They were here, standing behind and near the Giants' dugout, shouting at the top of their lungs, chanting "Beat L.A.!" just for fun, even though the Commissioner's Trophy was right there on the field and in their possession. They wore fake beards and hugged strangers and screamed "Rookie of the Year!" at Buster Posey, and they got emotional about it all because this had never happened before.
The San Francisco Giants are 2010 World Series champions, and these were about 2,000 of their hungriest fans who had been scattered throughout Rangers Ballpark during Game 5 on Monday night. Right after Brian Wilson retired Josh Hamilton, Vlad Guerrero and Nelson Cruz in order, sealing a 3-1 win and a title, the fans scurried to the meeting spot, just as Red Sox fans did in 2004 at St. Louis.
"It sounds silly, but I've accomplished everything really that I need to do in life," said John Chasey of San Jose, there with his wife Joanne. "A family, a wife, everything. This is something I've been waiting 56 year for. It hasn't hit me yet, but it's a longtime dream."
"This means everything," said Donnie Sebastiani of Sonoma, Calif. "I'm 33 years old, and I've been rooting for this my whole life. My brother and I flew out from Sonoma this morning to come see this game. We have tickets for [Games] 6 and 7, and we didn't want to see another game. I packed my flag. I packed my rally rag. I've got my Will Clark jersey. I'm good to go."
Tim Lincecum came out and held the Commissioner's Trophy up high. Then Wilson took it from him, just as he had taken the ball from the right-handed starter to pitch the ninth inning. These fans roared every time, completely satisfied. This is what they wanted to see. You never knew what the players would look like or where it would happen, but in your mind's eye, you pictured this someday, somehow.
You remember that blustery July day at the 'Stick when Clark hit one out, that night you took your kid to his first game and Rod Beck got the save, that time in 2002 when it should have happened, the stories the old-timers would tell you about Bobby Richardson snagging Stretch McCovey's liner, the good times and the tough times and the patience you showed forever as a loyal fan.
So now you were right here, and this was not a dream.
"It means I can go to sleep now," said Will Htun, who now lives in Los Angeles. "It means after all that torture, I can get some rest. It means I need to get a massage, because I've got all this stress built up.
"We've never had a championship in San Francisco that I've been able to see. The last team to win anything in San Francisco was the Niners. I'm 26. I was a little kid then, when they won the Super Bowl in San Diego. I've been a fan of the Giants my whole life. This is unreal."
Manager Bruce Bochy walked out of the dugout, and fans erupted: "BO-CHY! BO-CHY!"
They chanted for every player. Jeremy Affeldt picked up his son and hugged him tightly, and the fans gave an adoring cheer, as if they were all from the same family, which they sort of were.
Lords of the rings
They screamed to make sure the players and coaches and families on the field would notice them in the stands, and of course they did. Players just looked at them and shook their heads. This was the closest you could come to sharing it with your home fans back at AT&T Park.
Karl Rohlich, 62, grew up in Madison, Wis., now lives in Austin, Texas, and has always been a Giants backer because of a man who used to wear No. 24 and made an unfathomable catch to help win it all in 1954 -- Willie Mays. No one could have imagined it would take 56 years to win the next title.
"I've been a Giants fan since 1958, and it means the world to me," Rohlich said. "I grew up loving Willie Mays. I'm in heaven. I just never thought I would see it in my lifetime. I'll die a happy man."
Rohlich closed his eyes tightly at one point, and it looked like he was unlocking a hidden memory, maybe of Willie, maybe of Dave Dravecky, maybe of Matt Williams, maybe of Barry Bonds -- but definitely of the road that got here. This was not a dream.
"This is such a great team, because it's the most improbable Giants team to win it," Rohlich said amid the din. "Just a bunch of people put together, and everybody's a hero every night. Cody Ross -- what an unbelievable job he did. And the pitching just carried us."
When World Series MVP Edgar Renteria hit the three-run homer in Game 5 that finally broke up the nerve-racking pitchers' duel between Lincecum and Cliff Lee, Matt Mitchell's "knees buckled. It was just awesome."
Mitchell was there with his wife, Nanette, and their three children. Nanette is originally from San Jose, and they live in Rogers, Ark., now -- Giants fan transplants like so many others. They had to be here.
"This is incredibly exciting to have the Giants win their first World Series in over 50 years," Mitchell said. "Just an awesome night. Great performance by Lincecum. It was just a blast."
The party went on strong for a long time. It started here, with these thousands, with this sea of bright orange, once-tortured souls, going right along with "Deep In The Heart Of Texas" and "Cotton Eyed Joe" and the locals' way, because being anywhere but here was not an option. They were in a peaceful place now, happy, celebrating champions at last.