Andrew Gutierrez owns Sign-A-Rama in Union City, Calif., and a day before the 108th World Series began, he bought four standing-room-only tickets at $400 a pop "on a whim."
He proudly put on his No. 25 Barry Bonds "home run record jersey" and black Franklin batting gloves and took the BART train toward AT&T Park for Game 2 along with his girlfriend, Nicole Cabral, of Fremont, father, Tim, also from Fremont, and cousin Catherine Gonzalez of San Jose. It was the last game of the season at the home of the eventual World Series champs, and you know how that turned out.
The four of them made the most of it.
Just as the gates opened, they were plucked by MLB.com to compete in the hit game show "Bucks on the Pond" -- the first World Series edition and episode 26 posted at MLB.com/bucks this season. After a command performance -- watch the video and see for yourself -- they took in batting practice, and a Tigers player slugged a ball directly into Nicole's beer cup for a souvenir.
Then Madison Bumgarner, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo combined on a two-hit shutout, Brandon Crawford drove in one run with a double-play grounder and Hunter Pence the other on a sac fly, and the Giants had a 2-0 series lead on their way to an easy sweep of the Tigers in Detroit.
"We were barely on our way into the ballpark and your guys grabbed us," Gutierrez said in an email to MLB.com on Tuesday. "We were nervous because even though we arrived when the gates opened, we wanted to grab good standing room."
They wound up standing alongside a Navy lieutenant who had held the flag that night during the national anthem, as Major League Baseball dedicated Game 2 to military veterans and their families. They played "Bucks on the Pond" by the big Willie Mays statue.
"It was an unbelievable experience," Gutierrez said. "We didn't get a chance to go to the first World Series [in 2010], so this was our chance for redemption to the baseball gods. That day was amazing. The weather in San Francisco was perfect, the crowd was loud, and our view was the best ever. Once we won, we knew that we were going to sweep."
"Bucks" is hosted by Jeremy Brisiel, and you might be a part of it when you least expect it. Fans at the ballpark interact with MLB.com's studio through the magic of technology in conjunction with game action inside. In creating a new experience for fans, MLB.com is giving people a chance to earn bucks while they spend bucks at the ballpark.
Contestants are asked a trivia question -- general knowledge and baseball -- on each pitch during a half-inning of baseball. Get the question correct and win money. Get the question wrong and it's a strike. Three strikes and you're out.
The questions' difficulty and value increase with the number of outs in the on-field action: $5 easy questions to start, $10 medium-difficulty questions after one out, $20 hard questions after two outs. If the contestant lasts longer than the team's at-bat, they win the bucks in their bank.
Fans are chosen randomly by the "Bucks" crew, and new episodes are being released every Tuesday and Thursday, continuing with any World Series specials that were taped at AT&T Park and Comerica Park. This marked the second postseason show -- and the second Game 2 show -- taped at AT&T Park, as episode 23 featured siblings Ashley and Jimmy Bruce during the National League Championship Series.
After Nicole correctly answers a question asking what an eight-sided polygon is called, Tim looks over at his son and says nervously as the crowd starts to gather, "You know we're losing our seats, right?" Nicole, quite a bit shorter than the others, looks down and says, "Oh, I'm gonna have to use my stepping stool."
They stay around and have some trouble when asked a music question. Then comes the highlight of their appearance. The half-inning used by MLB.com for their episode was from the previous night's World Series opener, Justin Verlander on the mound for the Tigers, and when you see eventual World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval go yard off the ace, you can see how they fare with what amounts to a $90 question thanks to the Panda bonus.
"It was awesome," Gutierrez said of the show. "Seems like a great way for fans to be closer to the team."
Alas, Gutierrez said the crew was unable to attend the Giants' victory parade.
"We all had to work," he said.
There was enough to celebrate, anyway. And now they are starring in their own video, right where all other Giants fans can see, on the official team site.
In addition to the Giants, teams visited by the "Bucks" crew in 2012 include the Astros, Cardinals, Cubs, Marlins, Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Orioles, Tigers, White Sox and Yankees. Bookmark MLB.com/bucks and be on the lookout for the "Bucks" crew at your ballpark.