10/24/2002 8:33 pm ET
Best seat in San Francisco's house
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- What's the cheapest World Series ticket you can buy at Pacific Bell Park this week? Two hundreds dollars? Five hundred? A thousand?
Not even close. At Pacific Bell Park, you can watch a World Series game just a stone's throw from the players, and it won't cost you a dime.
Perhaps the most appealing area in San Francisco's jewel of a ballpark is located below the out-of-town scoreboards in right field, where fans can peer through a set of chain-linked fences and watch the action just a few feet from the warning track.
Think "knothole gang" from the mid-20th century, when kids could peer through the fences at the old ballparks and watch games, free of charge.
Giants president and managing general partner Peter Magowan remembered his days rooting for the Giants as a kid growing up in New York. Many kids his age would watch games at the Polo Grounds from behind those chain-link fences. Fast-foward a half-century or so, and Magowan wanted to make sure that knothole concept was represented at new Pacific Bell Park.
The process of peering through the fences is a bit more complicated now than it was back in the old days. It's more structured, and people have to wait in long lines to have a chance to view the action from behind the right field fence.
Prior to Game 5 of the World Series, the first group of 24 is let in around three hours before gametime and is permitted to stay there until the conclusion of the third inning. This crew is able to watch both teams take batting practice as well as the first portion of the game. Without a doubt, they get the best deal.
After the third frame, those folks are set free and another group of 24 is let in. They stay there for the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Group No. 3, well ... they deserve some sort of merit badge just for having to wait so long. Most of this group arrived when the first group did, but they won't actually be let in until the seventh inning ... which hits around 8 p.m PST.
But it's well worth it. Just ask Jim Robison, who was part of the lucky group No. 1.
"I've sat out there," he said, referring to the actual seats for paying customers at Pacific Bell Park. "This is a lot better because you're right next to the players. This is better than most of the seats I've had out there. The players come over and talk to you, sign autographs, hand balls through the fence."
Robison, who also watched a portion of Game 4 from the knothole area, said the atmosphere is often more festive than you'll find inside the ballpark.
"You get more from the game here," he said. "It was a lot more fun, like last night when the Giants scored all those runs, and everyone's out here high-fiving and hugging ... you don't get that in the stands as much. Here, they're running around and dancing. You get to know people."
Heckling opposing players is all part of the fun of peering through the chain-linked fence, and rowdy group of gentlemen -- Andy, Phil, Jim, David, Justin, Eric and Ryan -- have that part down to a tee.
And it won't cost them a dime.
"That's the best part about it," Jim said. "We came down for the parties, and then after we get kicked out of here, we'll go out to the van and watch it on TV."
Added Eric: "(Livan) Hernandez was just over here signing autographs."
World Series fever is not exclusive to Californians. David Cohen, 24, and his buddies, Brett Kemp, 23 and Chris Gates, 23, decided to ditch their classes at Oregon State and drive down to San Francisco with hopes of scoring some seats.
"We didn't have a plan," Cohen said. "We just came down without tickets."
When they arrived at the ballpark, they discovered the knothole area.
"Standing room only tickets out there (in the outfield concourse) are three or four hundred dollars," Cohen said. "We're three or four feet from the warning track. This is better."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.