Grateful Dead, Cable Cars and The World Champion San Francisco Giants


For the first time, the San Francisco Giants celebrated a World Series title with a victory parade through their city, and in so doing certainly established several baseball parade firsts:

  • A Grateful Dead reference made by the mayor of the winning city.
  • A red thong displayed by the champions’ preeminent power hitter.
  • A thick scent of marijuana wafting through the air, hours after a proposition to legalize its possession was defeated by the state’s voters.

Yes, the cable cars and orange and black confetti only were the beginning of the “only in San Francisco” touches to the victory celebration for a team as unique as its city. The Giants estimated the crowd count at 1 million, which would exceed the city’s actual population.

Rally Thong proprietor Aubrey Huff, sipping a light beer on a cable car alongside teammate Pat Burrell, wore his iconic underwear on the exterior of his jeans during the ride to City Hall. Later, in a Zoolander-inspired feat of strength, he closed the City Hall rally by unearthing the threads from his jeans.

In case anyone forgot, the governor of California is, naturally, one of the biggest-grossing box office stars of all time. But the left-leaning crowd mixed in a fair share of boos for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who made a game effort to boost his street cred as a Giants fan by dropping references to one of the many team slogans (“Feah the beahhd,” he said, in his best Terminator tone) and also to The Machine.

Fans lined the parade route, hanging out of trees and lampposts for a better view. Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Willie McCovey were among those riding in convertibles down the route, with Mays a welcome sight for fans after he was too ill to attend pregame cereomines for Game 1 of the World Series.

By Giants 2010 standards, the tone was relatively calm yet undeniably joyous.

A half-dozen Giants spoke at the parade-closing rally, and much of the tension eased when ace pitcher Tim Lincecum kept his comments G-rated, a departure from several of his saltier live TV moments this season.

The Giants’ Spanish-speaking stars took the stage together, with postseason hero Juan Uribe leading the crowd in a chant that filled AT&T Park often this October — “Ooh-Ribe!”

Mayor Gavin Newsom — elected the state’s lieutenant governor the night before — quoted late Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia in his comments, presented the key to the city to managing partner Bill Neukom and suggested colorful closer Brian Wilson replace him as mayor.

Perhaps the most poignant remarks came from general manager Brian Sabean, whose tenure began with a controversial trade of slugger Matt Williams after the 1996 season. His wheeling and dealing this year eventually produced a coherent lineup capable of giving just enough support to what ultimately became the postseason’s most potent pitching staff.

The season’s theme was “Torture,” and the tone struck by Sabean was a fitting coda.

“There’s a reason they won the World Series,” he said, glancing out at his players. “They won it because they were respectful, they showed great humility through the whole ride and they were like junkyard dogs in a fight.

“It took a village mentality to raise this team. In spring training, we had the mentality that there was no difference between the bat boy and the owner.”

By Gabe Lacques

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