May 12, 2021
Oracle Park is a baseball park located in the South Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, California. Since 2000, it has served as the home of the San Francisco Giants, the city's Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise. Originally named Pacific Bell Park, then SBC Park, then AT&T Park, the stadium's current name was adopted from the Oracle Corporation in 2019. The park stands along the San Francisco Bay, a segment of which is named McCovey Cove in honor of former Giants player Willie McCovey.
Oracle Park has also played host to both professional and collegiate American football games. The stadium was the home of the annual college postseason bowl game now known as the Redbox Bowl from its inaugural playing in 2002 until 2013, and also served as the temporary home for the University of California's football team in 2011. Professionally, it was the home of the San Francisco Demons of the XFL and the California Redwoods of the United Football League.
Public transit access to the stadium is provided within San Francisco by Muni Metro or Muni Bus, from the Peninsula and Santa Clara Valley via Caltrain, and from parts of the Bay Area across the water via various ferries of San Francisco Bay. The Muni 2nd and King Station is directly outside the ballpark, the 4th & King Caltrain station is 1.5 blocks from the stadium, and the Oracle Park Ferry Terminal is outside the east edge of the ballpark beyond the center field bleachers.
Design and construction
Originally designed to be a 42,000-seat stadium, there were slight modifications before the final design was complete. When the ballpark was brought to the ballot box in the fall of 1996 for voter approval, the stadium was 15° clockwise from its current position. Also the center-field scoreboard was atop the right-field wall and the Giants Pavilion Building were two separate buildings. Groundbreaking on the ballpark began on December 11, 1997, in the industrial waterfront area of San Francisco known as China Basin in the up-and-coming neighborhoods of South Beach and Mission Bay. The stadium cost $357 million to build and supplanted the Giants' former home, Candlestick Park, a multi-use stadium in southeastern San Francisco that was also home to the NFL's San Francisco 49ers until 2014, when they relocated to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. A team of engineers from UC Davis was consulted in the design process of the park, resulting in wind levels that are approximately half those at Candlestick. Fans had shivered through 40 seasons at "The 'Stick" and looked forward to warmer temperatures at the new ballpark. But because Oracle Park, like its predecessor, is built right on San Francisco Bay, cold summer fog and winter jackets in July are still not unusual at Giants games, despite the higher average temperature.
When it opened on March 31, 2000, the ballpark was the first MLB ballpark built without public funds since the completion of Dodger Stadium in 1962. However, the Giants did receive a $10 million tax abatement from the city and $80 million for upgrades to the local infrastructure (including a connection to the Muni Metro). The Giants have a 66-year lease on the 12.5-acre ballpark site, paying $1.2 million in rent annually to the San Francisco Port Commission. The park opened with a seating capacity of 40,800, but this has increased over time as seats have been added. In April 2010, the stadium became the first MLB ballpark to receive LEED Silver Certification for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance.
Following the 2019 season, the organization began the process of relocating the bullpens from the first- and third base foul lines to behind the outfield walls in center and right-centerfield. The motivation was two-fold: to address player safety issues that had arisen over the years by having the bullpen mounds in the field of play, and to slightly alter the dimensions of the park to perhaps increase, if ever-so-slightly, the potential for home runs in certain areas of the outfield, most notably in right-center field, affectionately known as Triples Alley (a design feature meant as an homage to the centerfield depth of the Giants former home in New York, The Polo Grounds). Prior to these modifications, multiple players both home and away had experienced various levels of injury sustained by tripping over the bullpen mounds while chasing foul balls. Most notably, former Giants outfield prospect Mac Williamson sustained a concussion during such a play that significantly altered his season.
On April 3, 1996, Pacific Bell, a telephone company serving California based in San Francisco, purchased the naming rights for the planned ballpark for $50 million for 24 years. The stadium was named Pacific Bell Park, or Pac Bell Park for short.
Just days before the sponsorship was announced, SBC Communications had announced their intention to acquire Pacific Bell's parent company, Pacific Telesis, a deal which closed in April 1997. SBC eventually stopped using the Pacific Bell name for marketing, and reached an agreement with the Giants to change the stadium's name to SBC Park on January 1, 2004.
On January 9, 2019, it was reported that AT&T had given the Giants the option of ending the naming deal a year early, if the team could quickly find a new partner. The Giants and Oracle Corporation came to a rapid agreement, with the old AT&T Park signs being replaced with temporary Oracle Park banners on January 10.
