By Joseph Beyda
On April 13, two weeks after the start of the MLB season, I drove down to Monterey to visit my grandma’s grave. The last four months had been rough; I hadn’t known how to deal with the passing of a close family member for the first time. And that warm Sunday, with spring quarter off to a restless start and no pressing assignments needing to be finished, something compelled me to hop in my car.
I left the cemetery unsure whether the visit had helped — there just aren’t easy answers for certain things in life. I turned onto Highway 1 and flipped on the radio. The Giants were in the late innings against the Rockies, and the game was tied 4-4. Just a few minutes later, Brandon Crawford hit a walk-off, splash hit home run to give the Giants the win.
I couldn’t help but smile and think that my grandma had something to do with it.
Barbara Beyda grew up watching the New York (baseball) Giants, eventually reuniting with her favorite team when she followed my dad out to the Bay Area in the ’80s. I’m not sure I realized it as a little kid, but my grandma was probably the biggest baseball fan I knew.
Early each season, my dad or I would help her find the schedule online so she could print it out. After that, she was the one helping us keep up with the team. Whenever the Giants were putting together a big inning, I’d be whisked away from my homework by an excited phone call; many mornings, I’d wake up to her recap in my inbox. Grandma tuned in for every game, only missing the end if it ran too late into the night.
My grandma was one of the sharpest people I knew, especially when it came to the Giants. Well before closer Brian Wilson made “Fear the Beard” a t-shirt slogan, my grandma was keeping tabs on Rich Aurilia’s much-less-pronounced facial hair at shortstop — if he shaved, my dad and I were going to hear about it.
Few proud moments for the Giants were celebrated without her. I’ll never forget the aftermath of an NLCS win against the Cardinals when I was 9, as we all snaked our way down the incessant switchbacks of a ramp leading down from Pac Bell Park’s upper deck. Moving through the crowd wasn’t easy for a woman her age, much less with booming thundersticks and the chant of “Let’s Go Giants!” echoing through the tunnel. But when we got to the bottom, she was happy that we were just a game away from the World Series.
It got harder for her to go to Giants games in the years after that, but every summer, she would buy my dad and me the same joint birthday present: tickets to the game of our choosing, on the condition that we got the best seats we could find. That paid off a year ago when my dad caught his first ball after decades of watching baseball.
Grandma was our first phone call after the Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, the franchise’s first titles since 1954. It will be hard not making that call if the Giants can win another title in the next week or two, but nothing makes me happier than the fact that she got to see two more championships after she (and the team) left New York.
Those two postseason runs were unexpected, but this year’s has been just ridiculous. Most people don’t know how the Giants, who had the worst record of any 2014 playoff team, are back in the World Series for the third time in five years. They don’t know how the Giants are finding shutdown pitching once again with their 2010 ace sitting in the bullpen, their 2010 closer playing for the Dodgers, their 2012 ace injured and their 2012 closer having lost his job this season. They don’t know how the Giants keep coming up with clutch at-bats, winning games with 18th-inning home runs, walk-off throwing errors and everything in between, not to mention last week’s iconic Travis Ishikawa blast to end the NLCS. They don’t know how the Giants are just so…magical.
I know how.
To learn more about why Joey’s heart will be beating at 120bpm in the coming weeks, contact him at jbeyda ‘at’ stanford.edu