Oracle Park back to normal as big Giants crowds set to return originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
For the first time in years, Oracle Park is going to feel like it did during the glory years, when a record sellout streak accompanied a team that won three World Series titles in half a decade.
The Giants are back in first place, and they'll enter this weekend's series against the A's with the biggest division lead -- 4 1/2 games -- in baseball. Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford are playing like All-Stars, and the starting staff is a strength.
This weekend, Giants fans will even be able to sit back and enjoy a Crazy Crab Sandwich.
The sandwich, one of the signature offerings at Oracle Park, actually quietly returned to the stand in the Scoreboard Plaza last weekend, part of a continued effort to get back to normal at Third and King. The rest of the missing signature food items are on the way back, too, soon joining garlic fries and Ghirardelli ice cream, which were on the limited menu over the last two-plus months. Because the Giants have had a limited capacity with fans distanced, they have so far had the same menu in every section of the ballpark, keeping fans from having to wander too much.
"We were limited to first 8,000 (fans) and 10,000 and 13,000 and it's kind of an operation to do the crab sandwiches the way you need to do them and you had some areas of the ballpark that were limited in attendance," team president and CEO Larry Baer said on the Giants Talk podcast this week. "But we are committed to the Crazy Crab Sandwich (for this weekend) and if I hear any issues coming from our concession group, I'll jump out in a boat and start crabbing."
That won't be necessary, as Baer should be able to sit in his usual seats alongside the home dugout and look around at the biggest crowd since 41,909 fans filled Oracle Park on Sept. 29, 2019, for Bruce Bochy's final game. The ballpark was filled with cutout fans last season and the Giants have incrementally increased capacity this season under state and city guidelines.
This season's biggest home Giants crowd came last Sunday when 18,265 watched a win over the Philadelphia Phillies. On Tuesday in Anaheim, the Giants played in front of 28,354, their biggest crowd anywhere since 2019. The Angels, like the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, have seen big crowds since California reopened on June 15, but the Giants decided to wait for this weekend's Bay Bridge Series for their own reopening. Baer said the Giants weren't waiting for the rivalry games.
"Even though the state and city opened June 15 we had already offered our season-ticket holders a package of socially distanced tickets that went through June 20, so we wanted to honor that pledge that we made to them," Baer said.
The increased capacity and food options aren't the only ways Oracle Park is getting back to normal. The Giants will hand out a Mike Yastrzemski bobblehead -- originally scheduled for early last season -- on Saturday and have fireworks after Friday night's game. BART announced earlier this week that limited postgame service will return Friday, increasing transportation options for fans on both sides of the Bay Bridge.
There still will be holdovers from the last few months, though.
The Giants have seen success with their ballpark app food ordering system and would like to keep that around long-term. The app helped the Giants get through the first couple of months this season, when fans were distanced and had to prove that they had either been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19. Baer said there were very few overall issues during the soft reopening, and everyone at Oracle Park is excited to get back to the way it used to be.
"Here we are, it's back and it's magical and the team has been playing so well and everybody is ready," he said. "We want to have that communal feeling now, that thanks to everybody's safe efforts, it's now safe to have outdoor full ballpark openings."