SF Giants have plenty of fans at New York bar
(04-08) 04:00 PDT New York --
As the San Francisco Giants take the home field today for the first time as World Series champs, the Anchor Steam will flow, fans will sport Tim Lincecum jerseys and everyone will reminisce about last season's magical torture.
That will be the scene along McCovey Cove. And it will be the same 3,000 miles away, at a bar in downtown Manhattan.
Of all the unlikely events that transpired around the Giants last fall, an otherwise nondescript Irish dive known as Finnerty's, in New York's East Village, has turned into a full-fledged San Francisco hangout and a testament to the team's burgeoning popularity. The Golden Gate Bridge is painted on a mirror behind the bar, and a dozen high-definition televisions show Giants baseball.
"I'd heard there was a Giants bar in New York and thought, awesome," says San Francisco-born, Philadelphia-dwelling Letticia Galvis, who turned up for one of the Dodgers games that opened the season last weekend. "I've been meaning to come for a while. It's almost like being home."
Both locals and tourists
Finnerty's patrons are both New York residents with Bay Area roots and vacationing San Franciscans who sneak in a stop between trips to Broadway, Times Square and ground zero.
Some are brave enough to try a shot called the "Barry Bomb," one part Jagermeister, one part Red Bull, one part orange soda - and three parts courage. The drink will be on special for the home opening weekend festivities starting today, accompanied by raffles for Giants jerseys, bobbleheads and even some Giants Snuggie blankets.
The San Francisco connection started with Annie Norwick, a slim, 30-year-old bartender who grew up a Niners fan in New Jersey and had assembled a few dozen 49ers diehards on Sundays in the fall in her previous bar of employment.
From Niners to Giants
When Norwick moved on to Finnerty's in 2009, she brought the so-called "Niners Legion of Fans NYC" with her. After football turned to baseball and the Giants started to catch fire last year, Finnerty's began packing in the Giants faithful.
Word of mouth and social media, driven by the likes of Meetup.com, Twitter and Facebook, helped establish Finnerty's as New York's place to be for all things San Francisco.
"I can travel all the way to the other side of the country and be surrounded by S.F. Giants logos, 49er jerseys and even a huge painted Golden Gate Bridge," wrote Cupertino's "Steph C." on Yelp.com. "I hella love NorCal."
The Giants, of course, called New York their home through 1957.
Trophy stops by
The bar's shining moment happened Jan. 22, when the World Series trophy popped in for 2 1/2 hours. About 1,500 fans queued up to see the hardware, says Finnerty's owner Brian Stapleton.
It's not uncommon for a Manhattan bar to serve as a home base for fans of out-of-town teams. A watering hole called the Hairy Monk, in the Murray Hill neighborhood, is a hangout for Boston fans, while Irish Exit in Midtown East draws Pittsburgh Steelers supporters. Other bars serve as virtual alumni clubhouses for colleges with big-time sports programs.
Some bars entice fans by hanging jerseys and banners on the wall. Finnerty's, located on Second Avenue between 13th and 14th streets, grew its San Francisco roots organically.
"Some people try to get that kind of following," says Stapleton. "We got selected. A lot of it was just dumb luck."
Turnout for Dodgers
A healthy crowd turned out for last weekend's series finale against L.A. "Let's go, Gi-ants!" chants erupted but could not rally the defending champs to victory.
Still, the mood was upbeat, patrons singing along with San Francisco-themed tracks in between innings. A certain Tony Bennett song is in the mix.
Norwick has never been to San Francisco, but the high-energy barkeep considers herself an honorary Bay Area original.
The West Coasters are friendly and laid back, she says, without the anxiety that marks many New York baseball fans.
"I have nothing but love," she says with a grin, "for San Francisco."
Michael Malone is a freelance writer based in New York. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.