SAN FRANCISCO -- Each of us who religiously follows the San Francisco Giants has a game plan to snag as many autographs and pictures as possible at the annual Fan Fest at AT&T Park.
Taking advantage of the free parking and park entry, we lined up outside the entrances to the stadium long before sunrise and hours before the gates opened at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Radio station KNBR set up stands to pass out buttons, posters, bumper and window stickers and cards for drawings to pass the time before the gates opened. Station staff asked ask Giants trivia questions and gave out some of the freebies as prizes.
Most of us at the front of the line answered, in unison, the statistics questions. Then one of the hosts started asking about players' home lives.
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"What is Tim Lincecum's dog's name, or do you know the breed?"
I practically jumped on him and answered, "The bulldog's name is Cy!"
That was all to get a poster that I already have. But I had to win to justify my knowledge of the team.
Joggers running past the park looked at those of us in line, shivering in the cold, as if we were crazy.
Waiting for the stampede in, everyone shared stories of previous years at Fan Fest and stories of games they've attended that served as markers of life -- wedding proposals, birthdays, and bringing baby to his first game.
Once inside the park, it's tough to maneuver the autograph booths, as the players are frequently rotating from station to station. You can be in a line for your favorite player, but if you don't reach the front quickly enough, you may get somebody else.
It's tradition that I make my first stop in the Kid's Club line, where autographs are signed for children 16 and younger. This was probably my last year of getting away with entering the line, as I'm 17 and 6 feet tall.
Taking the risk of getting caught was too great once when I read that Pablo Sandoval was one of the players at that booth. Miraculously, I got through to meet him. Unfortunately, while in that line,
I was turned down by the balloon-animal man for an orange balloon bear.
It's exciting to get into the photography line with a group of players. I stopped my autograph runs when I saw the list of Alex Hinshaw, Dan Runzler and Buster Posey up at the photo station.
You can take a tour around the park, checking out the seats, field offices and even the field itself. Vendors are as far as the eye can see within the hallways. Paintings and other memorabilia can be bought at close to cost. Park banners from the the previous season are for sale, as are grab bags filled with old Giants merchandise, signed balls and bobbleheads.
General Manager Brian Sabean, coaches and players hold seminars and, if you're lucky, you might even run into a player passing by.
There's a lifetime of history to experience on this one day.
Whatever your age, Fan Fest has an abundance of activities to suit anyone. Consider going to the 18th annual Fan Fest next year.
I challenge you to get up early and beat me to the front of the line.
Whatever one does with the day, it's one not to miss.
Stephanie Rodin is a junior at Pitman High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom program.