Some fans still refer to the stadium as Pac Bell Park, as it was the first name given to the stadium. Others have nicknamed the stadium "The Phone Booth" or "Telephone Park", in response to its multiple name changes, while some referred to the stadium as "Some Big Corporation Park" during the SBC years. Others yet refer to it as "Mays Field" in honor of Giants great Willie Mays or simply "The Bell". Many also refer to the stadium as "China Basin" or "McCovey Cove" after its location, which would be immune to changes in sponsorship naming.
In December 2019, the San Francisco Giants revealed that they would be renovating the center field section of Oracle Park. The renovation took place from December 2019 to June 2020. The bullpens were moved from foul territory into center field. The Giants decided to make their garden smaller to fit the bullpens behind the center-field wall. With this renovation, the dimensions of the park have slightly shrunk. Left-center was trimmed down from 404 feet to 399 feet, right-center (known as Triples Alley) was trimmed down from 421 feet to 415 feet (to represent the San Francisco area code), and dead-center was trimmed down the 399 feet to 391 feet, making it the second shortest dead-center field distance in MLB, behind only Fenway Park in Boston. With this renovation, approximately 650 bleacher seats had to be removed to create more fan engagement. Now, there are patios for fans to watch the relief pitchers warm-up from up close.
The stadium contains 68 luxury suites, 5,200 club seats on the club level, and an additional 1,500 club seats at the field level behind home plate.
On the facing of the upper deck along the left-field line are the retired numbers of Bill Terry, Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell, Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, Jackie Robinson, Willie McCovey, and Gaylord Perry, as well as the retired uniforms, denoted "NY", of Christy Mathewson and John McGraw who played or managed in the pre-number era. These two pre-number–era retired uniforms are among only six such retired uniforms in all of the Major Leagues.
Oracle Park has a reputation of being a pitcher's park and the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the National League, because the depth of the outfield limits home runs, according to ESPN. ESPN's MLB Park Factors lists Oracle Park as having the fewest home runs per game 6 out of the past 7 years, the one exception coming in 2013, when it was the 3rd lowest.
Right field and McCovey Cove
The most prominent feature of the ballpark is the right-field wall, which is 24 feet high in honor of former Giants Willie Mays, who wore number 24. Because of the proximity to the San Francisco Bay, the right-field foul pole is only 309 feet from home plate, the shortest in the NL [only Fenway Park's shorter, at 302 feet. The wall is made of brick, with fenced-off archways opening to the Cove beyond, above which are several rows of arcade seating. The fence angles quickly away from home plate; right-center field extended out to 421 feet from home plate (changed with the 2020 renovations to 415 feet). Atop the fence are four pillars with fountains atop. Jets of water burst from the four pillars at the end of the National Anthem and also when the Giants hit a home run or win a game.
The 50 "Splash Hit" counter
In the past, rubber chickens put up by fans whenever a Giants player (especially Barry Bonds) was intentionally walked, would line the foul portion of the wall. The fans would do this to show that the opposing team is "chicken" for not pitching right to the Giants players. In recent seasons, as the team's strength has shifted from hitting to pitching, fans will line up "K" signs with each strikeout by a Giants pitcher. The right field area was designed to resemble the Polo Grounds. This deep corner of the ballpark has been dubbed "Death Valley" and "Triples Alley." Like its Polo Grounds counterpart, it is very difficult to hit a home run to this area, and a batted ball that finds its way into this corner often results in a triple. It is 415 feet. Triples Alley is also infamous for bad bounces, most notably when Ichiro Suzuki hit the first-ever inside-the-park home run in an All-Star Game by lining the ball off one of the archways and sideways past the outfielders. Nate Schierholtz performed the same feat in the 2009 season as a pinch hitter. Aubrey Huff did it again in the 2010 season, as did Conor Gillaspie in 2011. Ángel Pagán ended a game in May 2013 with a two-run walk-off (extra-inning, come-from-behind) inside-the-park home run, the first of its kind at the then-named AT&T Park.
