SAN FRANCISCO -- Joe Panik became renowned for his deft touch at second base during last year's World Series. Recently, Panik proved to be just as adept off the field, as he proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Brittany Pinto.
On Dec. 17, Panik and Brittany took a train from the New York suburbs into Manhattan. They planned to explore the city and celebrate Brittany's birthday, which happened to be the next day.
But Panik changed the nature of the entire day -- just as he did in the third inning of World Series Game 7, when he dove for Eric Hosmer's grounder up the middle to start a remarkable double play.
As Panik related, he and Brittany left the train at 72nd street and began strolling through Central Park. Shortly before noon, their walk led them onto Bow Bridge, the famed cast-iron structure that has made cameo appearances in movies such as "Autumn in New York," "Night at the Museum," "Spider-Man 3," "Made of Honor" and "When in Rome."
After seeing one of these movies, Brittany was smitten by the bridge. No wonder; New Yorkers regard it as one of the city's most romantic sites.
"It's a bridge she always liked," Panik said.
Panik and Brittany are high school sweethearts who began dating in 2006 at age 15. But as thoroughly as Brittany knows her man, she was surprised when Panik stopped to ask The Big Question.
"I think I threw her off a little bit," Panik said.
As it turned out, Panik's recollection of Brittany's brief mention of the bridge helped make the proposal special.
"It wasn't anything really crazy," Panik said, "but it was in the middle of Central Park. It was something different. ... I just wanted to make her happy, that's the main thing."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.