Giant's bullpen coach comes home to the Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

San Francisco's bullpen coach Mark Gardner came home to the valley on Friday, exhausted but thoroughly satisfied. From Clovis High to Fresno City College to Fresno State, Gardner truly is a home-grown Giant.

The Giants World Series title run has given an economic boost to stores like the Sports Fan at Manchester Center. Some of the San Francisco faithful were so confident they pre-ordered championship gear before the series even ended. Tom Moncton of Fresno said, "I went to game two and it was one of the coolest feelings ever. I just knew they were gonna win it when they won that day."

Giants bullpen coach Mark Gardner is just glad to finally be home. Gardner said, "There's much to be said about going into the playoffs on a roll. Oh I think so. That last month we had to play that way. We had to play the way that you would do in a playoff. Every game meant something."

Gardner said his ears are still ringing because of Wednesday's victory parade. "Unbelievable how many people deep they were on the sidewalks. The noise level was just constant. It's something you always dream about. You always see someone else doing it. Finally the Giants were able to bring it home to San Francisco."

Gardner is in charge of the Giants relievers. Long before "Fear the beard" became a slogan, Gardner noticed beards getting weird in the clubhouse, especially Brian Wilson's. Gardner explained, "And then the dye came. The dark black. It really looked fake. What is going on here? But hey we were winning so it was like all of sudden everyone was growing facial hair in the bullpen. I even had to get into it."

Gardner played a pivotal role in game six of the NLCS when Jonathan Sanchez hit Chase Utley with a pitch. Both benches cleared but the bullpen coach wouldn't let reliever Jeremy Affeldt stop warming up. Gardner said, "Just as I saw that I saw Jeremy go across and I stopped him and said hey you're going to be in the ballgame. Get going here. You stay here. So he turned around and got ready."

Affeldt immediately replaced Sanchez and retired the side. The Giants would go on to eliminate Philadelphia. Gardner said, "We lose that game there and it would have been hard to catch up."

During the Giants post-season run Gardner was only able to make two quick trips home in between games and workouts.

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