A man in sunglasses and a Giants sweatshirt poses while dozens of fans watch a game behind him.
Rafael Picazo takes a break from watching. the Giants game on Sunday to chat with volunteers. Photo taken by Annika Hom, April 30, 2023.

When the queen of Carnaval finished her breathtaking performance, the organization’s Rodrigo Durán took the stage. “Let the game begin,” he said.  

A giant flatscreen to stream the Giants’ baseball game towered over Alabama Street near the Latino Task Force Hub, and rows of white fold-up chairs were set up right in front. Dozens of Mission baseball fans draped in orange and black filed in the seats, ready to watch the second day of the Major League Baseball’s inaugural Mexico City series, which starred none other than the San Francisco Giants. The event was hosted by Carnaval, the Latino Task Force and the Giants

But for many at Sunday’s watch party for the Giants’ watch party’ game against the San Diego Padres, the Mexico City series symbolized how a typically American sport — one especially bolstered by Latinx players — would show love and gratitude to its international fan base. 

“Look at the stands,” said Rudy Lugo, a 59-year-old Mission native who was selling beer at the concession stand to the dozens of fans who came out to watch. “There’s lots of Giants fans in Mexico. It looks like even more than the Padres, and they’re right next door!” 

That representation — whether it be a video, merchandise, or the Spanish-version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” — surprised some Mission party attendees.

Before the first pitch was thrown at Alfredo Harp Helú Stadium, fans in the Mission watched the screen play a goofy YouTube video in which Mexican-born Giants outfielder Luis González has teammate Michael Conforto try Mexican candy for the first time; the latter coughs after downing some, making a Mission spectator erupt in bemused laughter. 

“What’s that one?” the man asked in Spanish, munching his Al Pastor Papi. 

His bespectacled son popped his head out of the row. “Lucas,” he responded authoritatively. 

“Mira, Lucas de Mango,” the man remarked in wondrous disbelief. 

  • A group of spectators watch a goofy YouTube clip of San Francisco Giants players trying Mexican Candy in fold-up chairs.
  • A man demonstrates his Gigantes hat and his Japanese Giants jersey.
  • An older Latino man in a beret and shades shows off a orange and white and black Giants jacket.

Between innings, David Canche, 38, sat in the shade and showed off a picture of Mexican-American former Giants reliever Sergio Romo smiling proudly next to the Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador his friend posted on Facebook. Romo and Venezuelan-born Pablo Sandoval, both players best remembered for their time during San Francisco’s World Series wins in 2010, 2012 and 2014, are Canche’s favorite Giants. 

“It’s impressive; you don’t do this every year,” Canche said about the Mexico City series. The Bayview resident is from Yucatán, Mexico, and remembered the first time he got a free ticket to watch a Giants game at what was then called  AT&T Park. He returned the favor to his daughter Isabella who, at seven months old, attended her first game, thanks to free tickets from an organization in the Marina.

“It’s a moment for Latinos to be proud of,” Canche said. “My daughter’s born here, but we’re still teaching the love of sports and Mexico.” 

Isabella, now 10, took a break from getting her face painted and acquiring a balloon animal to watch the game. The Cesar Chavez Elementary student, fluent in English and Spanish, declared she wants to play baseball, starting next year. Soon after, “you’ll see me on TV!” 

The team could use her, it seems. The Giants suffered yet another late-inning breakdown, falling 6-4 and dropping to 11-16 on the season. But, thankfully for those gathered in the Mission, there was plenty to distract from all that. 

On the side, the Giants gave away free merchandise and had some Giants gear for sale with the logo referencing an indigenous design, and further down were food trucks and low-riders. Roberto Hernández, chief executive officer of Carnaval, strolled around in a fedora lined with an orange band, and occasionally checked his phone to watch the Warriors game. “Here,” he said to a couple entering the party. “Get yourself a beer!”

Among the crowd was other international representation. Todd Eng, the president of the Marshall Elementary Parent Teacher Association, donned a “Gigantes” hat and a jersey from the Japanese baseball team, the Yomiuri Giants. His friend, Melissa Ryan, seated next to him, a “real Giants fan,” gifted him it. “It’s become a real embraced cultural sport,” Eng said. 

“It’s not just soccer,” agreed Jason Chew, 27, who came from Ingleside to watch. He, too, wore a Tokyo Giants jersey, one his roommate and friend, John Fields, gave him. Chew wears that jersey every time he watches the San Francisco Giants play at home. The fact the sport is thriving in Korea and Japan is “awesome,” he said. 

Despite that Fields is from San Diego and was boldly decked in Padres gear, the roommates enjoyed the game without incident. A Padres player hit a home run in the fifth, eliciting groans from everyone else. “I just won’t cheer too loud,” Fields said. 

A young man in a hat and a blue Japanese Giants jersey holds a peace sign while his friend hugs him. The friend is wearing a San Diego Padres outfit.
Jason Chew and John Fields, roommates, yet baseball rivals on Sunday, enjoy the Mexico City series together. Photo by Annika Hom, taken April 30, 2023.

Sports loyalties run deep, after all. Rafael Picazo, a born-and-raised Mission resident, emphasized how any sports win meant a surge of “pride” for the neighborhood. 

Gloria Flores, 46, who grew up on 23rd Street, gushed that she wished could be at the game  in person. She brought her three sons on Sunday, including Carlos, 14 and a shortstop player; she was pregnant with one and then another, she recalled, during the team’s championship reign. “We were just saying we’d go if we get the chance,” Flores said. “I think it’s more about being in that Latin community, you know, that feeling.”

The family attended Sunday’s event to watch an unveiling of a mural sponsored by the Giants. The artwork featured Flores’s niece, a Fogo Na Roupa Group dancer, and Giants players, artisanal-style Salvadoran houses, and the Golden Gate Bridge, and they took a photo with the muralists, including Agana, who created the La Doña mural.

Two young boys with 415 baseball hats stand next to. their mother in front of a mural.
Carlos Martinez, Ricardo Martinez, and Gloria Flores at the watch party for the MLB inaugural Mexico City series. Photo by Annika Hom, taken April 30, 2023.

Hernández thanked the Giants toward the end. “VIVA MEXICO, CABRONES!” He yelled into the mic. 

Two of the muralists, Anthony Jimenez and Josué Rojas, took a break from painting to watch the remainder of the game. Both of Jimenez’s parents are from Mexico, and his dad is from Mexico City. “It’s a beautiful cultural handshake, celebrating and appreciating each other,” he said. Following political tensions about the border, for example, a game series like this can “be unifying.”

Rojas added, “It’s always a proud moment of watching a team go abroad,” he said. “Especially to spread the gospel of San Francisco sports.”

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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. Good for Mission, but bad baseball. Pop-ups were home runs and the ground as hard as asphalt. 7,000 feet.

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  2. Viva Mexico! Y Vamos Gigantes!

    That was a great event, even though the Dubs were on at the same time and Steph stole some of their thunder, it was still a great turnout in the neighborhood for the Giants and for beisbol.

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