Encouraged heartily by my wife ("Go; you may never get the chance again; you've got to go out there"), I grabbed a cheap flight ($388) to San Francisco, from Priceline, from Rochester, staying in Henrietta, NY, the night before the early Tuesday morning flight. This flight was 56 years in the planning.
Game 1 of the 2010 World Series, the Fall Classic, was on Wednesday, October 27. I slept until 9 or so at the Heritage Marina Hotel on Van Ness ($69 a night) and strolled out to a crisp and bright day, turned right onto Filbert Street and started walking up the steep hill. I paused and looked left, looking downhill and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning sun. As I climbed, crossing Polk, Larkin, and Hyde in succession, I took photos and called friends back East. My voice was breathy from walking and sheer excitement, pun intended. At one of the crests (you think you’re at The Crest, and you go higher!), I was able to look in one direction and see the Golden Gate area and in the opposite direction see Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill. Having walked Filbert down to North Beach on the night before, I crossed to the left side of the street. Why? I recalled walking in a Japanese tea garden this past summer, back in the Syracuse area. The woman who owned the garden and the tea house admonished the visitors: “You cannot take the same path out once you’ve been in the tea house. You’ve already been that way. You must take a different way. You cannot go back.” A good lesson on this day, a good omen. So I walked down the sharp hill, on the left for most of the way, as opposed to walking downhill on the right side of the street the night before, seeing a co-op laundry and many Chinese people coming out of a former grammar school, now some sort of community college campus. I thought to myself, isn’t this supposed to be an Italian area? We’re not in Chinatown yet. So be it. I proceeded to Washington Square, turning right on Columbus Avenue. Piazza Pellegrini restaurant faced the park and Sts. Peter and Paul Church. I asked the fellow in a little caboose-type structure if I could have breakfast outside. Sure. I needed a newspaper. I walked in to the restaurant proper, where workers were getting ready for lunch. It was now 10:30 a.m. or so. “Do you know where I can get a newspaper?” “Yeah, there’s boxes right up the block.” “Thanks.” And I told him of my mission, why I was in San Francisco at that moment. The 2010 World Series. Without tickets, thank you. “We’re going to win,” he said. “All right!” And we talked about the Giants and the Long Wait and how we deserved it and it was our year and, yes, Tony Bennett, pictured on the wall, comes there, he’s a friend. Perfect. So I sat outside, robust coffee, croissant, and the Sporting Green. I fielded a call from my wife, trying to relate the scene before me. This delicious and anticipatory interlude, before the game, in front of Columbus Avenue, al fresco, was a highlight of my trip. Reading how Cliff Lee, the Rangers’ starting pitcher, when asked about our hitters, talked instead about our pitchers (as if the hitters did not exist!). Enjoying a late breakfast; soaking everything in. It was one of the moments in life when you know you will remember it as perfectly as it is, without idealizing or embellishing it. The Moment. I was tired from long travel and walking the day and night before, and this was a perfect haven before the gorgeous storm of emotion awaiting me at Game 1.