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Giants Outlast Angels in a Game of Firsts

Barry Bonds homers in the World Series opener, and San Francisco holds on. Still, Anaheim fans have faith in their team to come back yet again.

October 20, 2002|Geoffrey Mohan and Kimi Yoshino | Times Staff Writers

First blood in the war between the Californians was drawn by the San Francisco Giants in a 4-3 victory Saturday night over the Anaheim Angels that provided enough firsts to put sports shows into extra innings.

It was the first World Series game ever played in Anaheim, and the first to feature two wild-card teams. And now the Angels have lost the first game of each of the three postseason series they've played this year.

If that weren't enough firsts, slugger Barry Bonds made his first appearance in a World Series, promptly launching a 2-1 pitch 418 feet over the right-field wall in the second inning, to become the 26th major leaguer to homer in his initial at-bat in the major leagues' biggest show. Bonds' shot also might be the first home run to be retrieved by an FBI agent.

It was enough to get Super-Angel fans nervous early. Two fans from Whittier who wore Batman and Superman outfits with big A's on the chest, Gus Garcia, 20, and Mike Weaver, 21, didn't sit down and seldom stopped.

"We have seats, but it's kind of a superstitious kind of thing," Weaver said. "If we sit down, the Angels start to fall behind."

After Bonds' home run, they cut the conversation short to wend their way through a stadium packed with 44,603 fans. "That's OK, we'll get back into it," Weaver said.

Two batters later, though, Giant Reggie Sanders swatted a shot into the center-field stands, right into the hands of a man dressed in a Rally Monkey suit, who promptly threw the ball back, to thunderous applause.

Scott Parkin, 24, a season ticket holder from Laguna Niguel, spent $215 for the outfit, which he wore in every playoff game. "I had perfect vision, all the way from the bat to my glove," he said. "The ball just landed directly in my glove. I was so excited to get it, and then I realized it was a Giant ball.... I think it's worth more that I threw it back."

Parkin was being congratulated well into the Angels' half of the inning, when Troy Glaus joined the first-at-bat homer club with a solo shot. That put the score at 2-1, Giants, where it stayed for a while.

Thunder sticks, superstitious superheroes in tights and capes, men with angel wings exchanging compliments like "Now, those are monkeys" were all in a cool mid-autumn evening's madness, Orange County-style.

Up in the worst seats possible, Andrew Wiggins, 25, and Jeff Reenders settled into Section 540, Row 12, a bit surprised that their $110 tickets didn't come with binoculars. Neither of them had any idea what kind of view they had bought on the Internet until they got to Edison International Field. "We had a suspicion, but we weren't quite sure," Wiggins said. "I think maybe we are in the worst seats in the stadium, but in my mind they're the best seats."

After all, Wiggins noted, the aisle ended right at their seats, giving them plenty of legroom and no one to step over to get beer. "You do get a little dizzy, sitting up this high," Wiggins said. But what a view they got of the fireworks, which exploded nearly at eye level over center field.

Kurt McFall, a 39-year-old Aliso Viejo contractor, got the best parking spot -- a handicapped space only a few hundred feet from home plate. But McFall had to arrive at 11 a.m. to get it. By game time, piles of pistachio and peanut shells surrounded his white pickup, where McFall sat in a lawn chair, munching away, posting two signs: "I see red people," and "I need one ticket."

A game regular who said his signs never fail to draw ticket-sellers, McFall bought and re-sold three tickets during the day before scoring a face-value seat well after Jackie Autry, widow of team founder Gene Autry, had thrown out the first pitch. "Trust me, I'd be here if I had to hop the fence," McFall said.

About the only spectators clueless to the whole spectacle were visiting Belgians Gerald Deschamps and Patrick Diels, two chefs on an exchange program with Aramark, a catering company. Sure, it's a nice game, they acknowledged politely, but you should taste the Flemish stew we made for the stadium's Diamond Club!

"We don't know anything about baseball," Deschamps said, when asked whether he cared who wins. "I think John Travolta is here," he added, excitedly. "I love his movies."

By the sixth inning, the Giants added two more runs on another homer, by ex-Angel J.T. Snow. Abused Giant fan Dave Bressoud, 41, of Bakersfield, shouted at Angel fans: "Where's those thunder-clappers now?"

He was joined in the center-field club level by a gaggle of fellow San Franciscans who said they had been pelted by ice, peanuts and insults all during the game. "You've got a bunch of uneducated, fair-weather fans," Bressoud complained. "They have ATSD, Attention Thunder-Stick Disorder."

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