The San Francisco Giants announced fresh improvements arriving at Oracle Park for the 2023 season at their annual Media Open House Thursday afternoon.
Team executives previewed special-event giveaways, new food and drink offers, marketing strategies, technological upgrades, and other notable adjustments ahead of Opening Day on March 30 – the start of the franchise’s 140th season and 65th in San Francisco.
The marketing department also officially unveiled the club’s new slogan:
“Nothing Like It.”
Honoring Franchise Icons
For the past 65 seasons, Mike Murphy could be seen pushing the laundry cart around the Giants clubhouse, accommodating lockers and wisdom for new players, and blasting Sinatra in his office during the course of a ballgame. This offseason, the legendary clubhouse manager officially called it a career, informing the Giants he would not return for the 2023 season.
On Thursday, CEO Larry Baer announced that “Murph” will receive a plaque on the Wall of Fame before an Aug. 27 matchup against the Atlanta Braves. He will be the 56th member inducted.
Murphy, 81, has been a staple with the team since they moved to San Francisco in 1958. He has been involved with every player from Willie Mays to Logan Webb. After starting as a bat boy at Seals Stadium, Murphy became the visitors clubhouse manager in 1960 and was promoted to run the home clubhouse at Candlestick Park in 1980. He semi-retired from his full-time position in 2015, but remained a familar sight around the clubhouse. Baer said:
“There was no hesitation when we began discussing how to honor one of the most beloved figures in our organization and that was to put him on our Wall of Fame, our living tribute to the generations of San Francisco Giants greats including players, owners and now Murph.”
As reported by Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic, three-time World Series champion Sergio Romo will appear one final time in a Giants uniform during the Monday evening exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics at Oracle Park. Romo, 40, signed a minor league pact with the organization March 18 as the right-hander closes out his 15-year big league career.
Romo’s 268 regular season appearances are the most for any pitcher in Oracle Park’s 23-year history.
Opening Day Ceremonies
The Giants are set to play the Kansas City Royals during their home opener at Oracle Park on April 7. While the team is traditionally confidential about their Opening Day festivities, executive vice president of business operations Mario Alioto spilled hints about their plans.
Alioto says the National Anthem will be performed by Emmy-award-winning actor and singer-songwriter Darren Criss, who starred in the hit television series “Glee” and is a die-hard Giants fan. The Best Intentions, an Oakland-based five-member performing and recording group, will follow up with a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
After passing away on Dec. 1 at 84, Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry will recieve hearty tributes throughout the afternoon. Perry’s widow, Deborah, and family will be in attendance.
Baer says the Giants have sold roughly 1.5 million tickets thus far and Opening Day is nearing a sellout. Fans are encouraged to arrive at the ballpark early with orange rally rags waiting for them, ready to be furiously waved.
On the Field
Coming off their first .500 season in franchise history, the Giants endured a rather chaotic offseason – an MVP used them for leverage before a failed physical threatened the sanity of their public relations department.
No, Aaron Judge won’t walk through the double-doors at Oracle Park on Opening Day. There will be no Carlos Correa sighting in Bay Area, either. Not one Top-15 free agent signing rolled into spring training, carrying a seemingly endless supply of unbroken-in gloves inside of a heavier-than-normal orange and black duffle bag.
The organization did, though, spent more than $200 million on free agents, as one of five big league teams to sign five or more players at $25 million or more.
The Giants expect nothing more than to be contenders, and they begin the campaign with a flurry of talent all too familar with their surroundings. Baer said:
“One of the things also that we’ve been focusing on as much as possible ––and this is not something that’s always easy to do –– is the exciting local players; players who either grew up here or have connections to the Bay Area.”
Baer noted nine possible roster hopefuls with Northern California ties: Brandon Crawford (Pleasanton), Joc Pederson (Palo Alto), Webb (Rocklin), Sam Long (Fair Oaks), Scott Alexander (Santa Rosa), J.D. Davis (Elk Grove), Mitch Haniger (San Jose), Austin Slater (Stanford) and Sean Manaea, who pitched with the A’s for six seasons.
