Bay Area's Pollak relishes return to AT&T Park
Giddy about Series, actor/comedian met Bonds, toured stadium before 2000 opening
SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're familiar with Kevin Pollak's work, you may assume his greatest life moments revolve around his successful career as both a comedian and an actor.
After all, we're talking about someone who had a very fruitful stand-up career for a couple of decades before he made an equally impressive foray into the Hollywood scene. When you've earned critical acclaim for your roles in "A Few Good Men" and "The Usual Suspects," dipping too far into the memory bank to come up with more notable life accomplishments is unnecessary, right?
Wrong. Pollak, born in the Bay Area, forever loyal to his birthplace of San Francisco and a dyed-in-the-wool Giants fan, had an experience at San Francisco's home ballpark years ago that brought more satisfaction in a few fleeting minutes than any Oscar-nominated role could provide.
The episode occurred in 2000, before the Giants had even played their first game in their new ballpark. What is now called AT&T Park was freshly built, and Pollak just happened to be related to the foreman of the company that won the bid to put in all of the flooring at the new facility.
Craig Pollak, Kevin's brother, spent most of the offseason working at the site of the new ballpark, and obviously, had an all-access pass, within reason. He called his brother a week before the stadium was to open to the public and offered to give him a private tour.
As it turned out, the Giants had just returned from Spring Training and were at the ballpark at the same time, checking out the new digs. As the giddy Pollak brothers stood on the edge of the field, Barry Bonds emerged from the dugout, recognized Kevin right away, insisted "A Few Good Men" was one of his favorite movies (although Pollak suspects Bonds was just being polite), and insisted the three pose for a picture.
No wonder Kevin Pollak has such a special feeling for this place. He may have grown up watching the Giants play in a different setting, but the connection to AT&T Park is understandably strong.
Pollak was at the ballpark on Wednesday a couple of hours before Game 1 of the World Series, to watch his Giants take on the Tigers and continue his ongoing relationship as a celebrity voice of MLB.com. Pollak is blogging this week as he roots on his hometown team, and he's also using this opportunity to pay back his brother for the unprecedented access he was afforded more than a decade ago.
"He picked me up from the airport and drove me in, and we've been cackling like school girls," Pollak said while observing batting practice with his brother. "It's just ridiculous."
A master impressionist, Pollak is well-known for his impersonations of Christopher Walken, Peter Falk, William Shatner and Jack Nicholson, among others. He's more closely associated with Hollywood than San Francisco, mainly because actors and comedians go where the work is, and the work is in Los Angeles. Pollak has been a resident of L.A. for 30 years, but has never taken to the sports scene there, mainly because when you're from San Francisco, cheering against L.A. teams is a skill that is learned early in life, somewhere in between walking and eating solid foods.
As much of a baseball fan as he is, Pollak can't bring himself to go to Dodger Stadium, and he estimated in three decades, he's probably attended four games at Chavez Ravine, and only when his Giants were in town.
This week, there was no need to arrange to see his team on enemy territory. The Giants have home-field advantage thanks to the National League's All-Star Game win, and among the hundreds who were on the field before the game was one very happy celebrity fan, humbled by his surroundings while feeling pretty good about his team's chances to win the whole thing.
Getting Pollak to reveal his predictions took a little prodding, however.
"I think it's not important to think in terms of results, but rather, the journey," he hedged. "I don't mean to get all zen yoda on you, but today's an incredibly magical day, to be at Game 1 of the World Series. The fact that we're here could only be slightly undermined by worrying about the results. I insist we live in the moment.
"But if you're going to put me there, I'm going to say Giants in six."