Beyond right field is China Basin, a section of San Francisco Bay, which is dubbed McCovey Cove after famed Giants first baseman and left-handed slugger Willie McCovey, and into which a number of home runs have been hit on the fly. As of April 27, 2021, 85 "splash hits" (all by a lefty batter) have been knocked into the Cove by Giants players since the park opened; 35 of those were by Barry Bonds, and the most recent being Brandon Crawford hitting one off Daniel Bard of the Colorado Rockies on April 27, 2021. These hits are tallied on an electronic counter on the right field wall. Opponents have hit the water on the fly 48 times; Todd Hundley of the Los Angeles Dodgers was the first visitor to do so on June 30, 2000. Curtis Granderson of the New York Mets, Luis Gonzalez of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cliff Floyd of the Chicago Cubs are the only visiting players to do so twice, while Carlos Delgado of the New York Mets has performed the feat thrice. Adam LaRoche has also hit three splash hits, twice with the Arizona Diamondbacks and once with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jake Cronenworth of the San Diego Padres most recently hit one into the water as a visiting player on May 9, 2021. On June 27, 2010, David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox became the first American League player to hit a splash hit. The only other AL players who have done it are Mitch Moreland of the Texas Rangers on June 9, 2012, Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox on August 13, 2014, Rougned Odor of the Texas Rangers on August 24, 2018, and Shin-Soo Choo of the Texas Rangers on August 2, 2020. Barry Bonds is the Giant who has hit the most home runs into "The Cove" as Giants fans call it and is the only one to have had hit 2 splash hits in one game (a feat he accomplished twice).
Behind the scoreboard in center field there is a pier where ferries can tie up and let off fans right at the park. On game days, fans take to the water of McCovey Cove in boats and even in kayaks, often with fishing nets in the hope of collecting a home run ball. (This echoes what used to happen at Candlestick Park during McCovey's playing days. Before Candlestick's upper deck was extended, the area behind right field was occupied by three small bleacher sections and a lot of open space. Kids in those bleachers would gather behind the right field fence when "Stretch" came to the plate.) Just beyond the wall behind the King Street ballpark is a public waterfront promenade. Across the cove from the ballpark is McCovey Point and China Basin Park, featuring monuments to past Giants legends.
Rusty, the Coke bottle, and the glove
When the park opened in 2000, taking residence on the right field wall was Rusty, the Mechanical Man based on a theme of Old Navy since the wall was sponsored by the company. Rusty was a two-dimensional robotic ballplayer that stood 14 feet tall and weighed 5½ tons. The Santa Clarita-based firm, Technifex, engineered, fabricated and programmed Rusty to appear after major plays, during games, as a fully animated giant 1920s-era tin "toy". After technical problems arose with Rusty, it was removed from the Old Navy Splash Landing, though the enclosure that housed him remained for years. In 2006 the Old Navy sponsorship of the wall was terminated and renamed "Levi's Landing". In 2008, the enclosure was removed as that area near the right field foul pole was renovated for a new luxury party suite called the "McCovey Cove Loft".
The Coca-Cola bottle and old-fashioned glove
Behind the left field bleachers is "The Coca-Cola Fan Lot". The ballpark features an 80-foot long Coca-Cola bottle with playground slides that lights up with every Giants home run, and a miniature version of the stadium. "The Coca-Cola Superslide" is popular with children as is with adults, and the terraced levels of the slides are a fun way to catch the game. Bubbles originally accompanied the bottle, but never worked as intended and were removed. If one were viewing the outfield promenade from home plate, directly to the bottle's right is another oversized representation of a ballpark stalwart, the "Giant 1927 Old-Time Four-Fingered Baseball Glove" — this particular one is made of steel and fiberglass, which is behind the 501 ft sign. Behind and farther to the left is "The Little Giants Park" – a miniature baseball diamond — sort of a minor league tryout for Pee-Wee Ball.
To the right of the glove sculpture is the elevator and large plaza area for functions and parties to be held during games. It's also the site of "Orlando's", the concessions stand of Giants great Orlando Cepeda. The signature fare at the stand is the "Caribbean Cha Cha Bowl". Right-center field features a real San Francisco cable car numbered 44 (retired cable car #4, formerly #504) in honor of Giants great Willie McCovey. Originally, the cable car had a label that stated "No Dodgers Fans Allowed", as well as one end of the car numbered 24 in honor of Willie Mays and the other end numbered 44 in honor of Willie McCovey. The foghorn — a feature introduced at Candlestick Park by the current Giants ownership group – was transferred to Oracle and hung underneath the scoreboard. It blows when a Giants player hits a home run or at the conclusion of a Giants win. Continuing right takes one to the promenade above the Cove, so that one can make a completely uninterrupted circuit of the park at that concourse level. Both levels of the concourse, inside the stadium, feature not only concession stands of all sorts, but other attractions as well.
Located behind the centerfield bleachers, the ballpark features the @Café, a social media café, which opened in the 2013 season. The cafe serves Peet's Coffee and features large screens that show off fans' social media posts from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which are curated by the Giants organization.
