10/06/2002 9:13 pm ET
Bay Area fans stay busy
Giants, A's, 49ers all at home Sunday
By Chris Shuttlesworth / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Sunday was a Bay Area sports fan's heaven and hell combined, as both Major League teams hosted pivotal playoff games and the NFL's 49ers were also at home. What was a fan supposed to do to sample as much of the sports smorgasbord as possible?
An hour before the Giants played the Braves in Game 4 of their Division Series, Pacific Bell Park became a 43,000-seat sports bar, with the final innings of the Twins-A's game across the Bay playing out on the Astrovision. As many fans cheered and groaned every play, Cindy and Tony Smith of Reno, Nev., settled breathlessly into their seats, having just arrived from the 49ers-Rams game at Candlestick Park.
"We left in the third quarter, so it took us about 10 minutes to get from there to here," said Cindy Smith, wearing a Terrell Owens jersey.
"If they hadn't been so far ahead, we wouldn't be here," said Tony Smith, whose 49ers dismantled the Rams, 37-13. "We'd still be there and be late to this game."
While the Smiths, 49ers season ticketholders, said they had little interest in the American League game in Oakland, it was clear many others did. The crowd erupted when Minnesota's A.J. Pierzynski hit a ninth-inning homer, but there were also cheers when the A's Mark Ellis homered in the bottom of the ninth before Oakland lost, 5-4, to be eliminated from the postseason.
"A true San Francisco fan never loves Oakland because it's a crosstown rivalry," declared Gary Mathes of Redwood Shores, Calif. "Those hats with the stupid [split] on them [with a Giants logo on one side and an A's logo on the other] are the most ridiculous things, because either you're a fan for one team or the other."
Mathes saw the beginning of the 49ers game at home and then finished watching it at Pacific Bell Park's Acme Chophouse restaurant. He said he even stuck with his San Francisco allegiance while dating a Raiders cheerleader in the 1970s.
While there were many fans wearing 49ers gear at the park, there were far more Braves caps than A's logos to be found, presumably because those fans were at Network Associates Coliseum. But among the sea of orange-and-black-clad fans sat Dale Carlson, wearing a Twins cap with a Giants T-shirt, jersey and earrings.
A professional musician originally from Minnesota but who moved to San Francisco 14 years ago, Carlson had her binoculars trained on the game on the scoreboard.
"The Giants are my favorite team, and the Twins are my second-favorite team," she said. "I'm hoping to see my dream World Series this year, because it almost happened in 1987."
Even if the Twins weren't the ones beating the A's, Carlson would still be thrilled, her hatred of the A's percolating after the 1989 World Series and reaching a full boil in 1993, when the Giants won 103 games but lost the division title to the Braves on the last day of the season.
"I was in Oakland that day, and the Oakland fans were cheering for Atlanta and they were cheering for the Dodgers to beat the Giants," said Carlson, who estimated she's been to about 700 Major League games, including 101 in 1993 alone. "I hated the A's fans, and I've hated them ever since."
The Twins victory not only made it "a fantastic day" for Carlson, it gave her hope for the Giants.
"[I want] to see the same happen in the National League as what happened with the Twins-Oakland series -- lose pivotal Game 3 [in your home park], come back and win Games 4 and 5 in the [corresponding] ballparks."
Before the Twins finished off the A's, Oakland-hater Mathes had one wish, and by the time Livan Hernandez threw his first pitch to the Braves' Rafael Furcal, half of it had come true.
"Now all we gotta do is win today, and it'll be good for the Bay Area," he said. "I'm hoping Oakland doesn't win and then we lose, because that'll be the worst thing that could happen."
Chris Shuttlesworth is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.