SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — For the first time since a sellout crowd saluted Bruce Bochy in his final game as San Francisco Giants manager in September 2019, fans once again walked through the turnstiles at Oracle Park for the Giants home opener Friday.
Opening Day at Oracle will look quite different in 2021 as the city’s public health order will allow the ballpark to operate at 22% capacity, and fans 12 and older will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. Face masks and social distancing will be strictly enforced, the team said.READ MORE: Two Die In East Oakland Sunday Night Shooting
As the coronavirus pandemic began last year, Major League Baseball was in the middle of the 2020 Spring Training. By mid-March, the remainder of the preseason was canceled and baseball took a hiatus until a 60-game season began on July with no fans in attendance.
“We’re just thrilled to welcome a limited number of fans back to the ballpark for our home opener,” said Staci Slaughter, Giants Executive Vice President of Communications. “If you think about it, so much has changed since we were last here. It was Bruce Bochy’s retirement ceremony, the community has gone through quite a bit over the last year and a half and we’re delighted to all be back together and celebrate the resilience of the community.”
“The San Francisco Department of Public Health would like to thank Giants fans for taking the additional step to get vaccinated or tested before the game. Your cooperation helps keep not only everyone attending and working at the game safe, but also protects our entire community,” said San Francisco’s Acting Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip in a prepared statement. “COVID-19 is still here, including new variants that spread more quickly, and unvaccinated individuals are still at serious risk, so we need to keep up the good work and follow the health guidelines so we can safely enjoy a full season of baseball.”
Those who were lucky enough to be among the 9,000 fans allowed inside Oracle Park Friday were thrilled to attend the game.
“Wonderful to be back. And wonderful to be back in San Francisco, too,” said Chico resident Molly Barnum.
The fans, the food, the good times, it all came back to life inside Oracle Park for the game against the Colorado Rackies, even though the pandemic continues to write most of the rules.
“There we go,” added Barnum’s husband. “We both had two shots.”
As for the process of checking those credentials, the Giants were absolutely ready for it with an army of staff on hand to check paperwork and move people through.READ MORE: Steph Curry, Draymond Green Ready For Play-In Game; Warriors To Take On Lakers Wednesday Night
“That is a first,” said Jeff Iceman of the health precautions. “Never had to do this before.”
When asked what it meant to be back, Iceman replied, “It’s awesome. I am so happy to be back. It’s love. I love being around the people. The town is great. I love this game.”
Maybe more excited than the fans, businesses up and down the Embarcadero where it looked every bit like a sunny opening day.
“It’s a great day,” said Ashley Freiburger, manager at the Hi Dive. “We are very happy. The Giants are back. The people are back. Everyone’s back to work. It’s a great day.”
Fans at Oracle Park were seated in socially distanced pods in nine designated zones throughout the ballpark, with specific entry and exit gates, concessions and restrooms located closest to their seating pods.
Food and beverage will be ordered through a mobile app, and fans will pick up their orders in designated areas in their seating zone.
The Giants said the current restrictions and attendance capacity are expected to evolve during the season as health conditions improve and as more people receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Giants beat the Rockies 3-1 to win the team’s home opener late Friday afternoon.MORE NEWS: Demonstrators Call on San Francisco to Keep Great Highway Closed to Cars
Wilson Walker contributed to this story.