In addition to the automated scoreboards, which now include a new HD videoboard by Mitsubishi, the park has enormous manually-operated boards on the right field wall, which display the scores of Major League games being played elsewhere. The manual scoreboards are operated by three employees, whose work on game days starts at least two hours before the first pitch. A members-only bar, Gotham Club, is located behind the manual scoreboard, complete with a bowling alley and pool tables. Former players and VIPs are the only patrons of this exclusive area. Four other ballparks also use hand-operated out-of-town scoreboards: Fenway Park, Minute Maid Park, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum & Wrigley Field.
Left field Chevron banner and ground rules issues
A feature of the ballpark is the long-running Chevron advertisement, located in left field, featuring an outline of the company's claymation Chevron Cars, though the top 'roofs' of the cars (along with a dog and a surfboard hanging out a car window) are extended out (though with traditional structure and cushioning behind it), rendering it several inches higher than the wall base, and creating a ground rules issue. Several instances where potential over-the-wall catches to take away home runs were thwarted have occurred because of the advertisement's top dimensions: for example, during Game 3 of the 2016 NLDS against the Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant hit a ball well into left field. Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco attempted a catch, but the ball landed on the roof of one of the cars, past the wall and out of his reach, rendering it a home run and tying the game in the top of the ninth inning (though the Giants would win the game in extra innings for their only win in the series). There are also apocryphal stories of Giant players jokingly saying they would saw the tops of the Chevron cars off if they resulted in opposing home runs being unable to be caught.
The opening series took place April 11–13, 2000 against the Los Angeles Dodgers (the team the Giants faced in their final series at Candlestick Park), and the Giants were swept in three games. In the first game of that series, the Giants lost 6–5, highlighted by three home runs from the Dodgers' Kevin Elster. On May 1, 2000, Barry Bonds became the first player to hit a "splash hit" home run into McCovey Cove.
In just its first few years of existence, the ballpark saw its share of historic events primarily due to veteran Giants outfielder Barry Bonds. On April 17, 2001, Bonds hit his 500th career home run at then-Pacific Bell Park. Later that year, he set the single season home run record when he hit home runs number 71, 72, and 73 over the weekend of October 5 to close the season. On August 9, 2002, Bonds hit his 600th career home run at the park. On April 12, 2004, Bonds hit career home run 660 at SBC Park to tie Willie Mays for third on the all-time list and on the next night, he hit number 661 to move into sole possession of third place. On September 17, 2004, Bonds hit his 700th career home run at the park to become just the third member of baseball's 700 club. On May 28, 2006, Bonds hit his 715th home run at the park to pass Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time list. On August 7, 2007, Bonds hit his 756th home run, breaking Hank Aaron's record.
The park hosted games three through five of the 2002 World Series against the Anaheim Angels, which the Giants lost four games to three. It also hosted the 2007 MLB All-Star Game, which the American League won 5–4 over the National League.
On July 10, 2009, the Giants' Jonathan Sánchez pitched the first no-hitter at Oracle Park.
On October 27 & 28, 2010, the Giants hosted the first two games of the World Series, beating the Texas Rangers in both games. They ultimately went on to win the series four games to one, their first championship since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958, though the clinching game was played at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington rather than at Oracle Park.
Oracle Park hosted Games 1 and 2 of the 2012 World Series on October 24 and 25. The Giants beat the Detroit Tigers twice, 8–3 and 2–0 respectively. The Giants would go on to win the 2012 World Series in a four-game sweep at Comerica Park.
The stadium hosted of the semifinal and final rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic on March 17–19.
On July 23, 2013, due to a previous rain-out in Cincinnati, Oracle Park served as the "home" venue of the Cincinnati Reds for the second game of a doubleheader against the Giants. Giants manager Bruce Bochy won his 1,500th career game.
Oracle Park hosted Games 3, 4, and 5 of the 2014 World Series on October 24, 25 and 26. The Giants beat the Kansas City Royals 2 out of the 3 games played at Oracle Park, losing Game 3, 3–2, before winning Games 4 and 5, 11–4 and 5–0 respectively. They ultimately went on to win the series in seven games, with the clinching game played at Kauffman Stadium rather than at Oracle Park. As of 2019, the Giants have not hosted a World Series clincher at Oracle Park, but they did host two at Candlestick Park: the first being in 1962, which was won by the New York Yankees, and the second in 1989, which the Oakland Athletics won in a four-game sweep.
On June 15, 2015, the Giants set a record for most consecutive home losses at Oracle Park at nine straight games with a 5–1 loss to the Seattle Mariners. This losing streak was the Giants' longest since an 11-game home loss streak at the Polo Grounds in New York in 1940.
From October 1, 2010 to July 18, 2017, Oracle Park recorded 530 consecutive sellouts, the second longest in Major League history behind Fenway Park's 794 consecutive sellouts from 2003 to 2013.