Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Giants - Earth Day 2009

He may be the only snake in the world to have thrown an opening pitch. Balthazar, a red-tailed boa constrictor, took centre stage with the San Francisco Giants this afternoon in celebration of Earth Day.

Admittedly, Chris Andrews, Director of the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences, threw the ball with his right hand, but wrapped around his left was Balthazar, opening the game between the Giants and the San Diego Padres.

The Giants were marking Earth Day this year in conjunction with the Academy at the Golden Gate Park, and PG & E, the Pacific Gas and Electricity company.

Inside the stadium, the Academy staff held an exhibition with small reptiles and tree frogs, and both the Academy and PG & E gave out information on the sustainability of the planet and on the effort that the Giants have made to turn their stadium green.

Outside, messages from the players about saving the planet were beamed in between play from the scoreboard.

The day was a sponsored Esurance Earth Day 2009, and the first 20,000 fans to arrive received a fabric grocery bag.

The Academy's Communications Specialist, Helen Taylor, said they had had 'a very positive response, people were interested to learn something new.' The team had engaged people's interest partly through asking trivia questions, she said.

A free gift of a smart black water bottle was given out and a leaflet, 'Sustainability Made Simple.' In it, the card has three categories of travel, food, including both purchase and eating in restaurants, and the home with tips on how to work towards saving the planet.

Samples of the examples: walk or cycle for short trips, and turn off your engine rather than idling; eat more chicken and seafood and less beef, and eat in local restaurants that offer local, seasonal and organic ingredients; turn off unnecessary lights and take shorter showers.

A carbon footprint calculator was also brought along by PG & E, which people were using with enthusiasm. The calculator allowed people to compare their footprint against the average Californian, the average American and the average person in the world.

It was certainly clear that the Giants players had more than baseball on their minds this afternoon. Filmed inside the Academy in the Golden Gate Park, the players urged their fans to save energy and recycle trash.

With brilliantly-coloured butterflies of the Academy's rainforest in the background, fans were even asked to write to their member of Congress to ask them to make saving the world's rainforests a priority.

The weather made it a particularly appropriate day to think about the environment. With a run of exceptionally high spring temperatures in the 80s continuing, the stands were scorching and views of the Bay breathtaking.

The Disneynature - Earth film being released today was advertized, and other gifts given away. One group received a poster, an evergreen seedling, wild-flower seeds and a plastic reusable shopping bag.

Brothers Jason and Justin from the Bay Area were part of the small group to receive the gifts. 'I think my wife, Carlyn, will be excited about the seedling and the seeds because we need plants for our patio. I'll give them to her when I get home,' said Justin.

As for the game against the Padres? 'We are all the way up in the ninth inning - there has not yet been a run scored this game,' said the commentator as the afternoon was winding down.

But it was not yet over. In the tenth inning, Bengie Molina, conserving energy and style to the end, scored a run and the stadium erupted as the Giants beat the San Diego Padres 1-0.

pics show: player messages filmed at the California Academy of Sciences; Aaron Pope, Manager of the Sustainability Programme at the CAS, and Helen Taylor, Communications Specialist giving information and free water bottles; brothers Jason and Justin; the winning moment!

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