How San Francisco became home for Penny after a huge deal appeared first on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO – A few hours after the 2012 trade deadline, Tim Lincecum stood in front of his locker and spent several minutes explaining to a large crowd of reporters how difficult it has always been to face Hunter Pence. While talking about Pence’s unique style, Lincecum saw something out of the corner of his eye. He looked past a reporter and saw Pence settling into the next locker.
“Oh,” Lincecum said, laughing. “He is!”
The two shook hands and talked for a few seconds, and then the two resumed work late into the night. Lincecum had just taken over for the New York Mets and young star Matt Harvey, and reporters had more questions. Then they all turned and faced Pence, one of the biggest deadline acquisitions in franchise history. He was overjoyed to be a Giant, but the day included one mild disappointment.
The Phillies were across the country in Washington, DC that day, and Pence was in a cab to the ballpark when Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. called to inform him of the trade. In a move that makes all the sense considering how the next few years went, Pence’s first thought was to find a way into the Giants that night.
“I just packed up my bags, said thank you, booked my own flight, flew over,” Pence said during an interview that will air on Monday’s “Giants Talk” Podcast . “I wanted to get there for the game. At that time, my attitude was that I play every day.”
That became clear to the Giants and their fans when Pence settled in. And few have settled in as a San Francisco giant like Pence did.
He was an All-Star on the field, so energetic and durable that manager Bruce Bochy nicknamed him “Full Throttle.” He was a leader in the clubhouse, with his rousing speeches helping to push the Giants to back-to-back titles. For years afterward, it was Pence who took the microphone when players gathered on the field after the final game or during a key moment.
Pence has become a fan favorite, and years after he was last an everyday player at Oracle Park, his No. 8 is still one of the most visible in the seats. He was a member of the community, visiting local coffee shops, planting trees and riding his scooter up and down the Embarcadero every day. A native of Texas, Pence and his wife, Alexis, have made their home in San Francisco, and he is a regular at team events and on Giants broadcasts.
Pence embraced everything he meant to be a Giant in San Francisco. Saturday at Oracle Park, the organization will make sure those contributions are never forgotten.
Pence will become the 55th player to go up on the organization’s Wall of Fame, and, fittingly, the man who led 40,000 times in a game of “Yes! Yes! Yes!” the chant will be the first to be ceremonially inducted on the field.
“I would love to be a Giant, I love San Francisco. It’s part of the fabric and fiber of my soul,” Pence said. “This city means the world to me, and the organization. I’m honored and very honored and excited to be a part of this great franchise.”
The plaques are reserved for players who spent at least nine seasons with the Giants, five All-Star selections, or won three titles. Penny qualified under the second path, but even though he was already 29 when he was traded to the Giants, he nearly checked off the other two as well.
Pence played eight seasons in San Francisco, signing a lucrative extension before he could hit free agency and then returning in 2020 for one final 17-game run after a comeback season with the Texas Rangers. He won two titles with the Giants, hitting .390 in 11 World Series games.
From the moment he shook hands with Lincecum, an agent shared with him, Pence looked comfortable in San Francisco.
“You’re good,” Lincecum told him that night.
“Good to see you, man,” Pence replied, a big smile on his face.
After speaking to reporters and changing out of the clothes he was originally wearing for a cab ride to the National Park, Pence sought information. He got a workout, preparing his body for the game the next day.
RELATED: Why Pence believes uncontested teams still have to play hard
Pennies were in the lineup a day after the deadline and basically didn’t come out of it for the next two and a half seasons. He started 331 consecutive games for the Giants at one point, finally resting after they clinched a playoff spot in 2014.
That trade turned into an all-time hit for the Giants, who sent Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin to Philadelphia. For Ping, it was a career-changing day and he took full advantage of it, making San Francisco his home.
“I think I’m very in tune with the fabric of the city and the thought process of the fans,” he said. “I met my wife here [and] he married here. I love the community, I love the people. I owe a lot to the city for letting me be myself. The free spirit, the free-thinking mentality, it was really a whole new attitude. Growing up in Texas is a little different. I love Texas and I’m very grateful for my time there, but yes, I feel very comfortable and I felt that I could be here.”
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