The column | Tradition! My favorite date on the Jewish calendar is the night at the ballpark

Between Shavuot and Rosh Hashanah comes my favorite unofficial holiday: Jewish Heritage Night at AT&T Park. I never miss my annual farbringen with the Giants.

In addition to carbo-loading on garlic fries, I get to pad my collection of Giants-brand tchotchkes, which includes a Giants menorah and a Giants scarf that could double as a tallis. To my sorrow, I lost my 2007 “Rally Rabbi” bobblehead, but the orange-and-black Kiddush cup giveaway at the July 27 game against the Milwaukee Brewers might make up for it.

No it won’t. Who am I kidding?

Jewish Heritage Night is the one time each year I go to the ballpark. That doesn’t mean I don’t love baseball. I do, passionately, but I prefer watching it on TV with a beer and an injudicious bag of Doritos by my side.

One of the best things about living here is getting every Giants game on TV.  I adore Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, the duo that calls Giants games. Their expertise, humor and playful affection for “gamer babes” make watching the Giants the best fan experience I’ve ever had.

That’s saying a lot for a kid who grew up in Los Angeles with the voice of Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully buzzing like a summer cicada from every transistor radio in town.

My earliest baseball memory is witnessing Sandy Koufax hurl a first-pitch strike at Dodger Stadium. When I was 9, my parents signed me up for Little League. I smacked a triple in my first

at-bat that shining season and never made contact again. Ever.

I couldn’t hit. Playing defense terrified me. Fly balls hit my way might as well have been nuclear warheads. My motto was “Keep me out, coach.”

Living in L.A. during the Dodgers’ golden age offered compensations. The Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey infield of the 1970s enthralled me, as did the 1988 World Series, which featured Kirk Gibson’s impossible pinch-hit walk-off homerun.

I came to love baseball’s strangeness. Unlike soccer and other games of perpetual motion, most of the time baseball players stand around. But when something happens, things explode.

It’s the game’s micro-precision that most amazes me.

Is there anything more graceful than a 6-4-3 double play? Or consider Hunter Pence’s recent sliding catch in foul territory, then springing up to throw a bullet to catcher Andrew Susac for the swipe tag, nailing the Mets’ runner at the plate. Human beings should not be able to do that. NASA robots, maybe, but not human beings.

My favorite baseball memories happened far from the ballpark. They took place in the street, where I played catch with my boy.

There’s a reason why father-son catch is iconic: It’s desperately gratifying. The cadence of the toss, and the simple conversations that spring from it, mean everything. If I could go back in time, a la “Our Town,” I would return to a lazy Sunday playing catch with Aaron.

There is no going back. So I settle for Kruk and Kuip and the Doritos. I settle for Jewish Heritage Night and my Brandon Crawford man-crush.

When I moved north in 2002, I experienced intense homesickness. My body may have been here but my heart was in the Southland.

Then I got into the Giants —blasphemy for a Dodgers fan, I know.

On Jewish Heritage Night in 2007, I saw Barry Bonds blast his 757th career home run, two beyond Hank Aaron’s old record. Then in 2010, the dynasty began. I fell for guys named Timmy, Panda, Ross and Huff (he of the skimpy red underwear known as the “rally thong”).

After the team won the Series that year, I donned my orange Jewish Heritage Night T-shirt with the words “Go Giants!” transliterated into Hebrew, and cheered the passing parade. I did it again in 2012 and once more last October.

I credit the Giants for turning me into a NorCal guy. They settled me down and settled me in. Now I bleed orange and black every bit as much as I once bled Dodger blue.

How much? Well, let’s revisit a moment from the 2010 World Series: Tim Lincecum, pitching out of a tense late-inning jam, finally gets the third out, with the Rangers stranding a few men on base. As Timmy marches to the dugout, I see him, eyes ablaze, mouth these words to the hapless runner at third: “Stay there!”

I almost cried.

Dan Pine can be reached at [email protected]

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.