Orioles manager Brandon Hyde reflects on growing up near San Francisco

Published 6/2/2023 10:01 p.m. EDT, Updated 6/2/2023 10:06 p.m. EDT

Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde watches the game from the dugout in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Baltimore on Monday, May 8. The Rays and Orioles played the first game of a series on Monday.

SAN FRANCISCO — The drive to Santa Rosa, the city Brandon Hyde grew up in, brought back a flood of memories. He now lives in Florida during the offseason, and his 162-game slate as manager of the Orioles makes return trips to this area few and far between.

But, when he does return, the beauty of the North Bay area of California washes over him. There’s the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, and the site where Candlestick Park once stood. The San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay, into wine country, around Sugarloaf Ridge State Park — Hyde and Tim Cossins, an assistant coach who’s also from the area, drove by them all during their day off from baseball.

“You don’t realize, I think when you grow up here … just how beautiful along the North Bay is, the wine country,” Hyde said. “When you live here every day, it’s kind of one of those things, you don’t notice it after a while. But then you come back and you’re like, ‘Wow.’”

That’s part of what makes this three-game series at Oracle Park against the San Francisco Giants special for Hyde. His parents, Lucy and Barry, will be here for all three games. A rotating cast of friends will also join, donning Orioles orange instead of Giants orange. Members of Cossins’ family will be here too.

This is the place where Hyde fell in love with baseball. This is where his path to 600 games — and counting — as a manager began. And, for the first time, Hyde is managing a team at Oracle Park against the ballclub he grew up watching and rooting for.

Now, with those close to him in the stands, he hopes to manage a strong series for Baltimore — a club that entered Friday in second place in the American League East. Hyde has other allegiances now, but it doesn’t make this any less special.

“Growing up here, and then playing high school and junior college baseball around here, so traveling quite a bit in this area,” Hyde said. “Just like the drive out to Sonoma yesterday. I kind of forget what that was like and how nice that is, and just how beautiful the country is.”

Once the Orioles landed at the airport late Wednesday night, Hyde looked out of the team bus at the site of the now-demolished Candlestick Park. He thought about the games he watched there with his dad and his friends, taking in the glory that quarterback Joe Montana brought the 49ers and the early career stardom Will Clark reached with the Giants.

He visited friends and family in Santa Rosa, catching up with a lot of converted Orioles fans because of their connection to him. He recalled the moments when he visited Oracle Park as a member of the Chicago Cubs’ coaching staff.

There are also the sobering moments, though, that come as a result of being far away for so long. On his drive north, Hyde saw sections of the country devastated by wildfires over the years. He remembers calling his parents during them, worrying for the safety of his family and his fellow Californians — and mourning the loss of land to the flames.

“I have a lot of special memories here, and that was a hard time in the area, especially in Sonoma County, when the fires really went through there,” Hyde said. “I just hadn’t seen it, so that was eye-opening for me.”

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Before Friday’s game, Hyde sat in the visiting dugout and thought about it all. He’s been to Oracle Park as a coach before. He’s faced the Giants with the Orioles before. But this is his first visit to San Francisco as the manager.

That adds a special element to all of this, his past and present colliding because of the lifelong link that began here — baseball.