Giants embrace franchise's roots with celebratory trip to Big Apple
By Paul Casella
Giants president and CEO Larry Baer made an appearance on Saturday afternoon at Finnerty's sports bar in New York City, for what he joked is becoming a "biennial party."
While Baer met with fans and posed for pictures, the true guest of honor -- for the third time in the past five years -- was the World Series trophy.
Fans braved the 30-degree weather to line up on the snow-covered sidewalks hours before Finnerty's even opened in order to secure their chance to take a picture with the coveted hardware. Though the event wasn't scheduled to begin until 2 p.m. -- and Finnerty's doesn't normally open until noon -- approximately a dozen fans were lined up outside the establishment as early as 8:30 in the morning.
"We told them we'd get them in here as soon as we could, but they didn't seem to mind standing out in the cold at all," said Dieter Seelig, who owns the bar along with business partner Brian Stapleton. "This is a fan base that never ceases to amaze me with its passion for the team."
The number of people waiting to see the trophy steadily grew throughout the morning and a steady line of fans poured through the bar well into the late afternoon. One of those fans was Patrick Morton, a 41-year-old Manhattan resident whose loyalty to the Giants can be traced back to a time before he was even alive.
Though the club relocated to San Francisco before Morton was born, he grew up watching the team as often as he could with his father and grandfather, both of whom would often relay stories about the team's days as the New York Giants.
"I'm born and raised here in New York City, but I've been a die-hard Giants fan my whole life because of my grandpa," said Morton, whose two children were fully decked out in Giants gear as the family posed behind the trophy. "I grew up constantly hearing stories from him, mostly about watching Willie Mays at the old Polo Grounds. Even though the team moved away however many years ago, our family is on its fourth generation of Giants fans now and hopefully it keeps going."
As an organization, the Giants do their best to stay close to those roots, as well. Prior to the festivities at Finnerty's, Baer visited P.S. 46, a school situated on the site of the fifth version of the Polo Grounds, where the Giants played from 1911-57. Mays also made an appearance at the school, just as he did when the Giants made this trip in 2011 to show off the franchise's first World Series trophy since the New York Giants won the 1954 Fall Classic.
"It's really important to get back to our roots," Baer said. "A lot of people forget that this is an organization that spent more time in New York than we have in San Francisco so far. We love our heritage."
And there's no question that the team still has a strong fan base in the New York area.
Though it wasn't quite the same atmosphere as Oct. 29, when Giants fans packed Finnerty's to watch the club seal its latest title, many fans stuck around after taking their pictures on Saturday to watch the replay of that Game 7 victory on the bar's dozens of televisions. They again celebrated and high-fived as Pablo Sandoval made the catch for the final out -- but only after letting out a collective gasp when Alex Gordon's two-out liner bounced past center fielder Gregor Blanco and rolled all the way to the wall.
"It's hard to believe, but it's almost controlled chaos at this point," Seelig said. "We know exactly what to expect in terms of the people showing up and how it's going to work because we've been able to practice it two times. And it just seems to get better and better every time."
To insure the trophy's safe arrival, it was buckled into its own first-class seat alongside Baer for a cross-country flight from San Francisco to New York's JFK airport. Fellow passengers stopped to take pictures with it, and Giants officials marched it up and down the aisles to show it off.
The journey to New York City is all part of a three-month public tour with the trophy. It began on Jan. 7 and will wrap up at Scottsdale Stadium, the club's Spring Training home in Scottsdale, Ariz., during three games from March 27-29.
"It's a trophy and everyone's very proud of it," Baer said. "We don't want to hide it."
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.