turned into Gotham City to make Miles’ Make-A-Wish dream come true.
“I loved it,” Modesto resident Heidy Banghart said of Batkid’s performance. “I’m a cancer survivor, so it touched my heart. I just cried.”
Planning for Batkid’s first pitch started in January, Giants spokeswoman Shana Daum told The San Francisco Examiner, and he was chosen because of what he inspired.
“He brought the whole community together back in November,” Daum said. “And really, our theme, ‘All Together, Stronger Together,’ is we’re one — the players, the fans. So we felt it could represent all of us together and be a great reminder of Batkid, who brought the community together.”
Banghart, who still takes three chemotherapy pills each day, said the Giants’ home opener is the big event for her every year. She even made an orange, black and white tutu for the occasion.
“I had wings but they wouldn’t fit. They take up four seats,” she said. “It was inspired by Angel Pagan. That’s my daughter’s favorite player. And mine is [Buster] Posey.”
The 73-degree game marked the 247th consecutive sellout at AT&T Park, the longest active regular-season home sellout streak in Major League Baseball. This season, the franchise reported 30,021 full-season ticket holders, which surpasses the 30,000 mark for the first time.
Tim Hudson pitched a memorable home opener in the Giants’ 7-3 win over the Diamondbacks. The former A’s and Atlanta Braves right-hander’s first comment in postgame interviews was that it “feels great to be back out there. It’s a great atmosphere. The fans are awesome.”
The highlight for Giants pitcher Sergio Romo was a tie between being back at AT&T Park with his teammates and fans who have supported them “beyond consistently,” and meeting Batkid himself.
“A lot of us didn’t know that was going to go down,” he said of meeting Miles in the dugout. “We were joking that Batkid rolls around in a better car than us. I got a chance to meet his parents and signed my hat off my head and gave it to him.”
Giants pitcher Javier Lopez added, “The energy level here is second to none.”
Fans were loud in their support and expectations for the team that didn’t make it into the postseason last year after winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012.
San Mateo resident Susan Adler, a physician who worked all night to make sure she could attend the home opener, hopes the Giants will be first in their division this year.
“They always say the team you start with is not the team you end with,” she said. “I like the team we’re starting with so far and I don’t think we could ask for a better lineup.”
Her husband, Kent Adler, repeated a mantra among many Giants fans when it comes to winning the World Series: “Every other year. 2010, 2012, now 2014.”
The home opener, in Banghart’s words, had something for everybody.
“It was emotional; it was happy,” she said. “Baseball just brings it back home.”