MLB’s well-documented rule changes have been the hot topic of the spring, adding yet another element of adjustments for the front office’s business model.
The Giants, along with the rest of the league, are predicting the new pitch clock rule will speed up games by 20 to 30 minutes. Baer says the change will have a “discernible effect” on the way the team could bring fans to the ballpark:
“As a kid growing up, I used to like the longer the better. But in the reality of life, sometimes it doesn’t fit people’s schedules, especially with our regional draw with people coming from Sacramento and Monterey –– up and down Northern California. Leaving the ballpark at 9:15 p.m. versus 9:45 p.m. or 10 o’clock is a big, big difference.”
‘Nothing Like It’
There’s no question landscape of baseball consumption is rapidly shifting toward different trends that aim to bring in new fans, those often critical of the “boring nature” of America’s Pastime.
In preparation for the new season, the Giants marketing team made the rounds, interviewing employees, season ticket members, Millennials, Gen Zs, and indifferent fans. The quantitative study featured 500 individuals and resulted in more than 500 hours of research to sift through. The study revealed that 84% of serious baseball fans love the “intensity” of baseball.
Travis LoDolce, director of marketing and advertising, was one of the executives in charge of the program:
“So how do we invite new fans without alienating our current fans? We help them see differently. Serious fans know something about baseball that casual fans may not know. The more you understand the game, the better it gets. And one of our season ticket holders said the game demands nuance.”
After much discussion and diverse input, the final product was a slogan dubbed, “Nothing Like It,” which is meant to celebrate the “unique” experience of visiting Oracle Park as a fan. The Spanish transcreation is “Nadie Como Nosotros.” After debuting at Fan Fest, the slogan will be used on promos, billboards and advertising.
Longtime announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow will begin another season together in the Giants television broadcast booth. The duo is scheduled to call all 81 home games.
Aside from a few cameos last season, Kuiper, 72, hasn’t regularly traveled since before the Covid-19 pandemic and will call roughly 20-30 select road games with Krukow, 71, appearing live for those games as a color analyst from the NBC Sports Bay Area studios in San Francisco.
Hunter Pence, Shawn Estes and Javier Lopez will switch off serving as analysts for road games.
Dave Flemming and Jon Miller will return as the radio voices on KNBR. Both will mix and match on the television side for road games Kuiper isn’t present for.
Food and Drink
While classical food options at the ballpark remain hot dogs and nachos, the Giants are raising the bar –– the calorie intake, too –– with new additions. Opening Day will see the debut of crab fries, old bay-seasoned waffle fries topped with Dungeness crab, smothered in garlic lemon aioli, and sprinkled with fresh chives.
The brand-new Grilled Cheese Cart will feature a rotating menu of adventurous grilled cheese sandwiches like the Three Cheese Classic, Bacon BBQ, Italian, Truffle and Jalapeno and more. Jerk chicken and swiss cheese chimichanga topped with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, queso fresco, and a chipotle crema will also be available.
As Baer heroically announced earlier in spring training, the Giants have lowered the price of 14 oz domestic drafts to $9 at Doggie Diner locations across the ballpark. The fan reaction was positive, even joyful and the newly established affordability of beer will be joined by Espresso Martinis, Jose Cuervo Margaritas On Tap and Juneshine Hard Kombucha on the beverage menu.
- Phase 1 of the Mission Rock Neighborhood Project is scheduled to wrap up in early 2024, with four finished buildings –– two residential and two commercial, including Visa’s new global headquarters.
- A new upgrade will make Oracle Park the first outdoor professional sports venue to be completely powered by a WiFi 6E network and services, according to Bill Schlough, the club’s senior vice president and chief information officer.
- Backpacks will no longer be allowed inside Oracle Park:
Steven Rissotto has covered the San Francisco Giants for SFBay since 2021. He is the host of RizzoCast, a baseball interview show featuring players, coaches, media and fans. He attends San Francisco State University and will major in Journalism and minor in education.