Bigelow’s Babble On by the Bay: Traditions And Tributes

by Catherine Bigelow

Miss Bigelow’s Babble On by the Bay
Miss Bigelow’s Babble On by the Bay

In an essay on America’s favorite pastime, the late MLB Commissioner Bart Giamatti once penned a poignant description of baseball: “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.”

That truism was keenly felt by the San Francisco Giants, the winningest team in the regular season this year. Yet in spite of losing the NLDS playoffs to the darned Dodgers, there were many moments of joy at Oracle Park.

World champ slugger Buster Posey and his wife, philanthropist Kristen Posey, welcomed 250 friends, doctors and teammates to their field of dreams on September 27 for their annual BP28 Takes the Field fundraising dinner and concert starring singer Tyler Rich. Led by Giants’ “voice” Renel Brooks-Moon and auctioneer Liam Mayclem, supporters raised more than $1 million for Posey Family Grants, which benefits UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals’ efforts in pediatric cancer research and less toxic treatments for young patients.

Since the 2016 founding of this endeavor — of which 100 percent of proceeds directly fund this cause near and dear to the Poseys’ hearts — the couple has raised more than $5 million.

“When I think about children being treated for cancer, it’s hard not to think about my own kids. I can’t imagine that despair and fear of the unknown. But this is a reality many parents face every year,” said Buster Posey, his voice catching in his throat. “With proper funding, researchers can crack the code to some of these diseases and potentially save a child’s life. I remain hopeful, one day, a doctor will be able to say, ‘Your child has cancer but it’s going to be OK; they’re going to be OK.’”

Hometown heroes: For most of its 42-year history, the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF) has held its honors inside a hotel. But, COVID. So in 2021, this October 4 event was planned outdoors at Oracle Park. However, the possibility of a tie-breaker between the Giants and Dodgers to determine the winner of the NL West was a looming possibility on the ballpark’s calendar.

On this year’s honors docket: former Giants skipper Bruce Bochy, former 49ers defensive tackle Bryant Young, Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin, Oakland A’s legend Rickey Henderson and Paul Cayard, an EssEff native and world champion yachtsman.

Thankfully the Giants clinched the division the day before. Otherwise it would have created a major scheduling conflict for this nonprofit, which provides Bay Area youth sports scholarships. And for Mario Alioto, a longtime Giants front office honcho and BASHOF trustee.

Since founding their Posey Family Grants, SF Giants catcher Buster Posey and his wife, Kristen, have raised more than $5 million for pediatric cancer research. | Photo courtesy of Catherine Bigelow

“As Giants fans, we know when you least expect it, amazing things can happen. But it was an emotional weekend: During every game, I was thinking, ‘If we tie, how do I tell everyone the Hall of Fame is postponed?’” said Alioto, who began his Giants career in 1972 as a 12-year-old batboy. “I will sleep very well tonight.”

Semper fi: The pews at Stanford Memorial Church were filled to their 500-person capacity on October 7 at a memorial celebrating the long, well-lived life of the late George Shultz, a former secretary of state and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, who died in February at age 100. Shultz was also a storied diplomat, distinguished Hoover Institution fellow, economist, nuclear disarmament proponent, loyal Marine and a noted twinkle toes.

His beloved wife, Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz, not only created this heartfelt and distinguished memorial (led by Rt. Rev. Bishop William Swing), but also skillfully corralled eulogies by three former secretaries of state (Condoleezza Rice, James Baker and Henry Kissinger) as well as that office’s current appointee, Secretary Antony Blinken.

Rice, a Shultz protege and friend, said Shultz was the consumate public servant: “George was our North Star for integrity and patriotism.” Kissinger, 98, recalled a pact he made with Shultz that each would speak at the other’s memorial.

“I’m not sure how George will carry out his end of the bargain,” he noted, wryly. But with respect for the acumen of his longtime friend and colleague, Kissinger echoed what many in the pews thought: “If I could pick a president of the United States, I would choose George Shultz.”

BOND VC Noah Knauf with Denise Hale (center) and Boulevard chef-owner Nancy Oakes at a lunch celebrating the restaurant’s Ken Fulk-designed refresh. | Photo courtesy of Drew Altizer

Outside the church, family and friends gathered atop the historic main quad for a McCalls cocktail reception, with performances by the 1st Marine Division Band and the Marianne Kent Band. But all looked to the sky as the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing — participating in the Fleet Week Air Show — zoomed overhead in final tribute, honoring Shultz’s WWII service with a traditional flyover.

New hue: Amid painful COVID closures for city restaurants, the concept of “planning ahead” was not on the menu. So when chef-owner Nancy Oakes was finally able to reopen her beloved, Belle Époquestyle, high-dining bistro, she felt the need for a refresh.

“Boulevard has great bones,” she notes of the mosaic-tiled and stainedglass space located in the historic Audiffred Building across from The Embarcadero. “But after 28 years, it was time to change things up and emerge from COVID with something more vibrant.”

That included joining forces with designer Ken Fulk to create a larger lounge space, adding luxe fabrics and trading the wood plank for an alabaster version — featuring new cocktail offerings by mix master Greg Lindgren. With Executive Chef Dana Younkin, Boulevard’s menu now includes a la carte options along with more traditional three- and four-Course dining.

Before opening to the public, Oakes’ devoted friend Denise Hale test-drove the concept with a lunch for pals, including Alexis Traina, S.F. Symphony maestro Esa-Pekka Salonen, SFS President Priscilla Geeslin; Paul Pelosi; Gazette co-owner Janet Reilly; Alex Chases and Gorretti Lo Lui.

“Denise loves her new ‘blue fabric back room’ facing the Bay,” says Oakes, with a laugh. “The new menu allows diners to enjoy more of a drop-in Boulevard experience. Instead of being trapped by a nine-course tasting menu, guests can swing by for a small bite or an emergency cocktail.”

Join Catherine Bigelow each month for a roundup of newsy nuggets, boldface names and juicy tidbits. Gotta item to share? Email [email protected].

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