SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants called upon their greatest player and best finisher to provide the stirring conclusion to Friday's pregame ceremony that celebrated the club's 2010 World Series triumph. The banner commemorating the first Series victory in the franchise's San Francisco history wouldn't simply be affixed to a flagpole and hoisted high. More than that was necessary. The Giants called upon Mays, their living legend who starred on the franchise's previous World Series-winning team in 1954, to emerge from the dugout and bring the folded flag to Bruce Bochy. The Giants manager, who stood in third-base foul territory alongside the championship trophy that was perched atop a pedestal, then started a chain in which the banner was passed from player to player.
At the end of the line stood Brian Wilson. But not for long. Wilson, the closer who sealed 48 victories last year and six more in the postseason, dashed across the outfield, climbed a temporary stairway into the right-center-field stands, jogged up an aisle (accompanied by policemen and security guards) and made his way next to a pole that matched the height of the one flying the American flag. The ballpark clock read 1:32 p.m. as a club employee helped Wilson raise the orange pennant that bore black trim and lettering, along with a likeness of the championship trophy. "I was afraid of the flag being upside down," Wilson said. "I was really nervous about that part. But everything went well." A replica of the banner also was unveiled on the left-field wall. "I got butterflies in my stomach," Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval said. "I wanted to cry." Julie Pilossoph, a native San Franciscan and lifelong Giants fan, conveyed the emotions that thousands of others at the packed ballpark doubtlessly felt as they watched tangible evidence of the team's success wave proudly in the sky. "That was one of the most unbelievable moments," Pilossoph said. "It's finally real and happening in our own park and we can share it. [I've got] tears and goosebumps! The Giants did an incredible job. It's surreal." Said Peter Magowan, the Giants' former managing general partner, "I think it'll be a time that people who were here today will never forget. They'll tell their children and grandchildren, 'I was there.'" The flag-raising concluded festivities that portrayed the Giants as conquering heroes -- which they of course were. Earlier, as the rock group Train finished singing "Save Me San Francisco," Bochy led players into the park through the center-field gate, striding between smoke-producing sparklers as they headed for the third-base line and individual introductions. Train's lead singer, Pat Monahan, sang the national anthem -- a performance accompanied by a flyover from the VFA-122 Flying Eagles from Lemoore, Calif. Then came more revivals of 2010. After a video was shown of Wilson striking out Nelson Cruz to end the Series, the bearded right-hander produced the final ball and presented it to James Semmet, a Giants season-ticket holder since the club moved west in 1958. The ball will be displayed at AT&T Park for all to see. "We didn't just win this as a team, we won it as a community," Wilson said in a brief address. Outfielder Cody Ross, named Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series, and right-hander Tim Lincecum, elected postseason MVP by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, were recognized. That was followed by a "moment of reflection" for Bryan Stow, the Giants fan critically injured in a beating outside Dodger Stadium after the March 31 season opener. Bochy remained standing near home plate through those events, and it became clear why he loitered there. The entire team gathered by the mound, where right-hander Matt Cain, the senior Giant in terms of continuous service, threw the ceremonial first pitch. The salute to the flag came next.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.