July 20, 2024
Crawford received multiple standing ovations and afterward said it was 'a little overwhelming.' He has not made a decision about his future.

SAN FRANCISCO — Officially, it was Fan Appreciation Day.

But for the 38,359 who gathered under blue skies at the Giants’ waterfront ballpark one last time this season, it was Brandon Crawford appreciation day.

Before his name was announced, the crowd rose to their feet in anticipation. Crawford, batting leadoff for only the second time in 1,655 career games, stepped into the on-deck circle as Dodgers starter Bobby Miller threw his warm-up pitches. When public address announcer Renel Brooks-Moon finally boomed his name for the umpteenth and possibly one of the final times, the fans roared.

Crawford stepped out, and home plate umpire Lance Barrett granted him enough time to tip his helmet, acknowledging fans in every corner of the park. In both dugouts, players lined the railing and joined in the applause. Four pitches later, the Dodgers’ up-and-coming ace snuck a slider past him and sent him down swinging.

Age, after all, is undefeated.

Sentimentality is left at the dugout steps.

Crawford went hitless in four at-bats, and had only two balls hit his way at shortstop.

But each time he retreated to the Giants’ dugout, he was serenaded by another ovation.

Even the ever-steady shortstop said afterward that it was “a little overwhelming.”

The loudest and longest was saved for the final time, when he was removed from the game before the top of the ninth inning. Crawford hugged interim manager Kai Correa and each of his fellow infielders, tipped his cap to the fans and was greeted by a procession of hugs upon entering the dugout.

“That was the time where I almost got a little emotional,” Crawford said. “I held it back. I was just trying to take it in and appreciate all the fans and cheers and all that.”

Marco Luciano, long heralded as the Giants’ shortstop of the future, took his place, as if to signal a changing of the guard.

“It’s exactly what we hoped for. We wanted him to get his flowers,” Correa said. “The biggest thing is that those roars, the crowd’s reaction, the opposing dugout’s reaction, our dugout’s reaction, people getting emotional, that’s the loudest noise. That overwhelms a single swing or a single moment in today’s game. That was our hope.”

These fans weren’t here because of the implications of Game 162 — there were none, the Giants eliminated and their opponents merely preparing for another playoff run — nor were they here with the expectations of seeing another dazzling display of defense, or even a base hit.

Looking toward an uncertain future, this was a day to celebrate the past.

They were here to remember the way Crawford introduced himself to the big leagues, one of two Giants to record his first hit in his first game with a grand slam, 4,510 days ago. His diving flip to Joe Panik to start the franchise’s most iconic double play, 3,259 days ago. His seven-hit game, 2,610 days ago, and his eight-RBI one, 1,539 days ago, both San Francisco-era team records. That second parade down Market Street, 3,987 days ago, and a third, two years later.

All this for a 5-year-old kid who was once photographed at Candlestick Park pleading for the team to stay in San Francisco.

“A dream come true doesn’t quite cover it,” Crawford said. “Pretending to be Giants players in the backyard, growing up coming to games, the dream was always to play for the Giants, not necessarily to win a couple of World Series and be here for 13 years.”

In the clubhouse before the game, the footage of that day’s starting pitcher was replaced on the televisions by a playlist of highlights from Crawford’s career.

On the field, his peers paid their respects. Freddie Freeman gave him a hug during one stoppage of play. Mookie Betts dapped him up after being stranded on base. Recalling the brief interaction with Freeman, Crawford said the Dodgers first baseman “said something like I don’t want this to be your last game in this uniform.”

But, in all likelihood, this was a farewell to the Giants, if not to professional baseball.

The Giants’ shortstop-in-waiting looks ready to seize the Opening Day job next season, and their shortstop of the past 13 years wrapped up the most trying season of his career. He joked that his body felt fresh because he just enjoyed a “10-day vacation.” But in reality, it was his fourth stint on the injured list this year.

Grounding out to shortstop in his last at-bat, Crawford’s batting average fell to .194, like most of his stats, the worst mark of his decorated career.

“The main thing will be if I want to come back and play baseball next year,” Crawford said of his looming decision. “There were a lot of parts I didn’t enjoy, unfortunately. But that’s baseball. You fail a lot in this game. Failing isn’t very fun. That’s probably partially why I haven’t made a decision yet. This year is far from how I pictured it going, whether it was going on the IL or just not playing well. Not kind of how I pictured to go out. So that’s definitely a factor.”

Crawford said he will consult with his family, who have accompanied him all the way, starting with his wife, Jalynne, ever since they met at UCLA. Their first-born, Braylyn, arrived two years into Crawford’s career. The nest has since grown to four, with a fifth on the way.

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It has been a family journey, so it had to be a family farewell, too.

All four kids threw ceremonial first pitches, with their dad crouched behind home plate.

Braxton, 7, appears to have the throwing arm of his dad, only from the left side. His youngest daughter, 9-year-old Jaydyn, seems to be taking after her mom, a collegiate gymnast, and showed off her acrobatic skills by back-flipping before firing her first pitch.

“She was very nervous about that,” dad said. “But she nailed it.”

DJ BC RAW

With Crawford possibly playing his final game for the Giants, DJ BC RAW also bid farewell with his annual selection of walk-up/warm-up songs for the Giants’ roster.

A sampling from the starting lineup and the pitchers who made an appearance:

LaMonte Wade Jr. – “Fireflies,” Owl City

Thairo Estrada – “Suavemente,” Elvis Crespo

Michael Conforto – “Glitter & Gold,” Barns Courtney

Joc Pederson – “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy),” The Offspring

Mike Yastrzemski – “Skeeyee,” Sexy Red

Tyler Fitzgerald – “Handclap,” Fitz & The Tantrums

Blake Sabol – “Loud,” Mac Miller

Casey Schmitt – “Just The Two Of Us,” Will Smith

Kyle Harrison – “Yay Area,” E-40

John Brebbia – “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” Mister Rogers

Taylor Rogers – “Take Me Home Country Roads,” John Denver

Ross Stripling – “Mr. Brightside,” The Killers

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