World Series trophies a Giant attraction
By Lou Fancher
Arriving at Todos Santos Plaza at 10 a.m. to have his photo taken at 4 p.m. with the San Francisco Giants' 20-pound, sterling silver World Championship Trophy, Lou Bronfeld was packing 54 years of fandom.
Decked out in orange-and-black T-shirt, hat, sweatshirt and even plaid Giants boxers he wasn't too shy to tug up above his belt, the 65-year-old fan from Orinda was first in a line that stretched to encircle the city's block-size plaza.
"I've been giving the Giants my allowance since I was 11," Bronfeld boasted. "Used to be, it was safe enough my parents would let me and a buddy get on Muni and go to Candlestick. This season? I've endured torture, but I knew we'd squeak it out."
The Giants every-other-year "three-peat" win, taking the MLB World Series in 2014 after also winning in 2010 and 2012, resulted in the third tour of the Tiffany & Co. trophy. The trophy's 30 pennants and 24-karat gold vermeil detailing paled in comparison to fans' enthusiasm and the shining purpose of the tour: raising awareness and funds for Junior Giants.
Junior Giants is a free baseball program serving more than 22,000 boys and girls in 87 underserved communities throughout northern and central California and southern Oregon.
Concord Junior Giants Commissioner Ana Villalobos said, "We brought the league to the area because we have nothing like it for kids here. We had 200 kids in 2014 and next year, we're aiming for 300."
Villalobos said people "came together" for the program, with 120 volunteers offering the low-income community more than just an athletic outlet.
"They gained hope," she said, "that someday there'll be a San Francisco Giant from Concord."
Bailey West is a Junior Giants coordinator overseeing 25 of the program's 90 leagues from the team's San Francisco offices. As a Concord native, she said it was particularly gratifying to host the tour in her hometown.
"I grew up in the Crossings, I graduated from Berean Christian High School in Walnut Creek in 2008: all the money we collect stays right here in the community," West said. Viewing the trophy was free, but a $2 donation was suggested and a VIP gathering helped raise funds for the local league.
Expecting about 1,000 people in Concord, she said the $1,000 the league would likely raise would pay for securing the fields for next year's program and provide BART transport for kids who need it and other amenities, like healthy snacks. All of the equipment and training for volunteers at the eight-week league programs are provided by the Giants at no cost to the community.
Kids like Noah Competente, from San Ramon, may never attend a Junior Giants camp, but his 9-year-old heartbeat was aligned with children who play ball and love the team. Noah is a Little League pitcher and had just been named number one player in his hometown, according to his grandfather.
"I felt confident they'd win," the Noah said, about the Giants' final game against the Kansas City Royals to win the 2014 World Series. "They were pitching great. Madison Bumgarner is my favorite: he's left-handed and so am I."
Deep family history, not handedness, played a part in many fans' devotion.
Sarina Aliquo, 32, originally from Chico, said, "I've been a fan since before I was born. Generations back in my family; we love the Giants."
And Pleasant Hill resident Rick Becker said, "I've been through cold and wet (at Candlestick) and I was at opening day at AT&T Park. My parents raised me on the Giants. It's a family tradition."
Becker, remembering the past season's struggles, said "July happened."
But summarizing the gist of conversations overheard all around the plaza, he said: "It's all about never losing patience. We're not worried about next year; we're talking about 2016 -- keeping the tradition going."