You could call it the return of torture. But in the end, the good guys won with a walk-off hit by Aaron Rowand in the 12th inning of the Giants’ home opener Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals at a sold-out AT&T Park.
They were packed in before the first pitch to see a bit more of history from the peculiar group of players that advanced to the playoffs on the last day of the 2010 season, and mustered enough momentum to go all the way with it.
Closer Brian Wilson did the honor of raising San Francisco’s first World Series championship flag over right field. The memento began in the hands of Giants legend Willie Mays, then down the line of current players, finally to the eccentric bearded pitcher, whose facial hair has emerged from the offseason slightly more fierce.
Wilson ran with the flag from the dugout area into the outfield, where he climbed a set of stairs on the wall and hoisted the orange pennant up the flag pole. Before doing the honors, Wilson addressed the screaming crowd.
“We won this as a team,” Wilson said. “We won this as a community.”
McCovey Cove was full of its usual watercraft, and a cool but sunny day greeted the fans for the matinee start. Tributes were paid to the 2010 National League Championship Series MVP winner Cody Ross, and to Tim Lincecum, winner of the baseball writers’ Babe Ruth Award for best overall player in the postseason, having won four of five starts.
Lou Seal was doing the usual hip-tossing atop the dugout as tense extra innings broke into pandemonium at times. Another mascot, however, said he also wants to become an institution. A man who would only reveal himself as “Turbo,” clad in a full-body bright-orange spandex, said he will be at almost all games this season, in the nosebleeds, but always there.
“My secret power is stealing guys’ girlfriends,” Turbo said. “When I put on this suit, I am 99 percent ninja, and 1 percent awesome.”
Announcers also made mention of severely injured Giants fan Bryan Stow, who is clinging to life in a Los Angeles hospital after he was attacked in the parking lot after last week’s Giants-Dodgers season opener. As the scoreboard flashed a picture of Stow, fans began chanting “Beat L.A.”
Stow’s two children were also at the Giants’ home opener Friday at AT&T Park, where they held signs saying “Pray for our dad.” Monday’s Giants game against the Dodgers in San Francisco will be dedicated to Bryan Stow, with donations being taken at the gates.