¡Fanáticos! The Bat Boy Who Never Stopped Loving the Giants

I will try to describe my dad, Henry Pacheco, in two words: Dodgers hater!

The reason, you guessed it, is because he’s a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan, a love that started young, when he was 12, to be exact, shortly after he saw a sign at a local pizza parlor and won a contest to become a bat boy for the team in 1972.

My dad still talks about his experience of being a bat boy like it was yesterday. Arriving at Candlestick Park, taking a long time in the locker room to put on his uniform because he was starstruck, and being asked to become the traveling bat boy after just one game. Because he was only 12, he passed on the opportunity, but never stopped loving the Giants.

For as far back as I can remember, my family and I have only rooted for Northern California sports teams — the Giants, 49ers, Warriors and Sharks. Growing up in the Bay area, I always thought that it was OK to also root for the Oakland Raiders or Oakland A’s if they got to the postseason, but according to my dad, it’s not OK. Giants, 49ers, Warriors, Sharks or NO ONE. And don’t even mention the Dodgers around my Dad. When it comes to sports, his joy in life is to watch the Dodgers lose, especially to the Giants and when they collapse during the postseason.

We have a big family, with lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. And a lot of them live in Los Angeles and — you guessed it — are die-hard Dodgers fans. The family rivalry between the North and the South is stronger than ever. The back-and-forth phone calls, text messages and Facebook tags between my Dad and his cousins dissing each other’s teams is always vigorous and never-ending.

Every year at family reunions, the North and the South compete to see who wears the most team apparel. I’ll never forget vacations in Los Angeles at Disneyland, Universal Studios, visiting family at their house and my dad always, still to this day, wearing his Giants shirts and jackets. The side-eye and evil looks only encourage his dislike for the Dodgers and his love for the Giants.

Growing up, anytime I asked my dad for anything Giants, he would buy it for me. My wardrobe was never low on sports merchandise. I’m a grown-up son now, and my dad still buys me anything related to the Giants and 49ers.

His house is his Giants kingdom. He’s turned one of the spare rooms into a Giants cave with paintings on the wall of the Golden Gate Bridge and Candlestick Park, where the Giants played until 1999. The room is filled with Giants memorabilia, pictures of his bat boy days, bobbleheads of past and present Giants, newspaper clippings from the World Series wins in 2010, 2012 and 2014, autographed baseballs, jerseys and pennants. It was in this very room that he watched the Giants lose the World Series in 2002 to the Anaheim Angels and then watched them win three times in five seasons — three of the best years of gloating in his life.

Fast forward to today. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be telling the story of how a Mexican-American from Milpitas, California — who just happens to be my father — became one of the San Francisco Giants’ biggest fans. When La Vida Baseball began planning the ¡Fanáticos! series with LasMayores.com, I thought to myself, my dad needs to be included.

As we were producing the story, we thought how awesome it would be to have a Giants player meet-and-greet my dad when we take him to AT&T Park. My boss, Editor-in-Chief Adrian Burgos, Jr., is a friend of former Giant and Hall of Famer, Orlando “Cha Cha” Cepeda, so we gave him a call and he agreed to meet my dad before the start of a Giants-Rockies game in September.

After weeks of planning, the stage was set. My dad had no idea he would be allowed on the field during batting practice or that he would meet Cepeda. When we stepped on the field, I remember him saying, “I want to make a snow angel in the dirt.”

When Orlando pulled up in a golf cart, my dad couldn’t believe it. My dad knew that Orlando always went to the games and was a frequent visitor to AT&T Park, but he was overwhelmed when Orlando called his name and presented him with a jersey that read “BAT BOY” with the year ’72 on it, the same season that he served as a bat boy. I’m sure that I heard my dad say, “I want to cry,” or something like that.

I’ve heard the expression many times, “The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” and I can honestly say this is so true. Because of my dad, I, too, am a die-hard Giants fan, as are my stepmom, sisters, nephews, and nieces, all because of one person — Henry the Giant.

Featured Image: Mark Phillips / La Vida Baseball

Inset Images: Jaycee Cervántez