Following his Friday Q&A session with reporters, Jim Harbaugh stepped off the podium and fielded some more questions. Turns out the 49ers coach has baseball fever, too.
Both the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s have made the Major League Baseball postseason they both have a fan in Harbaugh. The coach grew up a Cleveland Indians fan, but eventually switched his allegiance to the Detroit Tigers after his family used to receive free tickets from outfielder Gates Brown, who grew up in the same hometown as Harbaugh’s father, Jack.
But Harbaugh has lived in the Bay Area for the past few years and has since adopted the two local teams.
“Now I’m a Giants and A’s fan,” Harbaugh said. “Can’t get over how good the baseball is here this year.”
Baseball has been a hot topic around 49ers headquarters since Giants legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays visited on Wednesday. 49ers CEO Jed York tweeted a picture of himself with Harbaugh and Mays, something the coach appreciated greatly.
“Once I saw that picture, I was like, ‘Wow,’” Harbaugh said. “Who would have ever thought that Harbaugh would be sitting next to Willie Mays with a big smile on his face? What a great afternoon. … Got to meet Willie Mays. Doesn’t get any better than that.”
Harbaugh enjoyed his visit with Mays, whom he has called the greatest baseball player of all-time, and received a Mays-signed Giants onesie for his newborn son, Jack. Mays also traded his Giants cap for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s 49ers hat, which elicited a reaction from Harbaugh.
“I was, like, the heck? Why does Vic get this hat?” Harbaugh said. “The real shame of Vic getting Willie Mays’ hat is Vic and I have had a long-running, three-year debate on who the greatest baseball player in the history of baseball is. He votes for Babe Ruth.”
That hasn’t stopped Fangio from wearing the black Giants cap around 49ers headquarters with pride.
The Giants are set to open their playoff series against the Cincinnati Reds in San Francisco on Saturday while the A’s are in Detroit to begin their series against the Tigers. Harbaugh said watching the A’s and Giants win their respective division titles has been motivating.
“It’s very inspirational,” Harbaugh said. “A bunch of our guys have been inspired by that, both what the Giants and the A’s are doing and what they will do.”
Harbaugh made one thing clear: he isn’t picking sides. If he had his way, there would be a reprise of the Bay Bridge World Series between San Francisco and Oakland later this month. In the meantime, Harbaugh encouraged Bay Area sports fans to do the same.
“There should be a great relationship between those two teams and fans,” Harbaugh said. “It doesn’t have to be like Republicans and Democrats. It could be, like, all togetherness.”
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