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Teddy bears and baseball: Two of my favorite things
Build-A-Bear Workshop and the San Francisco Giants have teamed up at AT&T Park for the 2006 baseball season. Fans will be able to make their very own Lou Seal mascot or other Giants-themed, furry friends. Opposing teams’ uniforms will also be available. Jorgen Gulliksen/Register

SAN FRANCISCO — As soon as I entered this season’s annual Media Open House Tuesday at AT&T Park I saw him. The 19-inch tall Lou Seal stuffed animal. He had a little Giants jersey on with his backwards hat and the lovable pot belly we Giants fans have grown to adore.

After grabbing my name tag and my 2006 season’s media guide, I went over to Lou Seal and began inquiring with the Build-A-Bear Workshop people about how to obtain my very own stuffed mascot. Build-A-Bear Workshop and the San Francisco Giants have teamed up for the 2006 baseball season so fans can make their very own Lou Seal mascot or other Giants-themed, furry friends.

Once fans make their stuffed pal, they can dress them up in Giants gear. Opposing teams’ uniforms will also be available for those crazy Dodger fans, like my managing editor Bill Kisliuk. There are monkeys, orange teddy bears and Lou Seals for kids, and professional adults like myself, to chose from.

I decided to brave the cold and rain and build a stuffy for my two favorite girls. I made a Lou Seal to give to my mom, Kelli, and sister, Emily. See, they have a room in their house dedicated to the American Pastime. Yes, and entire room for their bobble heads, autographed balls, and pictures. Of course, it’s mostly Giants memorabilia.

I even bought a scuba gear outfit for Lou Seal to adorn for when he wants to go swimming in their pool or makes the trip out to McCovey Cove. When I presented the new member of the family to my mom and sister, they were thrilled and plan on purchasing more stuffies throughout the season.

My mom plans on getting a Build-A-Bear for her mom, who is a Dodgers fan, though I don’t typically like to admit that, on Mother’s Day weekend when Los Angeles comes to town for a three-game series.

As fabulous as the Build-A-Bear addition to AT&T Park is, that’s not the only thing the Giants have done to upgrade the seven-year old ballpark.

But it is the coolest.

The Giants have added 225 HD flat panel screens throughout the park for fans’ viewing pleasure. They have also added a pair of state-of-the-art LED fascia boards to replace the rotating advertising panels at the base of the Club Level on both the first- and third-base lines.

“The team’s slightly re-engineered. There are some familiar faces, some new faces,” Larry Baer, Giants executive vice president and chief operating officer, said. “Just like a baseball team, we feel the ballpark should be re-engineered and refreshed. We’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of effort to keep it highly desirable for the fans. When this ballpark is 30 years old it will still look young.”

There are a number of renovations to the promenade level. Views of the Embarcadero are visible due to former food stands relocating, there is a new elevated deck above Lefty O’Doul Plaza featuring a new bar and barbecue with a view of McCovey Cove, the Juan Marichal Statue and the Lefty O’Doul Bridge.

When slugger Barry Bonds hits his next splash hit, it will be over the new Levi’s Landing. The five-year partnership between the Giants and Levi’s will include special promotions for fans. Seat cushions will be given out to the first 15,000 fans on Monday, May 1 for the first-annual 501 day against the Padres. For every game the Giants win 5-1, ticket holders will be able to redeem their ticket for 15 percent off at Levi’s store in Union Square.

The Giants will have a ’80s Retro Night on Friday, June 23 when they host their cross-bay rival Athletics. Both teams will wear their throw-back jerseys and fans are encouraged to dress accordingly as well. The Giants will throw Hall of Famer Willie Mays a 75th birthday party before their Friday, May 12 game against the Dodgers. Orange Fridays will continue, so bring your gear.

Former Giant Kirk “Woody” Rueter will be honored for his 10 1/2-year career with San Francisco on Saturday, Aug. 19 so remember to bring your Woody dolls to wave around.

Three different bobble heads will be distributed this season, the first a Omar Vizquel bobble head on Sunday, May 28 against the Rockies, the second bobble head is of Moises Alou to be given out on Sunday, June 11 when the Giants host the Pirates. The first 20,000 fans will receive these toys for free so get there early so you’re not searching for one on E-Bay the next day. The final bobblehead is for kids and will be given out to the first 5,000 kids 10 and under on Sunday, June 25 against the A’s.

My mom is upset it’s only for 10-year olds.

All in all, it looks like this season is going to be a good one. We’ve got a pretty healthy Bonds back and a strong pitching rotation with the first four starters, and did I mention you can make your own Lou Seal?

E-mail Napa Valley Register Sports Writer Erin Lawley at elawley@napanews.com or call 256-2212.

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