SAN FRANCISCO – The crazy scene at AT&T Park resembled opening day. All-Star closer Brian Wilson and Rookie of the Year catcher Buster Posey needed a police escort to make their way through the concourse.
More than 40,000 fans flooded the ballpark Saturday to greet and cheer the World Series champions at San Francisco's annual FanFest. It was the largest crowd the club has hosted at the annual event that leads up to spring training.
So many people showed up that the Giants had to turn away hundreds who were standing in a line about three football fields long that stretched around McCovey Cove beyond the right-field wall. And that was just outside one of the gates.
With the temperature pushing 70 degrees and the scent of garlic fries in the air on a spectacular, sunny afternoon in February, some of those who did make it inside were left waiting up to four hours to get autographs. Others gave up and left in frustration.
Security outside the ballpark yelled: "Gates are closed. No more entry."
The gates were later reopened once some of the early fans had exited.
"We shut the gates to get the lines under control. We've been getting the message out since 11 a.m., 'Don't come because we won't be able to accommodate you,'" Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said. "Wow."
Slaughter said attendance Saturday was "well more than 40,000" — comparable to a busy game day — though she didn't have an exact total because people were spread out from the field to the stands and even to the press box. FanFest has attracted between 10,000 and 20,000 people in the past.
The gates opened at 9:30 a.m. for season-ticket holders and 11 a.m. for the rest of the public.
Soledad McCarthy, husband Daniel, and his sister, Katie, got in line at 8 a.m. to get in on time. They are fourth-generation San Franciscans and their family has held season tickets for more than 35 years.
"You can't even move," Katie McCarthy said as they left. "It's packed, and it's getting worse. We stopped and listened to Brian Wilson and his rants and antics."
By midday Saturday, the Giants had sold more than 100,000 single-game tickets — compared to 60,000 at this point a year ago. Nearly all of the individual tickets just went on sale Saturday morning.
"We are well ahead of where we were last year coming off a very good season in 2009," Slaughter said.