Fans pack McCovey Cove for Derby
Wild scene behind right-field wall at AT&T Park on Monday
SAN FRANCISCO -- The All-Star Home Run Derby is always a hot ticket, but to hear one longtime Giants fan and personal watercraft enthusiast tell it Monday, ducats for the Derby were easier to score than a spot in McCovey Cove.
When Denny Bahr, a self-described "40-year-old Bay Area half-beatnik," says he missed the boat, he's speaking literally.
Bahr, who said he floats in a kayak beyond the right-field wall at AT&T Park during "about 20 or 30" games a season, was among the Cove regulars who were unable to secure the proper registration required for entry into the "security zone" in China Basin Channel.
"I'm not mad about having to register at all; I understand the security issues and all that," Bahr said while looking down on the Cove from the right-field Arcade as Ryan Howard of the Phillies took his first-round hacks.
"I'm mad at myself. We don't need to register for regular games, but I knew we did for the All-Star stuff, and that the space was limited, and that it was free to register. I just forgot, man. And by the time I remembered, all the permits were gone.
"Gone like Bonds."
Quick note: The right-field Arcade from which Bahr was looking down -- with palpable sadness -- on the colorful armada below is inside AT&T Park.
"I'd rather be down there," he said. "I'm not alone, either. I've heard that a bunch of people who are out there a lot during the season did the same thing. Doesn't make me feel any better, though."
Nor did it make him feel any better that the bobbing flotilla -- kayaks, canoes, surfboards, boogie boards, rafts and at least one pair of giant foam waterskis -- saw but one ball drop into their aquatic playground during the entire contest.
It was a foul ball, however, so it didn't count. Brewers big man Prince Fielder's drive barely cleared the Portwalk that separates the outside wall of the ballpark and the Cove, and was pulled from the greenish murk within three seconds by a Hawaiian-shirt-wearing man who didn't hesitate to dive off his Giants-orange kayak for the coveted orb.
"Did you see that guy, Mommy?" gushed Scotty Kendrick, an 8-year-old from Boston who was clearly awed by the Hawaiian plunge. "He's gonna be really cold in a little while."
Kendrick's mother, Janis, said, "Well, it must be worth it to him. That ball might be worth a lot of money, I guess."
Actually, Bahr noted, the ball likely wouldn't fetch much.
"I'm guessing the balls for this have an All-Star logo [they do], but there's still going to be a lot of them out there on whatever market there is," he said. "And bro, I don't think people are out there on the water trying to make money. Sure, we'd all like to get a Barry Bonds homer, especially a milestone shot. I'd take that golden nugget to the bank, no doubt. But I'm out there because I love the water, I love the people, I love the scene.
"It's a scene, man. That's what it's all about."
It certainly was a scene Monday, as people occasionally bounded from craft to craft, beverage in hand. Think MTV's Spring Break spectacles at Lake Havasu, Ariz. -- only the cavorters are about 15 years older and wearing, for the most part, a lot more clothes.
Speaking of clothes, there is no dress code in the Cove. The sartorial splendor Monday evening included jerseys, swimsuits, wetsuits, fleece jackets, lifejackets, bikinis, board shorts and a couple of pirate costumes.
Not Pirates uniforms. Pirate costumes.
"No way those people are locals," sniffed Andy Cannon, an 18-year-old from San Francisco who spent the second round strolling the Portwalk, alternately rubbernecking co-eds and joining the spontaneous derisive Dodgers chants that came up from the water every 15 minutes or so. "You see those weak hats? San Fran comes stronger than that."
"But I am jealous of the pirates. I'll admit that much. They're in the Cove and I'm not."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.