SAN FRANCISCO - For San Francisco Giants fans arriving at Oracle Park Friday for the Giants home opener, what a difference a year makes.
"I have tears in my eyes," said one fan. "It feels like being back with an old friend again," said another.
Friday's opener is the first time fans could watch them play in-person since 2019.
Last year, the team played to cardboard cutouts. No people were allowed inside because of the pandemic.
"I've been following the giants for 69 years. Missing last season was painful. And it's great to be back," said Jeffrey Bragman before the game.
Only about 8,900 fans were allowed inside. That's about 22% of what in most years is a sell-out.
"The difference between no fans and having a group like 8,000 is night and day for everyone, for players. The electricity," said Giants CEO Larry Baer.
But compared to what fans may be used to at Oracle, this is a whole new ballgame.
Besides a ticket, everyone, 12 years old and up, needs to show proof of a COVID vaccine or that they've tested negative recently.
No one seemed to mind.
"I think the only reason I got vaccinated is so I could come to the Giants game and have normalcy again," said Hannah Molinar.
The excitement of the day rippled out beyond Oracle, to the restaurants, bars.
Last Opening Day the area was almost empty. This time, it's a whole different vibe at the nearby Atwater Tavern.
"A jovial happy mood all over...people are so happy to be working. And then these customers are coming in like it's Christmas Day," said owner John Caine.
The Giants say it is entirely possible we could see full capacity again later in the season, COVID numbers permitting.