Noe Valley Voice December-January 2010

World Series Victory Comes to 24th Street

By Jeff Kaliss

We Are the Champs! Public houses such as Noe Valley’s own Noe’s Bar turned into havens of heaven for local baseball fans (and a great many were born recently) this October, as the Major League’s San Francisco Giants captured the ultimate prize.       Photo by Sally Smith

For San Francisco Giants fans, Game 5 of the 2010 World Series, pitting our hometown heroes against the Texas Rangers in a ballpark half a continent away, arrived about dinnertime on the fateful night of Nov. 1.

“We were watching every single strike on TV, and I was trying to cook in between,” reported Upper Noe Valley resident Kevin White.

With San Francisco leading three games to one in the best-of-seven Series, this was a match that seemed to burn at a faster-than-usual rate. White, his wife, and kids were finishing their meal when Giants outfielder Edgar Renteria smashed a three-run homer in the seventh inning.

“And when [Giants pitcher Tim] Lincecum struck out the guys in the eighth, everybody went outside and started screaming—you could hear it up and down the neighborhood,” said White, who lives on Laidley Street.

He and the gang then hopped in the car and headed up Church Street. “We knew it was gonna be crazy, and you can’t stay home when your team is winning the World Series,” said White.

The family drove past Noe’s Bar, where hundreds of fans stood riveted to the nine TV screens inside the establishment. The crowd roared as Giants pitcher Brian “The Beard” Wilson brought down the first two Rangers batters in the bottom of the ninth. When Wilson threw the final strike to the only scoring Texan, Nelson Cruz, the rivets broke loose, and Noe’s, like much of the city around it, went wild.

People group-hugged, high-fived, and bounced like pogo sticks, prompting 11-year-old Nick Kaliss to observe, “They have a kid in them, you can tell, with all that jumping up and down and celebrating. And it’s like a community, everyone in some way knows each other.”

Even Carl Norberg, an immigrant from Southern California, admitted it was impossible “to not cheer for the Giants. It’s a win against Texas by everything Texas hates—the liberal attitude, the gays—so for George Bush to sit there and watch their Texas team get killed by a team from San Francisco makes it a beautiful, beautiful thing.”

Tommy Basso, the late sports-loving bartender and co-owner of Noe’s, seemed to be smiling down from his photographic effigy above the bar, as enchanted patrons sang along with Tony Bennett’s jukebox ballad about losing his heart here.

Outside the bar, the corner of Church and 24th streets had become an axis of ecstasy, where throngs gathered to chant “Let’s go Giants!” On the other side of 24th, kids in taekwondo gear and their parents, emerging from Navarette’s Black Belt Academy, stopped to witness the flow of J-cars and SUVs, waving banners and honking horns. The flow came to a temporary awed halt as a vintage T-Bird stopped cold in the middle of the intersection, allowing its driver to ignite a fireworks fountain on the trolley tracks.

Down the street at the Dubliner pub, real-life Dubliner Mike Murphy said he’d been a Giants fan since the second day he relocated here from Eire, 25 years ago. “And I was at the Series in ’89 and 2002, but this one is different,” insisted Murphy, who now lives a couple of blocks from the bar. “I was here for the Niners’ Super Bowl wins, but this was brilliant tonight. It’s bigger than winning the World Cup!”

The Whites contingent, including several 10- and 11-year-old members of Kevin White’s SF United youth soccer team, had taken a position in close but safe proximity to the Valley Tavern, on 24th near Castro.

“I was born in 1956, and the Giants came to San Francisco in 1958, so I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said White. He noted that his now 16-year-old son Julian had “cried his eyes out” after the Series loss to the Angels in 2002. “But what I love about the 2010 club,” the elder White continued, “they were considered misfits and outcasts, and they played as a team. They beat teams which on paper could have kicked their ass.”

Angela Daly, whose grandfather had owned the erstwhile Cork ’n’ Bottle across the street, told Julian White that when she’d been his age, she’d played hooky from high school to buy a five-dollar bleacher seat and watch the Giants at Candlestick Park. After this night’s Giants victory, she’d phoned her mother with thanks, “for not getting mad about all those times the vice principal would call and say, ‘Your daughter cut class again today.’”

Julian, still banging out a rhythm on a pot nearby to accompany the ongoing chanting and honking along 24th Street, pondered the tests he’d face the next day at school in chemistry, biology, and evolution. “You know what, Julian,” his dad asked rhetorically. “The first answer in evolution tomorrow is: we got to where we are by evolving to the Giants winning the Series!”

“And,” Julian added, “the team had chemistry!”

Noe’s Bar erupts in pandemonium when Brian Wilson gets the final out.       Photo by Sally Smith

Fans at the Dubliner stand in awe as Major League Baseball awards the Giants their trophy.        Photo by Sally Smith

The exuberant owner of a white T-Bird celebrates with fireworks at 24th and Church streets.         Photo by Sally Smith