true-sf-giants-new-era-cap.jpgThe San Francisco Giants outlined some of their plans for the upcoming 2012 season and previewed some of the many promotions and special events planned for this year’s campaign at the team’s annual media open house held at AT&T Park today.

Giants President and Chief Operating Officer Larry Baer opened with remarks about the team’s legacy and the impact that its history is having on the organization’s current outlook.

“The franchise is 130 years old this year — 55 (of those) years in San Francisco. We’re very proud of the tradition of the franchise, and we’re very proud of all the partnerships that have allowed us to thrive and prosper,” he said.

Baer pointed to the fact that the Giants currently have a record of 10,522 wins–the most all-time wins by any team in Major League Baseball — as a reason to be optimistic about this year’s chances after the club failed to make the playoffs in 2011, one year after winning the World Series.

He also expressed enthusiasm about some of the team’s new players, along with the return of two key members of the squad who were out for much of last season because of injuries.

“We’re excited about the return of Buster Posey, he’s a huge part of the organization, as well as Freddy Sanchez. We can look at their return as adding two new players because they missed the bulk of 2011,” Baer said.

The Giants open the season April 6 on the road in Phoenix against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and then come back to San Francisco for their home opener on Friday, April 13 versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As part of the festivities on April 13, the Giants will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1962 World Series team with a gathering of players and alumni including Willie Mays, Alvin Dark, Don Larsen, Juan Marichal and Willie McCovey.

Many other special events and promotions are planned throughout the upcoming season, with a host of giveaways including bobblehead dolls, banners, hats, and more.

“I’m pleased to say that fans’ excitement about San Francisco Giants baseball is still as strong as ever,” said Mario Alioto, the Giants’ senior vice president of revenue, as he displayed a number of new items that are already proving to be a hit among fans that have bought tickets early.

Some of the more eagerly anticipated giveaways that Alioto showed off were the Brian Wilson garden gnome, which prominently features the pitcher’s signature beard, and the new Pablo Sandoval bobblehead, which captures the “Kung Fu Panda” in a unique diving pose.

Fans can expect a fair amount of changes and improvements to AT&T Park when they attend games this season, such as new layouts for food and beverage carts to allow for better views of the field, and wider access areas and walkways in certain areas of the stadium.

“We’ve been working hard to make this ballpark as contemporary, as beautiful and as fresh as when we opened the ballpark 12 years ago,” said Baer. “Our commitment here is to maintain and improve the ballpark so that it always feels fresh, it always feels like it’s at the very top level for fan experience.”

One major change to the park is the remodeled club level area, now renamed the Virgin America Club Level, featuring the signature paint schemes and lighting found on board the airline’s planes.

In addition to the expanded partnership at AT&T Park, the Bay Area-based airline unveiled the newest member of its fleet today, an Airbus A320 jet named “Fly Bye Baby,” painted and named in honor of the Giants.

The plane, which goes into service on April 2, features Giants logos on the fuselage and a large painted beard on the nose in a nod to the team’s “Fear The Beard” mantra of the past two seasons.

Sean McCourt, Bay City News

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