I am so lucky to be a sports fan in the Bay Area. Even luckier that I have the time and knowledge to appreciate what's happened this past year.
The last time I remember the Bay Area having dominant sports teams was in the 1980s. I was really young back then, so I can only speculate on the chronological order of events. One of my first memories was having a joint birthday and Super Bowl watching party. The 49ers were playing and I remember thinking that they would win because Joe Montana was quarterback. Indeed, they won that year and the year after. To this day, Joe Montana is still my favorite quarterback.
Another memory was the 1988 United States presidential elections. My parents took me along to the polling place, and while I was there I remember someone asking, "Who are you going to vote for, Bush or Dukakis?" My enthusiastic response: "JOSE CANSECO! With Mark McGuire as Vice-President!"
The next year, I was playing with my cousin and waiting for game 3 of the World Series to start when the living room started shaking, prompting my family to evacuate the house. Definitely a moment that many in the Bay Area will never forget.
Once I started school, I just didn't follow sports as much. I recall following the Golden State Warriors for a few years and catching baseball and football every now and then. I also maintained a baseball collection, which is currently collecting dust on top my bookshelf. In college, I followed my school's basketball and football teams, but that was only because I was in the marching band and attended almost every game.
Several months after I finished college in 2010, the San Francisco Giants went to the World Series. Reading and learning about the team through the internet and news, I couldn't help but gravitate towards their personalities and individual stories. Spending Halloween in San Francisco, I was immediately drawn into the excitement as I was surrounded by people and stores with orange decor and signs supporting the home team. Watching the game on TV, I was engrossed by the excitement of the sport. Unlike people around me who find baseball boring, I found it suspenseful, gripping, and exciting. After 20 years, I was hooked on baseball yet again.
Sadly, I had to miss the World Series Championship Parade because of work, so I promised myself I wouldn't miss the next one. In 2011, I watched/listened to every single Giants game of the season, whether on TV, radio, or at AT&T Park. I essentially did the same thing in 2012, except I watched playoff games at various restaurants with other fans. When the Giants clinched the NLCS I was at a restaurant in Walnut Creek, high-fiving complete strangers. We were so busy celebrating that we didn't realize that the same rainstorm that hit San Francisco that night was headed in our direction, resulting in many drenched fans as we ran to our cars.
During the World Series, I loitered around outside AT&T Park, taking in the sights. A number of TVs were set up outside the stadium, so you didn't need to go to a bar to watch the game. The only problem was the TV delay, causing us to hear the crowds inside of the stadium cheering before actually seeing it on TV 10 seconds later. I spend game 4 with thousands of people in Civic Center Square, and subsequently got sprayed with champagne and apple cider. As per my promise, I booked a hotel along the parade route and had a front row spot as the team drove past. Best Halloween parade ever and definitely one of the more memorable Octobers I've had.
Now, another San Francisco team is about to play in football's biggest event. Instead of being orange, San Francisco's City Hall and Coit Tower are colored red and gold. 49er shirts, which were on sale a few months ago, are now impossible to find. At work yesterday, many of my coworkers were wearing jerseys and NFC Championship shirts. While not everyone loves sports, there's no denying that the 49ers have once again united San Francisco.
It's a great time to be a Bay Area sports fan, and I'm definitely enjoying the fun while it last. I mean, how often do we get a local baseball team and football team in championship games within the same year? So glad I've come to love and appreciate sports again!