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Best Way to Catch a Giants Baseball from Outside the Park San Francisco 2011 - McCovey Cove via City Kayak

McCovey Cove via City Kayak

McCovey Cove via City Kayak

Pier 40, Embarcadero

San Francisco, CA 94107


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By Mollie McWilliams

It's 15 seconds of fame, and endless bragging rights — a Giants' baseball sails across the field and into your glove. But if you're not in the stands, the best alternative is McCovey Cove via City Kayak's game-day rentals. If you're a beginner, all the better, as the lucky few who have snagged a ball in a City Kayak rental usually didn't set out with visions of such glory. "The ones who come [and are] very serious about catching a ball — it's usually not them," owner Ted Choi says.

Choi recounts that a family of four came out for a game, and the daughter made the catch. Another time, a newlywed couple caught a home-run ball whacked by the opposing team. A baseball-fueled whirlwind ensued for the newlyweds, and months later, they returned to City Kayak to tell Choi about what happened after the lucky catch. The team wanted the ball and traded the couple a trip out to their city, luxury hotel suites, and great seats to a game.

If you think you may be lucky enough to catch a "splash hit," City Kayak, next to the ballpark at Pier 40, provides rentals for all Giants home games. A day of baseball debauchery on the bay costs $49 in person, $44 online. City Kayak provides basic lessons for first-timers, and all rentals include a dry jacket, splash pants, life jacket, light stick, and parking pass. It offers a few nets, if you forget yours, and you can push off up to two hours before the game. Many kayakers set up behind right field during batting practice, but feel free to paddle around McCovey Cove and Mission Bay — all you have to do is bring the boat back when the game ends.

Game-day kayakers may fantasize about the elation of catching a ball, but Choi says their main motive is to enjoy the game. This is easy to do when surrounded by the often-lively boat-party scene, where water crowds can range from a few (night games) to upward of 600 (A's vs. Giants games). You won't be able to see much of the big screen, so bring a waterproof radio, and if it's a day game, wear sunscreen and a hat. Boats anchor behind the kayaks, so they won't block your chances of that (possible) catch, and being inside the cove means you can hang onto your net (rather than the paddle) and float without being pulled out by the tide. Score.

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